When I was about four years old, my cat Sam was born. At that time, he looked like a chubby little Siamese; off-white fur, blue eyes, and dark tipped ears, face, and tail. Just until now, we had always thought he was a mutt with a bit of Siamese, but have recently found that he is more of a shorthair Ragdoll-type cat because he has all of the Ragdoll qualities. He weighs about 15 pounds, has white mitts and boots, white stripe on his tummy, white chin and ruff, big baby blue eyes, a dark choclate coat and face that was once off-white, and a warm and comforting face.
Even as a kitten, he was like a third parent to me. The things I have learned from him since he came into my life can never be counted. I learned the responsibilities of taking care of a living thing and the rewards that come from it far outweigh the work that is required. The most important lesson he has taught me is that you are what you are. This lesson came when I was in junior high.
When I was about 11 years old and in the 6th grade, I was experiencing the most difficult time in my life. Every day I was being made fun of by everyone in my school and I had no friends. They all thought I was fat, ugly, dumb, and not "with it." When I went home, I had to endure the taunts and yellings of my dad who thought of me as a loser and a worthless kid. He wanted me to be an athlete and an overachiever, not the sensitive "wimp" he thought I was. I can't tell you how many nights I could never sleep because I was so afraid to wake up the next day and endure my life over again. I would often contemplate suidcide and think about how I could go about doing it. I just didn't want to live anymore.
Sometimes I thought to myself that maybe if I tried acting like the kids in school and try to fit in that I would have friends and the jokes would end. So I tried altering my personality and tried to fit in with everyone. That just made things worse. I just made myself more of an open target to everyone for acting differently than before. I tried to act the way my dad wanted me to act and always failed miserably, which resulted in even more verbal assaults. I didn't know what to do. I just couldn't fulfull these things that I had wanted at the time.
During one of my sleepless nights, I was lying in my bed thinking about the jokes that would be made at me at school and at home, when Sam jumped on my bed. He slowly walked over to me and just looked at me. I think he noticed that I was crying. He put his head down and pushed it in the side of my face and began to purr. He then laid down next to my head, and the smooth, rhythmic sound of his purring eased my pain. At that time, I was a person who was weak and emotionally frail and no one accepted me; except for Sam. He was the only person in my life who just didn't care what I was, and from that point on he and I became very close. The nights he spent in my room with me taught me that the individuals in life that don't look but feel are the ones that find happiness. I realized that the thing that I "wanted," which was acceptance from people at school who didn't matter and a father who was very confused, was not worth my effort. From that day on, I acted how I pleased and let the ones who appreciate me, come to me. Just like Sam did.
As time went on, I slowly gained a small and close group of friends that truly accepted me. After a longer time, my dad accepted me for who I was and admitted that he had respected me as a man for being who I was and not listening to others. I can honestly say that everyone in my life that is close to me, I compltely trust. This is because I don't concern myself with changing for people, so everyone I am close to, I am on their level and they on mine.
The reason this is such a great lesson in because it usually take people decades to learn it. I had the luxury of learning it from Sam at a very early age. When I would lay in bed alone, I was completly being myself and not trying to bend to people's expectations, and he showed me that there are those out there that appreciate people for being people.
To this day, one of the most soothing things in my life is just lying next to him, putting my ear to his chest, and listening to him purr. Ever since that time years ago, he always lays down next to me when I sleep, so my ears are next to his purring chest. We have also formed a strong bond. Sometimes when I am sick and sleeping, I have dreams of something saying, "Don't worry. I'm here.," and often wake up and see him lying next to me. Sometimes when he is in a deep sleep, I will put my hand right above his body and without even touching him, he immdeitaly begins to purr.
Sam's spends most of his days snoozing and spending time with our other cat, Alexis. He is about 14-16 years old and is in great shape. No diseases, no sicknesses. Just a big, happy, loveable teddy bear of a cat. I am almost 21 now, and in college; far from him and my family. I can't tell you how bad it is sometimes not having him next to me, and how good if feels to see him when I come home. Next to my family, he is the single thing I miss the most about home.
I have learned many of the lessons that my cat Sam has tried to teach me, but one that he never lets me forget is that the things that are free are all we need to be happy. I don't need nice cars, cool clothes, lots of DVDs and CDs. I just want them. The love you recieve from someone is something you realize you need, not want, and that you learn that nothing you could buy compares to it. Some of my most valuable moments in life are just sitting with Sam in my lap and petting him. And listening to him purr.