Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dogs Of Their Youth

The other day I read about a cat who was raised in a hospice. Oscar, death kitty extraordinaire, can predict when a patient is going to die. When the patient gets close to the final hours, Oscar finds them and lies on them until they have passed into the next world, making me think my great grandmother Mimi might have been onto something when she said that cats sucked the soul out you. She used to make the sign of the cross when she saw a cat on the horizon, even at our sweet senile pet Paintbrush who had so lost her mind that she sat by her cat bowl for hours, waiting for dinner when she'd already been fed. Sometimes my mother would give in and give Paintbrush even more food which she'd nibble at, a confused look in her eyes as to why she wasn't hungry. A lot of people in the geriatric psych ward that was connected to the social work center that used to employ me had the same belief system as Mimi, making pet therapy day a real joy, people screaming, terrified of the one lone cat that was supposed to make them feel better. The real accomplishment the cat served was killing rats in the kitchen. For this I gave much thanks. The pet therapy dog fared a little better, although the mentally challenged adults that were intermingled in the dementia clinic would get overexcited and scream for the better part of an hour until Fido took his leave. The dementia patients would pet Fido, often calling him names of dogs from their youth.

As for the death kitty, the nurses use Oscar's skills to notify the family that there loved one's time has come. He doesn't cuddle up to anyone else, just the dying. Nobody knows how Oscar obtained his skill, although he has received an award commending him for his work. He's a tiny little thing if his picture is to be trusted, running toward what so many of us flee. Often those last hours aren't as peaceful as they are rumored to be, a slipping off in a morphine haze. There's a lot of jerking and the famed death rattle, bodies that resist the end, transitions being so difficult at times. But I like to think that Oscar makes it better, even if that's just a fantasy. After all, the end must be full of wild visions. And what's the harm of one little friend to blanket you at long last, the hard work of this world finally done.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"All my humor is based upon destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil, without disease and violence, I'd be standing on the breadline right in back of J. Edgar Hoover. " Lenny Bruce

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: The Night of the Hunter

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Saturday!


the walking man said...

We all go, the harder one hangs on to this temporary place the harder it is. Oscar could smell the inevitable maybe making it easier for them not allergic to cats.



Rodney Dangerfield said...

My cat Kitsa was such a stud that he posed for cat beefcake pictures. He was quite the pussy magnate, if you know what I mean.

just shaun said...

It was the experience of working the hospice unit while i did my CNA stint which wrenched my heroin soaked brain into a bright moment of certainty... I will not die fighting, i will run to the light with faith, eagerness, expectations. I dont give a flying fuck about the non-brainers anylonger who are having children and spreading apathy, who take their kids and fatten them up to adult onset diabetes at the age of 14. I will live wide open. I will see the sistine chapel, i will go to africa and cry for what we allow. I will sit on top of Kilamanjaro and maybe even suck the life out of few cats on the way. But i will not rattle into the next whatever, i will not jerk (unless i am lucky enough to be throwing a hump into some nurse giving me a mercy lay). I can think of nothing more wasted than our species and what we have become and our sad exit from a priceless journey.



Cheri said...

Oh that made me so sad...

JR's Thumbprints said...

When I think of nursing homes, I think of yellow finches. The home I frequented cleaned those damned bird cages more often than the elderly folks' rooms.

Charles Gramlich said...

Powerful post. Makes me think how glad I am that my father went quickly, in a few moments from a heart attack. I wonder if the cat-stealing-breath myth came from cats who like to sleep on people's chests, and people who have sleep apnea wake up suddenly, feeling loss of breath, and they startle the cat who is sleeping and they put those two things together.

Pythia3 said...

I used to be a Hospice volunteer until my mother died - I tried to go back for a while but death was too personal for me at that time - too fresh in my mind. I have been with more than a few people as they transitioned from this world, and I felt honored - as we do chose who we want present at our 'death.'
So, as far as the kitty goes, I think that it's serving a greater purpose. Animals are so much more in tune with what we (because of our limited perceptions) term, "invisible."
Years back, a heard a story on TV about a woman's dog who alerted her to the cancer that was growing in her body. Animals are excellent messengers; we're just too busy or skeptical to listen.