I am happy to welcome my dear friend and talented wordsmith, Jinny Baxter, to share one of the most moving animal stories ever, and her debut novel.
Jinny: It was the worst time of my life. Spring of 2003. I had just lost my husband. We were only married fifteen months when he went to heaven, and I was simply staggering with grief. Thankfully, I had two of the sweetest little granddaughters, Mandy and Kit, who tried very hard to cheer me up.
I wasn’t surprised when they led me through the woods behind their house to a secret hiding place for a mama cat and her litter of kittens. I told them no, I didn’t need some little wild cats to take care of. They insisted that I needed something to love and to love me.
Well, long story short, I ended up with two kittens, mainly because I wanted them to have someone to play with while I was at work. TJ was a black and white Tuxedo and Baby was a silver Tiger with blue eyes. TJ would remain an outdoor cat and Baby would live her entire life inside, my constant companion.
The two little rascals became a family favorite. Even my son, who claimed he hated cats, grew to love them. Friends commented that TJ was so alert and sleek, he was like a panther. But Baby was the favorite. Her little pink nose topped a mouth that truly looked like a sweet smile. She, like most cats, insinuated herself into whatever I was doing, whether I was just reading a book or rushing a chair. Her snuggling was my favorite thing about her. Often, she would sleep with me and kneed my back, as if to say “Relax human mama, I’m here and I love you.”
When TJ was about five years old, he disappeared for a week. When he came home, he was obviously very sick. The vet gave me the terrible news, he had fatty liver disease and there wasn’t much they could do. I called my family and they all came to the vet’s office and cried with me as TJ crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. (I’m crying now, just remembering.)
A year later, I notice that Baby was having trouble breathing. Well, she was sick too. Stomach cancer. Once again, I called my family and we all wished her a wonderful journey to join her brother on the other side. There was so much emotion in that room that even the vet cried with us.
Oh, I grieved those fur babies. I think they were more than pets, they were a connection to my late husband, they had shared my life while I slowly put it back together. I like to think TJ and Baby are together now, happy and rather smug as they say, “We completed our job on earth, we helped her find her way back to living her life.”
Fanciful maybe, but there is so much we don’t know about the other side, so many possibilities. A couple of weeks after we buried Baby, I was sitting out on my back porch at dusk. It was a dreary evening, rather chilly for the time of year and a thick fog had fallen over the area. Suddenly the fog shifted a bit and a silver-grey tabby appeared. She sat there for about five minutes while I struggled with disbelief and maybe even shock. I knew it was my Baby, come to let me know she was alright. Finally, I rose and approached her. She tilted her head as if to say “Good bye” and turned and walked back into the fog. You’ll never convince me that our pets don’t have hearts and souls and give us unconditional love. I will always miss them, but they were very big stitches in the fabric of my life.
Beth: Jinny, that was amazing and deeply touching. Thanks for sharing with us. I remember when you saw Baby, although I didn’t realize then the full significance of what she meant to you. I do now.
About Jinny’s new release:
“An August Affair” is my first book, although I have a lot of experience writing magazine and newspaper articles, as well as the dreaded SOP Manuals. (Standard Operating Procedures for work places.) This book was a refreshing labor of love where I could abandon excruciatingly boring facts and dream a little.
The setting is an old house in the mountains where many strange things have previously and are currently happening. My characters must figure out who committed a murder more than two-hundred years ago. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves, and maybe fall in love.
Seth Berkeley was a man haunted by his past. Trapped in a small town with the ghost of his dead father’s perversions hovering over him, his prospects seemed bleak and hope was a distant fantasy. That all changed with the arrival of certified legal documents declaring him the sole beneficiary of a beautiful colonial estate in the mountains of Virginia. Seth jumped at this opportunity at a new beginning and left at once.
Willow Callahan suffered from one calamity after another. The most recent was leaving a job she loved after the sexual harassment of a new employee protected by nepotism made it impossible to continue working there. A chance encounter at a diner led her to discover that the old Berkeley estate may need renovating. Willow jumped at this chance to exorcise her personal demons and leave the specter of her past behind.
Their exploration leads to the discovery of a child’s skeleton on the wine cellar. From then on, every new discovery leads to danger and secrets they must unravel, and an unexpected passion neither of them wants. Can they solve the mystery of Seth’s heritage and heal their suspicious and fearful hearts along the way?
She studied his face and could almost see the wall he put up. His bright blue eyes were shadowed and wary. “That sure sounds like an anxiety attack to me. And you used to have them? Were you ever treated for them? Medication? Therapy?”
Seth jerked back in embarrassment. “No! I got over it!”
Willow nodded, understanding instantly that this was a big issue for him. A sign of weakness, something real men didn’t do. “Have you ever tried to figure out what was causing it? Researched it on the internet or talked to a doctor?”
He frowned and shook his head. “No, I don’t even own a computer and my family, well, we didn’t go to the doctor for stuff like that. But it’s all over now; I don’t do that anymore.”
Willow raised an eyebrow and gave him a pointed look. He felt his face heat and averted his gaze. “Well, not until today,” he mumbled.
“Seth,” she urged, “I don’t want you to strip yourself bare. I just want to understand what happened so maybe I can help you get over it. If I’ve done something that reminds you of a bad time, tell me, I’ll stop. We all have things in our past we don’t want to share. I know I do. But I took them out and looked at them and decided I had to put them behind me. I couldn’t go on until I did. And the same goes for you. If you are hanging on to a bunch of yesterdays, you can’t embrace today. Do you understand that?”
Jinny Kirby Baxter is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who has always dreamed of being a published author. Her life has been filled with many obstacles, but here she is at this late date killing it! She has written many newspaper and magazine articles, as well as the dreaded SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for her past employment. Some of her past experiences prompted her to write about a man tortured by childhood abuse and the growing awareness of this despicable social problem. Her mantra is “It’s never too late to shine” and dreams can come true for all of us! She lives with her sister in a small town in Nevada and is working on a sequel to her first book!
Follow Jinny’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jinny-Kirby-Baxter/e/B073KKLMH7