Rags to Riches

March 12, 2014

After I got sick last year I spent a lot of time on the couch. Not just because I was sleeping a lot, but because I had been sleeping in my bed when I had the stroke. A place that once meant peace, rest and cookie crumbs, now triggered fear and anxiety. They tell you to get deep, uninterrupted sleep because it helps the brain to heal and regenerate, but the best I could manage was 10-15 minute intervals before I jolted awake, feeling like I was swallowing my tongue. It was terrible.

Before all this went down, a neighborhood cat started hanging around my place a lot. He had always been on the block checking things out, but just before I got sick he started showing up every day and right after I got sick he refused to leave. It was pretty sad (but also very heartwarming) to come home from treatment and see him squished up, passed out against the back door. He gave me something to think about other than myself and I think I really needed that.



When the rainy weather came I got the pet carrier and set it up outside the door. Every few hours I heated up old blankets so he could stay toasty in his condo. I even covered it with plastic tarp so he could stay dry, but when it got down to 40 degrees he started crying at the back door and when I say crying I mean screaming. My two indoor cats (Monkey Boy and Lil) are not of the friendly variety, so we weren’t sure what to do. One night it got so cold I just let the little bugger in and shut the hallway door, locking the other two in the back of the house. It seemed to work. Better than that, it was the first time I slept for more than a half hour at a time. When I laid down on the couch that night, the cat jumped up and made himself at home on my chest. Even though I was watching tv he stayed right by my face and watched me. When I dozed off he wrapped his paws kind of around my neck, and when I started to feel like I was choking he’d give me a little poke with his claws so I knew I was okay. He never slept outside again after that and I made peace with the couch.

In the months after the stroke was really afraid. What if I had another one and no one was there to help me? How could I get better if I couldn’t get any sleep? It was a vicious cycle of the mind until this cat showed up. I had been hoping and praying for someone to come and help, and instead of a person I got a cat. This is how I know there is a God. HAHA!



A couple months after he moved in, I walked down to the cat’s old place. Aren’t these people wondering where he is, I thought?  On the fence was a sign reading BEWARE OF DOG. Mouthing a few WTFs I turned around and headed back home. Is this why he’d come jumping out of the storm drain for pets last spring? Had he been living IN THE DRAIN? I was horrified. Not long after, because this cat is SO SMART he gets his own treats out of the cupboard + tries to open the back door with his paws if it’s unlocked + only drinks running water out of the faucet + instinctively knows how to identify when a sleeping woman is having a bad dream and gently wakes her up + so many other interesting things, I named him Benjamin Franklin. It seemed like a fitting name, especially after having gone through the process to become a citizen – me, not him although I guess he did become a citizen of my house.



Chris always says that Franklin has the good life, that he’s reached the ultimate in royalty for cats because I let him do whatever he wants. I can’t help it, I love this kid. He saved me in a lot of ways (and can leap onto my bed from the dresser like a freaking gymnast). People on social media are always hawking the next!big!thing!, but this year I learned the value of slowing down and observing the little things in life.  Look at Franklin: one day you’re in the drain and the next you’re in the penthouse.

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  • Reply Kristin W March 16, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    What a GREAT story! I love a cat story, but a cat savior?! Sold. What a lucky Ben Franklin 🙂

  • Reply Nicole Stewart March 13, 2014 at 4:41 am

    I remember that little cat condo…He is a lover cat, so glad you found eachother!

  • Reply Claire Kiefer March 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I love this story so much. How very sweet that he showed up just when you needed him. The picture of the two of you sleeping is TOO MUCH ADORABLENESS. And re: climbing (the first picture), get this: Meal doesn’t climb! The highest he will go is the table. Supposedly Ragdolls in general don’t climb?!?!?!

    • Reply This Free Bird March 13, 2014 at 3:40 am

      Meal doesn’t climb?? Dude. You are so lucky. Frank is an acrobat and has smashed so many picture frames jumping off the book shelves. He even knocked a lamp over once! Freaking 911 alert.

  • Reply lena March 12, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    When my little brother and I were kids, we desperately wanted a cat. My mother told us to pray about it in the car on the way home, and when we pulled into the driveway, there was a beautiful cat in our bushes, hurt and mewing. We named him Moses, and I’m pretty sure my momr never suggested we pray about anything every again.

    So glad you found your own Moses.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 13, 2014 at 3:38 am

      Moses found in the reeds! Moses and the burning bush. This is a cool story you’ve got here, Lena. Hilarious about your mom, too!

  • Reply Faiza March 12, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    So happy that you have a “Franklin” in your life to give you something priceless everyday…perspective.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 13, 2014 at 3:37 am

      You said it.

  • Reply Jen March 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Pets are guardian angels. We kid ourselves thinking that we are helping them, when it is 100% the other way. Those pics of BF are the cutest!

    • Reply This Free Bird March 13, 2014 at 3:36 am

      So true! Little lifters of the spirit. He’s the best! (and the most verbose)

  • Reply Closet Fashionista March 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Wow you are full of amazing stories lately! Looks like you’ve gotten yourself a little guardian angel 😀 It’s amazing what good things can come out of something bad. 🙂

    • Reply This Free Bird March 12, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      I guess it helps not to have blogged for a year? LOL!! You’re right though – always try to look for the silver lining (especially when you don’t feel like it).

  • Reply nicole March 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    it seems to me you are tuned in to the earth/the world in such a way the answers are given to you, in subtle forms, like a kitty kat, and that you now are sharing the answers, like saving the f*&%% out of someones life. i believe everyone ultimately has this capability, it’s just masked by the distractions of modern life. please don’t change, i’m waiting with baited breath to see what happens next!

    • Reply This Free Bird March 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      I think this is what happens when you’re forced to slow down. Even though it’s been scary, it’s been really insightful, too. No more bridges for awhile though!

  • Reply Ruthy March 12, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Seriously, angel cat.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Right? Total gift.

  • Reply Judy Carpenter March 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I love this. I had a standard poodle who taught me that dogs are different like people are and to love and appreciate their souls. Her existence gave me a whole new outlook on life and a new appreciation for love. It goes deeper than I ever imagined. It sounds like Benjamin Franklin has given this gift to you. It is a lovely gift. By the way, 2 weeks out from the surgery I am doing well. It’s a daily thing, learning and changing. I’m sure you understand.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      I’m so glad things are going well, Judy. Maybe a dog/cat/bunny will show up to help you out on your road to recovery? I’m very interested to hear all the things you’re learning on your journey!

  • Reply Courtney March 12, 2014 at 3:59 am

    This put the biggest smile on my face as I was reading it – and cuddling one of my fur babies at the same time. What an adorable boy…and I’m so happy he’s brought a little anti-anxiety into your life.

    Courtney ~

    • Reply This Free Bird March 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      You know what it is, Courtney! I’m so grateful I let him come in the house 🙂

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