Monday, March 23, 2009

Kittens should be seen and not felt

I think I have stumbled on the litmus test defining whether I am a cat person or not.

Couple weeks ago, I was lying (note: I was NOT laying) on the couch, watching a video with my granddaughters. Suddenly, Oliver, their then two-month old kitten, sprang to my stomach, my shoulder and then bit my cheek. No punctures, of course, but I swept him to the floor firmly. His attempts to jump back were blocked.

I sputtered a bit and my oldest granddaughter picked him up and hugged him. He proceeded to wrestle with her hand and extend his claws and fangs, which she pretty much evaded.

"Face it, grandma, you love this cat," she said, cuddling him.

"No," I said, "I don't think I like him very much as a kitten. I'm sure I will like him much better as a cat."

I told this story to a friend who has always had several cats, but usually only one dog at a time. She chuckled and cooed, "Ooooh," in a tone that intimated he was adorable.

I told a friend who usually has equal numbers of both. "Uh-huh," she said, and laughed tolerantly. "Kittens do that, but they grow out of it."

I told a friend who has only ever had dogs. "Ick," she said.

This survey is by no means scientific, but I think it does illustrate why we individually relate to cats or dogs.

(Biting me on the face is adorable behavior? Where are you cat people coming from?)

I always knew cats found me very difficult to train, but I've had a few cats I have enjoyed a lot. Cats, not kittens.

Oliver has calmed down some since his nuts were stolen a couple of weeks ago. He really is cute chasing leaves and paper towel rollers as if they were fleeing rodents. He is almost as large as the small dog across the street and is kinda cute stalking the poor animal, then charging till the dog flees under a car and cowers there, yapping. Go, Oliver!

He shows signs of becoming a great mouser. My vet says rodent flesh is the quintessential healthy food for cats. When I lived in the country, my two outdoor cats had gorgeous thick, glossy coats and I seldom got rodents in the house.

Yep, I think Oliver and I are gonna get along just fine. But he has convinced me once and for all--I am definitely not a cat person.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Does the End Justify the Means?


Human suffering, so we are taught, and so I mostly believe, leads to enlightenment. Growth. A greater understanding of the gift of life itself.

But what if?

No hope, no enlightenment in cases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, or a brain tumor? Something we don't know how to heal and leaves the recipient with no mental faculties, years of misery and years of misery for family, caretakers, and friends?

So we have laws, in a few states, that if a person still has full faculties and wants to end his/her life, they can do so if they can find a physician to help them. Is it merciful? Cowardice? How do their families and friends handle it? Does it matter? I am at peace with those laws. No agenda.

A counselor who works with depression once told me, "Suicide is what people do when they can't think of anything else to do."

I have a friend whose husband killed himself after years of treatment for cancer. He couldn't eat or drink by mouth, but was fully cognizant when he shot himself. It was a total shock. She almost went under in reaction. After several years of treatment herself, she is a strong, empathetic friend to have. And she is still angry about his death. Not unforgiving--that would not be healthy for her. But angry. She might have been, anyway. But HER suffering would have been less if he had gone on, and I'm sure he told himself his sudden demise would mean LESS suffering.

And then my own experience. Mother had Alzheimer's. Her body was very strong. When she was cognizant and aware (and suffering because of her awareness), she told me, "It is if I write my life on a giant blackboard as fast as I can, and it is erased as fast as I can write it."

Four years after she went into care she forgot my name. But her face would still light up when I came in. Many aren't so lucky. But I would cry all the way home. Twelve years after she went into nursing care, her autonomic system failed and she died.

Mother would never have chosen suicide. And look at me. Did I grow? Did I learn? Reluctantly, I have to say I did.

Do I believe in stopping persons from suicide? Yes, because often, it isn't their lives that have failed, but for a bit, their imagination. Is that another word for hope? I think so...

People without hope have an explosive effect on society. The fracture they create spreads out in ripples. Ask surviving victims of a suicide bomber.

Ask family and friends of a suicide.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Roots to Living


I know those are important in business, but I've never been very good at business.
Still, I have them. In each of the careers I've had, I have people I am still connected to. Stupid me. They are frequently helpful, but not one because I thought they were, or might be. Simply because I like them, and they like me. Love, in many cases.

Yesterday, I had lunch with two college roommates. One I hadn't seen for 11 years, one for maybe 35 years. We've all lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex all this time....except Brenda and Bill took off to live in Japan for 10 years. And Libby and Jack travel a lot.

Libby made a point of telling me I was important in her college years. And I replied she had been the same. And we both exclaimed, "I don't know how."

We all recognized each other immediately.I recognized Libby from the back, the same thin tall posture, short hair--I was seated and called her name. She turned around.

Then we both watched for Brenda, a vibrant auburn in college and slender. The hair is silver white now, but immediately Brenda. (She's still thin. At a 12-14, I was the fattie at the table) We visited. Brenda was the only one who brought pictures.

We shared college together. We share those memories. We were and are very different people.We have lived very different lives. But we are connected. Memories, for one. Brenda's brother was 13 or 14 the last time I saw him. Now he's 60. Libby's brother-in-law was in his teens when I knew him as a silverfish, happy, energetic teen. She says he still has his humor and energy and is a grandfather. But as different as we were, we clicked. And we stay clicked.

It wasn't an acopolypse. It was indeed a very pleasant lunch, with promise.
Brenda brought her camera, and we asked the women next table to photograph us. They were agreeable, and I added, "We were college roommates and haven't seen each other in years." They got excited. Heck, they were in their 30s-40s. We were living mentors.

We linked waists, and the photographer took two.

I look forward to those.

And I think about connections. We know things about each other from those years that no one else knows, at least in the context of us one on one. I think about the people in my life since, some friends, some enemies, some neutral but still important. We all know things about each other that noone else knows, at least in the concept of one on one.

Each connection is important. And in my life, each has led to something, or someone, else that has been important. Some of the imporant things have seemed like catastrophes at the time, and were, but other connections, other people,later living have proved to be blessings.

There IS a logic to life. AND an order to things. To me, yesterday was an affirmation of that.

Hope I see them both again.