Gemma is a gorgeous tabby kitten who is just about a year old. She was picked up by my friend, Frank, yesterday morning. He had noticed her and her kitten in the lot behind my husband's warehouse and noted that Momma cat had a badly injured paw.
Being that Frank's got a heart the size of Texas when it comes to furballs, he set traps to catch Mom and baby to get them checked by the Camden County Animal Shelter. He was successful in catching them, but Momma cat's prognosis was very, very poor.
Frank took Gemma to another vet who was willing to take on her case. She'd been viciously attacked and was likely trying to defend her kitten against a wild animal. While she was able to spare her kitten, it looks like she lost her arm in the process.
As a result, the 2nd vet told Frank that he'd either have to amputate her arm or put her to sleep on account of the infection that was caused by multiple bites.
This poor, sweet mama had sacrificed herself to save her helpless little kitten.
Frank, unable to afford surgery and not sure if euthanasia was the best recourse, took Gemma to me. Right now, she's in my bathroom. Being Sunday, there are no vets open to take her. I've tried to make her as comfortable as possible, but the wounds are just too much. She's become incredibly weak due to the infection and pain.
It breaks my heart, but at this juncture, I certainly don't have $2,500 to spend amputating her paw. However, I'd like to make a plea to all my readers out there.
First, please say some prayers for Gemma and all those lost, hungry and hurting strays that have no homes. These, too, are God's creatures and He loves them, too.
Secondly, please spay / neuter your pets. Please.
Third, if you can spare a dollar or two, please consider donating to Gemma's fund. I'm not sure, exactly, how to set one up yet (I'm looking into it), but if you would like to help cover Gemma's expenses up to date ($180) and the cost of her surgery, Frank and I would be so appreciative. She's a really sweet girl who deserves a second chance - especially after heroically protecting the little life she'd been given charge over.
Some of her wounds are pictured below. I tried making that smaller so those of you who aren't the best with blood aren't too offended...
Like I said, she's a surprisingly sweet little girl for being both feral and in incredible amounts of pain. It's what led me to her name. St. Gemma bore the stigmata and bore those Wounds with patience and love. This little Gemma seems to be made of the same stuff.
Truth is, however, is that little Gemma is not long for this world unless we are able to do something to save her. That would require immediate amputation, and the funds to procure that amputation.
Please considering donating today. I've got a PayPal account (firstname.lastname@example.org), but I'm not entirely sure how to set it up so you guys can see I'm not putting donations into my "Gina wants Ice Cream every night for a year" fund. I promise, however, that any funds noted as "For Gemma" will not be used for anything BUT Gemma's expenses.
In my 4 years doing this, my husband and I have been able to rescue and place 70 kittens/cats. Gemma makes 71. I don't want her to be the first one we lose. She's too beautiful a creature. So pray for a miracle, please, specifically asking her namesake to pull a few ropes.
Special thanks to Frank for going out of his way on the weekend (and for paying out of pocket!) to see this Momma cat get help. We need more people like you in the world!
Also, for those of you looking for a happy bit of news after reading this, you'll be thrilled to know Frank adopted Gemma's kitten. Originally, he named the kitten "Han Solo." After the vet gave Han the once-over, Frank realized the kitten was a girl, so he renamed her "Hope Solo." And as you can see from this picture, she couldn't be happier with her new daddy:
Let's give Hope a chance to grow up with her Mommy!
UPDATE: I'm currently trying to get Gemma set up on PetChance.com so folks feel more confident that I'm not funding my obsession for Cherry Garcia.
Also, thanks to S. Weller for being the very first donation! You are wonderful!!!
UPDATE #2: I am heartbroken to report that Gemma has passed away. After being checked again by the vet, it was decided that her infection had spread too much and she was too weak for surgery. Thus, the only humane thing to do was put the darling to sleep. Frank was there with her and consented to carry this heartbreak, himself.
Thank you to all who donated. Donations totaled $115. Total cost of Gemma's visits and medications was $180. The vet who euthanized Gemma did not charge us (BLESS HER!). Thus, Frank and I only had to put forth a manageable $32.50 each.
THANK YOU. Thank you for helping us help Gemma cross the Rainbow Bridge. While we wish we could have seen her live a long and healthy life on earth, we are comforted to know she's pain-free and being cuddled by Christ.
You're all in my prayers. Christian or not, each one of you who prayed, shared or donated proved you have a deep and universal love that I am humbled by and grateful for. So again, thank you and bless you for your generosity.
P.S. - Hope Solo is doing great! She is adjusting nicely and is quite the balm for Frank's heart right now!
Two second update:
I went to the doctor yesterday to see if the procedure removed the cervical cancer and the results are good!
I go again in a couple more months to make sure, but God is good! This news is cause for celebration!
I'm not at my typical computer, so I apologize if the formatting is a little odd (I can't tell if there's a difference).
Anyway, today marks the feast of my favorite saint... a best buddy in Heaven who has been my go-to person since the 3rd grade when I first found her mustard-colored book in my teacher's library.
St. Germaine Cousin, an incorruptible, and a real-life Cinderella, celebrates her feast in Heaven today. That means today also marks the 2nd anniversary I've had this blog.
Two years - it seems I've been doing this so much longer than that! So many wonderful things have come out of this experience - so many wonderful people I've come to know and pray with. So thanks for making this page such a wonderful place for me.
May Saint Germaine intercede for all of us in a special way today. :)
Vincent still does his "No Jesus!" whining when he realizes we're on our way to Mass. He does it every week, regardless of which church we go to. I no longer give it a second thought, because he's typically excited about going by the time we get there. It's just the idea of having to stop playing that gets him, I think.
Anyway, John still smirks at times when he hears Vincent doing that. He thinks I don't see it, but I do. And in my head, I just say a prayer that God keeps Vincent for Himself and gives him a deep, true love of Jesus and His mom. After all, if you've got that base covered, you're pretty much set.
Well, for every smirk John gets in, I am granted my own. Here's evidence of my latest one:
I snapped this when I went up to check on Vince after putting him to bed. When I'd left him, the dolls were on the table next to him. When I came back up, it was obvious that he'd tucked them in under the blankets (on either side!) with him. I had such a gratifying appreciation bubble up in my heart when I saw this. God's gonna make sure Vincent knows Him and loves Him.
And because I couldn't take only one shot... here's a clearer one! :) I chanced the flash for the second one... totally worth it!
UPDATE: So thanks for your responses, everyone! The friend I had the bet with was Protestant (non-denominational) and suggested the Our Father would be the favorite prayer. I said, "No. It'll be the rosary... at the very least the Hail Mary." He said, "No way. All your prayers can't be going to St. Mary (I love that he calls her that)." I said, "A lot of them do. Who better to bring them to Jesus than His own mother?"
Thanks for proving me right. Ha ha ha!
My friend and I have a bit of a bet going on right now. Readership, I ask your help.
What is your favorite prayer?
I must stipulate that it must be your favorite prayer - BESIDES THE MASS.
Rosary counts, chaplets count, singular, stand-alone prayers count.
You're allowed to answer more than one prayer. For example:
Billy's favorite prayer is the Chaplet of St. Michael for protection of his family. However, his personal favorite for struggling to overcome addiction is the Our Father. The one that makes him feel closest to God is the Hail Mary because it reminds him of Jesus as a small child in the womb of Our Lady.
So technically Billy's got a bunch of favorite prayers for various reasons. They'll all count towards my tally.
What's your favorite prayer?
As I said before, my MIL is a genuinely sweet person who really does go out of her way to make you feel welcome, cared for and loved. So when she took the accidental leap into "Crap hits the fan" territory, I wanted her to know my broken feelings were NOT the result of her sticking her nose where it didn't belong. I love the fact that she cares enough to ask these questions.
So when I had finally composed myself and felt ready to talk without falling into a snotty mess of tears, I positioned my beach chair in front of her and had the talk that I maybe should've had months ago.
I explained, without vilifying John, that we had come to the decision that Vincent was it for us. After all, we can't compromise on half a baby, so in order to protect our marriage, I agreed to relinquish my right to more children. Yes, it still hurts when I think of all those children I will always - ALWAYS - yearn for, but there is no point in damaging our marriage further by harassing John on a regular basis about it. We spent three years that way and finally managed to pull ourselves out of it.
So I asked that she not try to persuade John. It'd just make him angry that she was trying to get involved in a decision he feels as though he has every right to make. I'm not supporting his decision as right. I don't believe it is - on any level. But that's something that most of you wonderful readers already know. No point in re-beating a dead horse.
I explained all of this to her in concise, direct language so that she understood John's perspective. My goal was to prevent John from hearing about it later. He'd only end up feeling as though I'd gone behind his back to get his mom on my side or something.
So I presented a united front to her (which I have no doubt she'll take back to his family). I said that while I'd always be open to more children, I understand John's decision and cannot do anything to change his mind. Thus, for the sake of our marriage, I've tried to put my intense desire for children aside.
That was that. She understood and she then opened up about various situations that mirrored or held similarities to mine. I know she was trying to make me feel better. Honestly, though, I felt better knowing that she knew. She might not know the depths of my pain, but she at least knows not to bring me to the precipice anymore. And I feel as though I'll no longer hold the blame for not giving her and her husband the grandchildren they, also, want.
So that was the talk - finally. Later that night I told John that I'd had it with her so he was ready for any subsequent questions he might get from his parents (though I'm pretty sure that I DID handle the issue, so he very likely won't hear anything further).
Ah well. I'm honestly glad it's out in the open now. That particular secret really is a bear sometimes...
I listened to her laugh about John’s response to her question. She didn’t understand, yet. I, however, immediately realized that my feelings months ago were spot on – he had never really spoken to her about future grandchildren. He’d very likely said something trite and expected her to “get the idea” and never broach the subject again.
So when, after laughing about her son’s silly reaction, she saw her opportunity to delve deeper into the water, she took it. I don’t blame her. Looking back, I probably would’ve done the same thing had I been in her position.
I have to admit… as she was telling the story about John and Alliya, I wasn’t sure at first where she was going with it. It wasn’t until the realization hit that John hadn’t actually spoken to her surfaced that I realized I was in very dangerous territory.
She asked, “So… I know he said he is content with Vincent, but do you not want anymore? Is Vincent just too much for you guys?”
This is what the next few seconds in my head sounded like:
Oh crap, don’t cry, Gina. Don’t you freakin’ cry. Think of something to say.
THINK OF SOMETHING TO SAY!
Is Vincent too MUCH for us?! He’s perfect, how did that even enter into her head that Vincent could be too much for us?
Oh my gosh, SAY SOMETHING! But not yet because you’re gonna cry. You’re gonna sound like you’re upset, and she’s gonna know, and it’s gonna be terrible, because then the secret’s out, and John’s gonna be annoyed because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut, and then the whole family will find out, and GEEZ – SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING! BUT TRY NOT TO SOUND LIKE YOU’RE SOBBING!
You must look like an idiot there staring off behind your sunglasses with your mouth hanging open.
(closes mouth, absent-mindedly begins chewing on lip)
OH NO, you chewed on your lip you idiot! Now she knows for sure and it’s been too long a pause for you to have just been trying to think up a delicate excuse for not wanting more kids than Vincent. Man, you’re a total failure at this. Now you’re stuck. Way to screw that up.
And as I had the “Way to screw that up” thought flash through my mind, my MIL realized the pregnant pause wasn’t so pregnant as infertile and immediately wished she could swallow the words that had already sliced through my soul.
She hadn’t even uttered her realization of “Oh Gina… I’m so sorry” as I felt the first tears start to fall. I was trying vainly to quell my tidal wave of grief so I could tell her not to feel guilty… that it wasn’t her fault I was reacting so strongly. I could only muster a shake of my head and a faltering, “No, Ma, it’s okay. It’s really okay. Vincent isn’t too much. John just doesn’t want anymore.”
My MIL is a wonderful woman. She truly is. She’s probably one of the most genuinely caring people in the world. She really is happiest when she’s making other people feel at ease or cared for. That part of her personality is so attractive… so magnetic… people tend to relish being in her company. So as soon as she realized she’d caught me off guard, she felt bad. So she said, “I’ll talk to my son. That’s just not right.”
I started to protest, but I was still too overcome with emotion to do more than bite my lip to prevent all out sobbing. So I just shook my head and she understood we’d talk later. She said, “It’s okay. We’ll talk later. Back at the house.”
About 45 minutes later, we were alone on the beach with my neice. She was playing with some friends, so I took that opportunity to have the conversation John should have had months ago.
Continued in Part III: The Talk
Fixed the air-conditioner, dear!
Ever have your husband say to you, “Oh honey, I’ve taken care of it. X-issue will never come up again. Don’t even worry about it!”
Ever think, immediately upon hearing those words, that X-issue will most CERTAINLY come up again because your husband doesn’t “take care of things” as well as he thinks he does?
Oh John… *shakes head with playful reproach* I fell victim to his version of “taking care of things” this weekend.
Several months ago, John’s mother had been hinting at the prospect of John and I having more children. Obviously her intention was not to shove a sword through my heart, but given the nature of my current fertility predicament, that’s exactly what ended up happening.
And really, that’s partly my fault. Never wanting to make her feel bad for desiring more grandchildren from us, I did my best to keep my emotions under control. I never let her see anything more than the carefully concocted façade that masked my deepest, most crushing grief.
After this happened in December (and it was December, I just couldn’t bring myself to post about it until February), John took the initiative and assured me he had spoken to his mother in an attempt to head-off similar situations. When I pressed him to find out how, exactly, he’d handled the conversation, I could tell that he wasn't very thorough because he didn’t want to have a heart-to-heart with his mother about why he, himself, didn’t want any more children. He didn’t want to admit that to his mom because he knew she wouldn’t let the conversation end there.
But I didn’t press the issue further because I figured I’d find out, myself, through future interactions with my MIL.
This weekend was my reckoning.
John and I took Vincent down the shore to stay with my mother and father-in-law. They were babysitting our niece, Alliya.
As I was getting Vince ready for the beach in the bedroom, John watched his mother braid Alliya’s hair in the living room. Alliya didn’t like that, so John asked his mom why she was forcing Alliya (who has Rapunzel-length hair) to sit still while she braided it.
My MIL responded with, “It’ll get too tangled if I don’t braid it.”
Things might’ve been okay for me had the conversation stopped there. It didn’t, and here’s where my husband’s brilliant version of “handling things” came into play.
My MIL continued, “Why are you asking, John? Prepping for a little girl of your own?”
Cue John’s brilliant response – instead of responding to her, he simply ignores her and walks away.
That’s right... he walked away.
I’m actually laughing as I think about that. I have little doubt he thought he was making a very good, obvious point to his mother. He probably even thought he was deftly handling the situation and “punishing” her with the cold shoulder by ignoring the comment and walking away.
But no. His mother thought he was just teasing. So when she relayed the story back to me on the beach while John was on the boardwalk with Vincent, she had absolutely no idea that she was treading on dangerous waters.
Continue to Part II: Dangerous Waters
About a year and a half later, my heart has been broken again.My sisters and I after Easter Sunday Mass
The closing of Incarnation Parish comes as no surprise. Even with the fundraising project I organized, I knew the buildings were too badly damaged - the community too fractured and jaded - to come back from the blow of losing our school.
And yet even knowing that the closure was to be announced did nothing to lessen the blow. Still my heart breaks knowing that the beauty of Incarnation's art, stained glass and communal spirit will be shuttered and stowed away.
It's hard to explain to folks why such news is so crushing. "It's just a building," they say. "There are other churches you can go to" they soothe.
And to a parish-hopper like myself, that might make sense. After all, I subscribe to the belief that ALL Catholic churches are homes of the Almighty God. I believe that they're all various rooms in His House and since each one boasts His Presence in the tabernacle, I shouldn't concern myself so much with any one in particular. They're each part of the Church (capital "C").
Still, though, I feel a very deep loss. The pain of loss is not just spiritual or emotional... it is physical. On my way home, I felt as if my heart was slowly being skewered by a spear. This physically hurts.
And I wondered why - aloud.
How can I explain such a painful, emotional reaction to news that a building is closing?
Because it's not just a building. It's my spiritual home... the place I first heard the Gospel, the school that raised me in the ways of Catholic Tradition, the church that celebrated with me my 1st Sacraments, the community that was and, in many ways continues to be, my extended family.
Knowing that so many of us will now be displaced and- for lack of a better word - homeless, it is a terribly sad and hurtful thing. I feel the confusion, frustration, anger and loneliness of my community. All over the Archdiocese, parishes are closing, beloved pastors are being reassigned and church communities are being told they are no longer going to have their familiar places of worship, comfort and prayer. The reason this is so heartbreaking to us is that many of those in these churches put their blood, sweat and tears into building their communities.
Our unparalleled stained glass
Incarnation, for example, still boasts the artist who painted some of our beautiful artwork in the sanctuary. Their families are still members of the parish! Families who have donated statues, the grotto areas, even those who volunteered their time and expertise in repairing architectural damage, painting the interior, and replacing broken panels of stained glass...
These families are still a part of the living, breathing community of Incarnation. The same is true ALL OVER Philadelphia. In many ways we feel as though we are being kicked out of the home and family we've forged through our years of love, worship and sacrifice there. Incarnation is our home because we MADE it our home in our united desire to worship God through serving one another.
The Body of Christ on earth is bleeding out, and I sometimes feel as if the wrists have been slit here in Philadelphia.
Oh prayers, fellow bloggers. This extends far beyond Incarnation... even beyond the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Satan's smoke has been suffocating our beloved Church for many, many years now. Our apathy, pursuit of pleasure and arrogance opened the door for him, and now we're choking on the illusion of fulfillment he gave us.
Mercy, Lord. We are our own undoing. Even with my rose-colored glasses, I know Incarnation was hurting for quite a while. I accept the closure as punishment for the transgressions we allowed...
Our priests found guilty of so many abuses.
Our laity falling lax in love, faith and worship.
Our communal apathy regarding keeping your house pristine and structurally sound.
Our disregard for true financial support given your many blessings to us.
Our arrogant superiority based on our blessed history in Olney.
We really were once "the" parish in N. Philadelphia. I suppose, given our history, we felt ourselves untouchable. I know as a child there, I never imagined there would come a day that Inky would close its doors. How in the world could I have foreseen such a tragedy? This place was, in so many ways, a touch of Heaven.
1st Communion - Mary and I
I remember as a sacristan, walking through the churches (upper and lower) after all the Masses were finished for the day. I felt so close to Heaven in those moments - completely alone with Jesus in the tabernacle.
I remember all my wonderful sacraments celebrated there... Holy Communion, Confirmation, my 1st Reconciliation. Baptism happened at Inky, too, but you'll forgive my 3 week old self for not remembering that one so well. *Grin*
I also remember as a rectory sitter the many times strangers would come to the door asking for food or clothing. How gratified I felt in making a simple sandwich or handing over clothes / canned food from the downstairs pantry! How VISIBLE Divine Providence was as I took part in it at Incarnation!
And now to whom shall these people turn? To whom shall they go seeking refuge, clothing or food?
Yet another church is closed which cauterizes a faithful avenue for Divine Providence to use.
How my heart bleeds its sorrow. How my soul prays for hope that this terrible cancer in our Church is healed by our Merciful God.
I don't know. I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to feel, and I certainly don't know how to prepare myself for the closing Mass on June 30th.
Prayer, of course, but I just don't know how to reconcile my frustration, hurt and grief with the faith I have in God and Archbishop Chaput.
I love our Archbishop dearly. I believe he's been put here in Philly for the specific task of pruning us something fierce. He's made incredibly bold decisions that have had a very widespread effect on the entire Church in Philadelphia. He closed our school last year, and now our church was sentenced to the cross this weekend.
So together we much embrace this sacrifice like Christ, I guess. We must acknowledge the task of walking in His Ways, even unto Calvary.
And just as together with Christ we die, together with Christ we shall rise again. This is my hope; this is my prayer.
But prayers, dear bloggers. Prayers for us in Philadelphia. Prayers for the Church as She fights off the growing cancer of apathy, the pursuit of worldly pleasures, and arrogance. May the Spirit of Love alight in Her heart and purify Her of such malignancy.
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