My husband and I had just put a contract on a new house when my elderly mother, back in Maryland, got lost driving to a place she’d been many times before. I tried to talk her into moving into our Colorado home with us, but she didn’t want to impose. So my husband got on the phone with her and talked her into it. Then, he packed her decades of belongings and brought her to our new home just 10 days after we, ourselves, had moved in.
At first, my mom seemed to have her sharpness, perspicacity, and sense of humor intact, but she was almost 90 years old, and her memory wasn’t what it had been. My husband never gave up on her, though. He would stand in front of her while she sat on the couch and lead her in a little dance. Really, it was chair aerobics, but it kept her sharp because she had to follow his changing moves, and it got her heart racing. Most important, it would make her laugh and she loved the attention.
My mother passed away one day before her birthday in 2011, and I believe my husband played a huge part in keeping her alive and relatively healthy for as long as she was. Her doctor said he’d rarely seen a woman of her age so well cared-for. She didn’t have a bruise, scratch or rash on her, no breakdown of her skin, and she was coiffed, manicured and pedicured.
No sooner had my mom passed than, in early 2012, my 13 year-old cat developed diabetes. He drank water non-stop, was ravenous, and peed non-stop, too. He withered away from a plump 14 pounds to 9 pounds. His hind quarters bent under, as if from arthritis, and he would often fall backward when trying to jump on a chair or table. He was failing, and I thought he’d be dead in a year. I was heartbroken. This cat has been my companion longer than my second husband (my first died in a car accident in 1997 [see COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY this blog]). My cat obeys me as a dog would. Each morning, he jumps on my bed to snuggle and wake me up. Each night, he does the same. When I say, “good night…go lay down,” he jumps off the bed and exits the room.
We began giving him insulin shots. I should say that it was mostly my husband, as he was more able than I to keep the cat still. My husband gave him treats after each shot, and he experimented with food in an attempt to make him regain his weight. My cat has always been an indoor cat, but now that he was so weak, we knew we could leave him on our second floor deck — which has no staircase — without fear of a kitty escape. The cat loved being outside. Soon, he was able to jump up on a short stone bench at the end of the deck, and roll around on the sun-warmed stone. Both my husband and I would set aside time each day to take the cat out.
Soon, I noticed a change in my cat. He began to seek out my husband, to sit on his lap, or next to him on the couch, something he had only ever done to me. And each night, when it was time for his shot, the cat would come and sit at my husband’s feet — not for the shot, but for the treat afterward.
My cat began to gain weight, he became more animated and playful. He was easily jumping onto my lap again.
Now, when we’re on the deck, we have to keep a careful eye on him because he’ll jump onto the four-inch wide railing and walk the length of the house in perfect balance. His hips are no longer bowed under. His coat is thick and silky.
This weekend, my cat demonstrated the full extent of his recovery when he chased our younger cat around the house. Her escape has always been to jump on a 40 inch wall that separates our upstairs hall from the stairs leading to our lower level. Well, she jumped, all right, but then so did my 15-year-old male!
My husband, my hero.
For another fun article for cat lovers, check out WALL STREET JOURNAL sports page, A MANAGER AND HIS CATS, about baseball’s Tony La Russa,10/8/2013 http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303492504579111693439287508
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