There is a possibility that I was born with a very high functioning form (a touch) of autism, or instead, it could be that I sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall when I was about six weeks old. I suppose it could even be both. On the outside, there’s no way to tell for certain, since both conditions can produce identical symptoms. For me, these symptoms include limited fine-motor control, dyslexia, severely diminished sensory memory, and something referred to as the laser-pointer effect. While growing up, I naturally developed a stronger emotional and conceptual memory and an accelerated thought process to compensate, and for a very long time, I thought I was just like everybody else.
Someday when I can afford it, I’d love to have a Tomographic Brain Scan to get a peak at the wiring and maybe unravel some of this mystery. But in the end, it really doesn’t make much difference what caused me to be me. Here I am, just the same. I believe that each of us is given our own unique setup conditions in the beginning, so that we may experience life exactly as we are meant to experience it.
As an adult, I find that some people can’t quite decide what to make of me. In some ways I seem super smart. In other ways, I’m totally clueless. I guess you could describe me as an absentminded small-town scientist, professor or inventor type.
In the academic world, where new concepts are presented in a structured, steady-paced manner, even though I really had to work at it, I actually did quite well. I ended up graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics.
But in the fiercely competitive, fast-paced world of today’s high-tech job-market, It seems I just don’t have what it takes. Even with the help of trained employment specialists, I’ve not been able to relaunch my career since my Boeing contract disintegrated as a direct result of the terrorist attacks of 9-11 2001. It’s been over eight years, and with each passing year it gets tougher.
Since my wife has done well with her career, I have become a house-husband and the primary cat care giver out of necessity. Frankly, I’m not that great with repetitive housework. I’m more of a long-term project person. My wife and I agree that if the opportunity ever presented itself, we would both love to switch places in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I am a PRN employee at my wife’s company, but they seldom need me. I also clean and repair rental homes from time to time.
Although much of what I do these days isn’t very mentally challenging, my brain is seldom idle. My technical mind is always churning, often solving something-or-other, sometimes even in my sleep. Since my wife and I have never owned a home of our own, I’ve had many years to conceptualize how I might engineer a super cheap, efficient and sustainable zero-energy home. Each time I gain new knowledge, the concept changes. It’s my own personal ongoing mental-project, something we engineer-types often have.
My many experiences with all these cats have also given me much to ponder. As I came to understand their needs, my concept naturally evolved to include them and it quickly became more like a low-overhead cat sanctuary facility than a house.
For us, money has always been tight. Yet for years, it always seemed as though I would be offered some work right around the time that we would need a vet. And, we always seemed to have just enough to pay the vet’s bill. It felt as though GOD was keeping us from falling behind. It may seem strange, but I actually grew accustomed to this arrangement. In the fall of 2008 however, things changed —
Since then, we have taken on FIV, FeLV, stomatitis, pancreatitis, diabetes and of course raising kittens. During times of heavy care-giving, I stayed home and missed work opportunities. We gradually fell into debt with our vet, who has been kind enough to drop some charges here and there and allow my wife to make payments when she can. The facility where my wife works has been sold to a giant corporation that has turned the joy of working there into a heavy burden. She has become burned out. Her company has also frozen the salaries of all directors while the price of everything, especially utilities, keeps going up. The kittens are growing into rambunctious teenagers causing our house to become overcrowded.
Unlike the past, our situation now feels unstable, like we are being slowly marched toward a cliff. For awhile I had been considering taking the time to retrain for a different career. Now, I feel increasing pressure to find a permanent, stable solution for us right away.
After 9-11, not being able to find employment in my chosen career field left me feeling somewhat emasculated at first. I stressed over it a lot in the beginning. I kept asking GOD to please help me find a good job again so that I could feel respectable to my peers and to myself. Although GOD can do anything, this was one request He did not grant. (I have always believed that GOD knows and does what is best for His children, and that we should have the faith to accept what He allows, even when it’s uncomfortable.)
Over the years, I’ve seen how GOD has looked out for us and our ever-growing four-legged family. He’s given my wife a good job and made sure we received a little extra money just when it was needed. He listened to our feelings and granted so many of our requests. He also started opening my eyes to how the love-of-money was slowly making our country sick and crushing so many. Gradually, my faith and love for Him grew more solid as my belief in money slowly disintegrated. For a long time now, the thought of working just for money has left me with such a hollow, empty feeling. My tune had changed. I began asking GOD, not for a respectable job, but for something spiritually fulfilling — a life with purpose.
It wasn’t until all the kittens showed up that it finally dawned on me. Perhaps, caring for unwanted cats full time was what GOD had been preparing me for all along. Perhaps He wanted me to dedicate my life to it, like that nun, Sister Seraphim, who founded The Hermitage, a cat shelter in Tucson. I’d never dreamed that I could handle so many cats, but this experience has taught me that I have room enough in my heart for them all and more.
As I did more research into shelters and other companion animal rescue/adoption organizations, I discovered that my sanctuary concept had evolved into a rather unique approach. Also, from a worldly perspective, having a sanctuary meant that these 51 cats were just starter cats with more to come. Suddenly, having them didn’t feel so embarrassing.
The more I thought about caring for unwanted cats as a career, the more it seemed to fit. I realized that this was indeed something I could spend the rest of my life doing. Ten years ago, I would not have thought so, but I am a different person now.