Happy Birthday America . . . and Betsey and Ross!

Happy Birthday America . . . and Betsey and Ross!
Betsey and Ross would turn 18 today.

Like many of you, I will be celebrating all of the freedoms our ancestors fought for some 238 years ago. This post isn't about America because High Gloss and Sauce has that covered. Go read her post. I'll be right here. Seriously, she's awesome and her blog is super witty. I've got a big girl crush on her. If I was a mom, I'd want to be as cool as she is. Oh, who am I kidding? I just want to be half as cool as she is without little kiddos running around.

Anyway, there's another very important holiday that we are celebrating in the Little Merry Sunshine house today. Eighteen years ago today, according to best estimates, Betsey and Ross were born.

What did I just hear you think?

Who are Betsey and Ross?

Oh, dear.

All right, let's do some quick time travel to 1996 when the U.S. of A. was a spry 220 and I was living in Washington, D.C.

After a months-long campaign for me to get a pet, my friend Karen had almost convinced me that I should adopt a cat. I had never had a pet before, not even a gerbil, so this was a big commitment for me to consider. She found a nice guy in Upper Northwest who was looking to find a good home for two kittens. The mom of these kittens had adopted him shortly after giving birth to three babies, but he already had a cat and could not take on four more.

So one night in late August, Karen, my friend Kelly, and I hopped into my Mazda and went to meet this man and his menagerie of cats and kittens. For someone who'd never had pets before, it's embarrassing how quickly I fell in love with a black and white boy and a tabby girl. I knew those kitties were mine within seconds and spent the next hour explaining to the man how I, with zero preparations or knowledge of cats, would be a good forever home for his adopted babies.

Karen and Kelly, who were longtime cat owners, helped me convince him that they'd be heavily involved and teach me everything I needed to know. He bought our schtick and off we went with these unnamed kittens.

The kittens and I quickly settled into a routine, but they needed names. I did what anyone in political wonk in D.C. would do . . . I held a primary and general election. Friends submitted name ideas and those names went into the primary. The top vote getters faced off in the general election a few days later. Unlike what would happen just four years later in Florida, we had no hanging chads or election disputes. The election was held via the very secure email servers of our mutual employer. It was all very official.

Due to the fact that the kittens were estimated to have been born on July 4, 1996 in Washington, D.C., one set of names was the far and away winner: Betsey and Ross.

Betsey and Ross were almost 16 when they died on March 23, 2012. (Read their obituary.) They lived a wonderful life that we celebrate each year on July 4th.

So happy birthday America. You're awesome.

But for me, today will always be about the two kittens who made me a crazy cat lady.

Happy birthday Betsey and Ross. I still miss you, but you'd be happy that I finally got past my grief and can remember only your love and the wonderful 16 years we had together. Thank you for letting me be your mom for almost 16 years.

Enjoy this slide show of my first babies.

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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