It’s often claimed that, when you tell someone not to do Something, Something becomes the thing they want most to do.
But could it be that Something might be right?Tabby’s Place is located in the glittering non-metropolis of Ringoes, New Jersey, population: 14. Ringoes is known for having approximately three farms, 470 gas stations, 480 pizza parlors, and one Tabby’s Place. When a car drives down the main street, all the citizens of Ringoes get out on their porches to watch and say “I reckon that’s a mighty fine automobile!”
Ringoes is nestled in Hunterdon County, which is essentially a conglomeration of Ringoeses. We pride ourselves on things like Leon’s Sod Farm. It’s major news when, say, a town council votes to remove an ugly fence, only to find more ugliness. (Think I’m making this up? Think again.) Andy Griffith once visited Hunterdon County, but he left because he found it too quiet. Ours is not a community where flashy fellows drive fast cars. And if they did, our cops would be very excited to ticket them, since our county speed limits max out around 7 MPH.
So who, exactly, is hitting all these cats?
We’ve had a platoon of car-clobbered felines at Tabby’s Place this summer. The perpetrators are anyone’s guess, but the victims are ours to adore.
They’re also not the type to call themselves “victims.” Take Ella, the torbie teenager. Six months old and strolling well within the speed limit, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time in nearby Clinton, NJ.
Then again, maybe not.
If it weren’t for the crash, Ella wouldn’t have crumpled into an orange-and-brown puddle on the roadside. If it weren’t for that sad sight, Good Samaritans wouldn’t have scooped her up. And if it weren’t for their scooping, Ella would have continued wandering alone, never to come to Tabby’s Place.
In a way, then, Ella walked directly into a better future. Do not get broken by a car…unless it’s meant to open your life to wholeness.
Of course, we’d prefer to have spared her the suffering, both in the crash itself and in all the drama since. Ella endured two weeks of intensive care at a specialty hospital, including life-saving surgery that left her the Bionic Feline. The next time Ella flies to Ibiza for vacation, she’ll make the metal detectors squeal thanks to all the pins and plates in her pieced-together pelvis and legs. She’s also adjusting to life with 75% of the normal quota of legs, having needed one of her back legs amputated.
But our brave little baby shows no angst over the past. If Ella’s anxious over anything, it’s just eagerness to move forward — specifically, forward and out of her crate. Cage rest is a drag when you’re seven months old and sweet on life. But this, too, shall pass. The worst is over, and the best is so frickin’ yet to come.
That’s a truth tasted by Ella’s comrade in car crashes, Papillon. Quite a bit younger than Ella, Papillon was similarly struck by some vile vehicle, only to find her way to us through the usual convoluted set of sacred circumstances. We never know the whole story; we never need to. We only know that Papillon is meant to be here, and she’s on her way to being whole.
This is where we must pause for a brief pronunciation lesson. Papillon = PAH-pee-yon. Not Pa-PILL-on. Not PA-pill-yon. The L is silent. The name is French. The origin is the old Steve McQueen/Dustin Hoffman prison break movie, given thanks to the kitten’s own great escape.
And the name means, aptly enough, butterfly. Do not get grounded by a crash…unless it breaks you open for fuller flight.
As I type this tale, Papillon is venturing on tenterhooks into one of her maiden flights. OK, that’s a big batch of bogus; Papillon is flying out at 300,000 frenzied, free-spirited miles per hour (please give this new driver some grace, Hunterdon highway patrol). Most of Papillon’s days and nights are spent “imprisoned” on cage rest, a necessity since she’s still limping from her injuries, and awaiting an appointment with an orthopedist (quelle domage). But for a few brief hours each day, Papillon flies.
It’s only the beginning. There are far, far better things ahead than any she, and Ella, and we, leave behind.
Imagine that — all right here in Hunterdon County.
Breaking news: Papillon has seen the orthopedist. Papillon shall be well. And…the orthopedist is going to adopt Papillon. Yes. We fly we’re we’re ought, even if a crash gets us there.