Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes

May 9th, 2010 12:40 pm by Kelly Garbato

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This Mother’s Day, I think of Kaylee. Kaylee, the dear, sweet, mild-mannered, infinitely lovable old(er) lady we adopted three and a half years ago. Kaylee, my baby girl. One of three. Seven, if you consider those loved and lost.

This morning, as I cuddled Kaylee in bed, silently wishing her a happy Mother’s Day, I thought of her – and her own babies. In her Life Before Us, Kaylee was not spayed. Nor was she fed, housed, vetted, or otherwise cared for. Her body – large, mushy, misshapen – tells the tale of babies birthed, nursed, and…what? Oftentimes – and especially on days like these – I reflect upon this question. Where are Kaylee’s babies now?

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What do they look like? Short, stocky, white and mushy like her, or…more like their father, wherever he may be? Do their butts wiggle like hers, in anticipation of a meal, a treat, or even just a bowl to lick? Do they experience the same insatiable hunger as their mother, whether for physical or emotional nourishment? Are their barks, so infrequently voiced, characterized by the same pained (at times bordering on hysterical), wookie-like roar of their mother? Perhaps, dog willing, their life circumstances have not fostered within them the same fears that drive their mother.

Have the humans they encountered on their life’s path shown them the kindness and compassion that Kaylee has known from us – or have Kaylee’s babies only seen the cruelty and neglect that marked her own Life Before Us?

Where are Kaylee’s babies now? What became of them? Did they live into adulthood, find partners of their own choosing, and start canine families of their own? Does Kaylee have grandbabies (great-grandbabies?!), scattered throughout the Midwest, rising from a peaceful night’s sleep and celebrating the new day, so beautiful and promising, perhaps pressed up against the warm, cozy bodies of their own people, just as their grandmother is now doing?

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Or have Kaylee’s children fared worse than their mother? Was Kaylee even allowed to nurse her newborn pups – however many “litters” she may have had – before they were taken from her and given to other human families…families who prefer puppies to adults, because they’re “so much cuter,” blank slates to mold, shape and (eventually) discard?

Perhaps, unwanted and inconvenient, they were dumped on the doorstep of the nearest pound: the “luckiest” pups, adopted; the others, euthanized killed. Maybe the day- (hour-?) old babies were simply drowned in a pond or toilet, tossed out like so much trash. Possibly Kaylee’s humans took no notice of her pregnancy, and she and her babies were left on their own, to freeze or starve to death in a dingy backyard, in the depths of winter or during the cold, lonely night.

As I gaze upon Kaylee – into her deep, brown, trusting eyes – I wish desperately that this is not the truth of her existence. I hope she also had a Life Before Them, as well as a life after; that the situation from which she was rescued was just a temporary blip in an otherwise happy and peaceful being. I hope she knew, loved and nurtured her babies, every bit as much as I do her.

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Watching her with Rennie – the perky little piglet to Kaylee’s mama sow – I know in my heart that Kaylee would have been – no, was – a wonderful mother, for however long the humans in her life allowed her to be. Kaylee is kind, patient, gentle and loving; I am sure that she loved and protected her babies fiercely. Her children would have been lucky to have her. I know I am.

I wish I could bring Kaylee’s babies back to her; every mother deserves to know her babies, to raise them on their own terms, and to see them off into adulthood when the time has come…naturally. (Canine, bovine, porcine, human – it matters not. A mother is a mother is a mother.)

Failing that, all I can do is mother her, and let her mother me. She is at once my baby and my second mother: dependent, as all domesticated animals become when we humans “master” them; but also loving, nurturing, maternal – almost obsessively so – like any good mother.

I hope that Kaylee carries her babies in her heart (so large a heart it is! both figuratively and, sigh, literally.), since she could not keep them by her side.

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Happy Mother’s Day, my Kaylee. Dream sweet dreams of your babies today – and may they dream sweet dreams of you.

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Today also happens to be your oh-so-humble blogger’s birthday. Lest you be overcome with the desire to shower me with gifts, I ask instead that you go vegan, if you haven’t already. The flesh you eat, the milk you drink, the eggs you scramble – all come from the bodies of enslaved, tortured, exploited and murdered mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers and friends. They are someones, not somethings; and they deserve to experience life, in all its splendor and sorrow, every bit as much as do we.

If you are already vegan, on behalf of the billions of “food” animals slaughtered annually, I thank you.

Finally, throughout the day today, I’ll be tweeting Mother’s Day from the perspective of nonhuman mothers. Please join me, if you can.

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6 Responses to “Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes”

  1. Vegan Dog's Life Says:

    Absolutely beautiful post. <3

  2. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Thanks, Molly :)

  3. Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes, Redux » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes May 9th, 2010 12:40 pm by Kelly Garbato […]

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