The Essence of my Childhood

Childhood experiences create the blueprint that we carry in our fictitious backpack throughout life. Words and memories become intricate lines of a stumbling block for some and a springboard for others. While many try to ignore it, your words, actions and reactions show a clear picture of your blueprint. One of those lines for me came from a stray cat named Essence. This little tabby cat taught me some lesson that I have only recently been able to unpack for sure. Her creamsicle colored fur was well known on our block in the Olney section of Philly.

My mother, an image of what it looked like to have a heart of service, began feeding Essence on our front porch. Now, we all know that when you feed them…you can fill in the rest. I’m laughing as I type this because she was the same way with people. When she saw a need, she would give what she had to fill that need. I miss her dearly.

Throughout my life I have been able to connect with some amazing people that live all over the world. We have talked about similarities and differences that make us the individuals we are. One similarity that we have in common are the basic needs that allow us to survive. Essence had some basic needs as well. Being able to eat and receive affection kept her coming back. My mom purchased her a collar and at some point, started to allow Essence to come into our home.

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

Now, as an asthmatic teenager that begged for a pet over the course of her life, I had mixed feelings about this stray cat. Who was fittin to take care of her? What if she scratched me? My mom was committed to providing Essence with the basic things she needed. (Let that breathe!) I loved Essence and even went on to accept a Nebelung cat when someone needed a home for it. In my mind, I had helped with Essence so having Kenny would be a breeze.

Boy was I wrong! I was struggling with this kitten. Before you judge me…the internet was just getting started so I couldn’t just google how to take care of Kenny. (I just cringed while writing that! UGH!) Then the worst possible thing happened. My stepfather left the door open, and Kenny ran out the front door. In my heart, I wished that Kenny would come back like Essence always did.

Photo by Eva Penner Martens on

Relevant Content: Cats Online

I realized the difference was that Essence knew what she needed and where to get it. Kenny was just getting to know the world around him, so he did not have an understanding of the basic needs that he was leaving behind. Reality check, there are many people who do not understand the basic needs of an individual. All they know and understand is the lifestyle that they have been accustomed too.

It was this sequence of memories that flooded my mind when I recently heard about the lives lost in the back of a trailer in Texas. It broke my heart because basic needs extend the lifespan of people every day. Yet, those who were in the back of that truck died trying to reach a place where they could receive basic needs.

Here is the full circle moment. I would see a woman walking everyday with bags to an open field behind our development. At this point, you never know what that may mean but I found out one day while I was in the field with my niece. I saw something in the woods next to the field. It was a whole cat colony. (Video embedded below) Now I don’t know if this woman created the colony or if she is just the caretaker. Either way it was a reminder to provide basic needs whenever we can.

With over ten years of writing, Altovise uses her platforms to create opportunities for women to have their voices heard. Founder of the World Voice League, she educates and empowers through courses, a weekly accountability call, blogging, books, and the #SpeakEasy Podcast.


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