I Am "This Kind of Person" Running After "That Kind of Person"


I Am "This Kind of Person" Running After "That Kind of Person"

I volunteer at a local pet store in the cat shelter room. I take Mom with me when I clean cages and swap out water. In her active days she obsesses over sweeping up cat litter and at the very least acts as Door Guard and Greeter. I have a sense of cool and ease when she is with me there, in contrast to most everywhere else I take her.

The cat shelter room is a drop-off haven for all the disabled, strange, unwashed, unstable and juvenile visitors to the store. It is a weirdo-magnet. These kinds of people love looking at the cats and telling you about their experiences. In this environment, my mom fits in perfectly. No one has a clue what she's talking about but no one actually cares. She is also "that kind of person", and I can be at peace doing my work knowing she and they are getting everything out their experience without judgement or explanation.

I can't say the same for most everywhere else I go, although I'm eager to admit the hang-ups are probably all mine and we have, so far, encountered amazingly compassionate and understanding strangers. There is something about walking hand-in-hand with another person, an adult who looks otherwise normal and complacent, which signals, "I am "this kind of person" who runs after "that kind of person", with the emphasis on "THAT".

I always felt sympathetic for people you knew were the Guardians and the Rescuers, and tried not to give them much eye contact. They were the ones who swooped in and saved the awkward moment from going out of control; the Rescuers with a flashing smile, a calming, "It's okay, it's all okay". I've lost count of how many total strangers my mother has hugged and kissed, babies touched, clerks wished "Merry Christmas"; how many times she thinks she knows the cashier or waitress and asks them a personal question while they fish around trying to decide if they really DO know this old lady? and still remain polite enough to earn a tip. I keep Mom on such a short leash that she rarely gets too far or into too much trouble, but it's freaking amazing how much trouble she can cause only one arm-length away.

This post is actually more about me than about her; about another role I can add to my resume that I'm not exactly comfortable with, and my mother still bristles against. Guardian and Rescuer; it's beginning to sound like a Tarot Deck.


Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


Hi--That's such a good idea about having your volunteer with you. Brilliant!!\r\n\r\nI've been thinking about your headline since you wrote this post. I just love it.\r\n\r\nI love your blog posts, these incredible glances into your day. Hoping you don't have to do too much chasing today. :)


You're such a good writer, Jan! The title really struck me. \r\n\r\nI'm glad the cat room is a good place for both you and your mom.


Jan, I love that your mom has a place where she fits in!


Jan, how nice that you have one place that you can be out and feel at ease with your mother because she fits in. Guardian and Rescuer…. it's really a mixed gig. Guarding your mom. Rescuing her. Rescuing others from discomfort….came into my mind…. made me think.\r\n\r\nI do know that feeling of awkward situations, not with my mom, but with my brother in years past. He would talk to complete strangers, want to hold and kiss babies, etc. It was all OK until he hit adolescence and then after he was frightening to others -- mothers would run away with their children, and other people would think my brother a pervert. You can't blame them, but how do you teach someone who is loving and incapable of understanding how others interpret his actions. (My brother suffered brain damage at 4yrs. old.) I was never one of those people who knew how to handle those situations… then I felt shame and embarrassment, a message from parents, society and especially from one set of grandparents. I hope I have shed, at least most of those feelings, but I know they creep up from time to time…. like at my mom's funeral, worrying about what others were thinking, or hoping he wouldn't act out in any manner.\r\n\r\nCaregiving certainly lets us learn more about ourselves in lots of ways….