Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat

I had an amazing father.  He worked hard, was a man of morality, a man of faith (well hidden) and a man who believed in himself.  He managed to provide a very fine life for four kids and my mom with the toil of his hands in dirt.  Dad was a farmer and didn't make a big deal out of much of anything except getting the job done when it needed to be done and fishing.

And, on the farm timing was everything.  The hay needed to be mowed, raked and baled with the moisture predictions, the cattle needed to be bred and fed with the calendar and the planting and harvesting needed to be done according to the signs of weather and sun.

But sometimes, he would run into problems.  Sometimes the tractor wouldn't start, or the rain wouldn't stop, or the rain wouldn't start or the hail came.   Sometimes the bull would die or the mother pig would roll over and kill her babies or the cows got too much fresh green grass and got very sick.  Sometimes the calves would be born in a blizzard and freeze.  Sometimes it just didn't work. 

It was then that my dad was at his best.  He would say, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."   Lover of cats that I was I just didn't quite get it.   Now I do. 

That's when imagination and creativity come in to play. 

Who would ever want to skin a cat?  Obviously this was dad's way of saying, "this may be hard, but we can get through this one too."  Skinning a cat.  Hard work.  Work you have to do because you just have to, because it's there and you have to do it.  You didn't plan it, you didn't ask for it, and you sure don't want it, but it's yours and you have to do it. 

So the cat becomes the unsurmountable problem and getting it's skin off in a new and creative way is the flow of imagination that gets a job done, even when it's hard and even when it seems impossible. 

Jed and I have been skinning cats for 15 months.   One after another, calico, alley, tabby, you name it, we've skinned it. 

When he couldn't get the wheelchair in the shower an we couldn't afford to remodel, we built an outdoor shower.  When we thought we would lose everything financially, we  teamed up with our kids and bought a house.  When I couldn't leave his side, I had the groceries delivered.  When the upstairs to our house became unaccessable to us, we cleaned it out for our care giver to move in. There is more than one way to skin a cat. 

Now we find ourselves somewhat anticipatory about a trip we are taking.  Who said a quadriplegic has to stay in one place and can't travel cross country in a U-Haul truck?  This cat will skin scratching and clawing.

I have my dad to thank for my grit.  Spending your life working in the dirt and relying on the sun and the rain and the grace of God tends to make a hearty and humble man.  He would be 98 this Saturday had he not passed away last Christmas time.  Skinning cats seemed to have served him well. 

It's serving Jed and I well, too.  Each day brings a new cat to skin and each day we learn something new about our cat skinning skills.   

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