Jessie

My cat, Lizzie, and I moved in with Dad. He’d developed a staph infection in his blood that ended up eating pieces of his heart. Those pieces then acted like scattershot in his brain. When the cerebral fluid washed over his brain, it started eroding the holes created by the scattershot. His health was becoming more precarious and he was diagnosed with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, a type of dementia.

I’d moved in with him before, when I had three cats, and his one rule was that the cats had to stay outside. He fixed up a two-story area outside his back door with a roof and a lamp that stayed lit to provide heat. I told him that he was the only person I knew with his own private cat house! He laughed.

This time, I told him that, if I moved in with him, I’d bring Lizzie and she had to be able to come inside. The day came when he was ok with that, so Lizzie and I moved over. I was working for a pension administration company during the day, so Lizzie and Dad started bonding, in a way. She would sit on his lap and he would complain about her when I came home. I noticed, however, that he kept an eye on her during the day, so I think they were good companions for each other.

Dad became more frail until one Saturday, he fell. I couldn’t get him off the floor, so we called the ambulance and they were wonderful! The paramedics got Dad up and back into his chair. They asked him if they should take him to the hospital, but Dad said he didn’t think he needed to go there, and we sent them on their way. A few hours later, Dad fell again. Again, we called the ambulance but this time, we decided that Dad should probably go to the hospital to see what modern medicine could do for him. The doctor said that Dad was dehydrated and should stay over the weekend and start some physical therapy the following week. This left Lizzie on her own for a while.

I started looking for another cat for Lizzie. (I seem to tend to find pets for my pets!) I heard about a family north of Rush Center, Kansas, who had a Siamese cat who had wandered onto their property and promptly had three kittens – two males and a female; so, I decided to check them out. All three of the kittens were really cute bundles of fluff. The two males were coal black and the female was a black tiger-stripe with four white paws and a white bib that came up over her mouth and cheeks. She came up to me as soon as I walked into the garage where the kittens were located and I ended up holding her the whole time. I brought her home and that’s how Jessie joined us.

The two cats get along really well even though their temperaments are different. Jessie likes to check on any visitors we have. She’ll watch them from a distance and, if she likes the looks of the visitors, she’ll come up to them so that they can tell her how beautiful she is. Lizzie, on the other hand, becomes the invisible cat. I’ve been told that she holds a high position in our local cat union. This union seems to have a lot of emergency meetings that seem to coincide with visitors in the house. Lizzie tells me that she’d love to stay to visit but needs to attend these union meetings.

Dad ended up going into assisted living arrangements and the nursing home. I’d go to work during the day and then over to visit Dad. I was really lucky in that Dad was a happy drunk. By that, I mean he didn’t become belligerent as the disease progressed. He was pretty cheerful all the time. Sometimes I’d go to visit him, and he’d be sitting in his chair watching Wheel of Fortune. He wouldn’t have a clue what was happening on the TV, but he enjoyed watching the excitement.

Dad passed away in June of 2012. We had a reception at his house after the funeral. Jessie helped entertain the people who came. Lizzie would have loved to help, but there was yet another emergency meeting of her union and she was called away! At the end of the day, we had three beautiful woman gathering on the couch – Jessie, Lizzie, and me! There’s something about the presence of beautiful women that can really smooth out the day and bring peace to my world.

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