Let me give you another example. As I’ve mentioned a few times already, we volunteered at an animal shelter for eight years. It was nearly impossible to volunteer at an animal shelter and not come home with cats. It was a no-kill shelter that often had older and sick cats. No one wanted to adopt these felines, so rather than let them languish at the shelter and die a slow death there, Reg and I did hospice for cats. Sometimes, the cats lived with us for only a short time before they passed. Sometimes, they lived for years. That meant we often had many cats. At one point, we even had five cats. Because I was married to an intelligent, masculine, logical man, I never wondered if we seemed like wacky cat people. Instead, we just were compassionate people.
After he died, however, I worried I would be viewed as a “crazy cat lady,” a term often used to describe a lonely, older or middle-aged woman who lives alone and fills her lack of romance with many cats. I had three cats when he died and still have them. I remember telling fellow volunteers at Reg’s memorial service that now I would be viewed as a “crazy cat lady.” Now, I can’t do hospice and load up my house with cats. Frankly, I think individuals who love and shelter animals in a healthy way (not hoarders) and who consider pets part of the family are wonderful people. But our society often views people who prefer animals to humans as kooky and on the fringes of society. Therefore, I worried I now would be viewed as the stereotypical “crazy cat lady” or nutty animal person. Reg balanced me out. With him gone, I fear that I will just be viewed as peculiar.
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