Tomain's Blog

Buddy | February 13, 2010

Mom was always a fiercely independent woman and reaching into her mid eighties had not changed that one iota. Multiple bouts of cancer and the usual array of health problems associated with someone her age were no match for her indomitable spirit. She lived by herself in Florida for roughly half the year and here in Michigan the other half. For nearly two decades after my father passed Mom had gone about the business of living and she did it well.

 My mother had a long career working for the federal government. She had worked with men and had competed with men as a personnel officer for the V. A. Much of her career took place at a time when it was uncommon for women to have such responsibilities. She sometimes ran into a certain kind of resistance, something that a man in her same position would not have faced. But this too she handled with equal parts of skill, charm, and veracity. Along the way she impressed some talented men who sometimes had to stand in her corner.

 With the passage of time certain activities at first become more difficult and then eventually become impossible. Golf, once a passion, became a memory. Shopping and trips from the house were getting to be more of an obstacle. But mom always insisted on doing absolutely the very most she could. If an activity was no longer possible she would turn her attention elsewhere or maybe replace it with something else.

 There came the time when it simply was not safe for her to drive back and forth to Florida. But to convince Mom of that was something we all dreaded. My old boss came up with the answer and it was brilliant. We told her that a man who did odd jobs for my boss, wanted to visit up north but couldn’t afford the trip. It was the only way Mom would have consented to having Rick drive her back and forth. I later replaced Rick in that capacity and did so until she could no longer make the trip. Sometimes my girlfriend accompanied us and sometimes it was just Mom and myself. She looked forward to those trips and so did I.

Finally there came into Mom’s life a villain. Where all her other trials had failed, macular degeneration succeeded. It cut off her ability to watch the Atlanta Braves play and her beloved Chipper Jones. Her t.v. had become a radio in a shrinking world. Depression gained a foothold and life became dark indeed. And that was how it stood until Buddy entered the scene.

My niece had made it her mission for a while to place a rescue cat with every member of our family. She almost accomplished it too. Mom however had not had a pet for many decades, and besides that we had always had dogs. A cat just was not her cup of tea and she made that very clear. But when my girlfriend had Mom over for a weekend we couldn’t help but notice something. Our little cat, pudge, and my mother had really hit it off. A few days later my niece got a call from Mom, and Buddy, the latest rescue cat, had found a new home.

Over the next year or so Buddy became my hero. Even while he chased his little mouse toys, so too he chased the depression right out of my mother’s life. When I called Mom I would ask her how buddy was doing. Her reply was always the same.”Oh he’s doin, doin any way he can.” He would get her up early, the same time every morning. She would feed him and in return he would let her nap a little. He had given her purpose and companionship just when she needed it most.

 In what would turn out to be the last year of my mother’s life our family was put in a tough spot. Despite her failing health Mom still wanted to go to Florida. We all thought that this could be a disaster. However she was mentally competant, to put it mildly, and we just didn’t want to treat her as if she were a child. So with much tribulation we gathered together and loaded the car for the trip south. Finally it was the cat’s turn. But Buddy had a surprise for us, he wasn’t going. Even though he had made the trip before uneventfully, this time was different. This time unless you had a big game dart gun Buddy was staying right here. After a while and a mixture of both laughter and frustration Mom spoke. “Well I guess Buddy has decided that we’re staying.” And that was that. Mom died that very spring, but not before a winter celebration of her 90th Birthday. We gathered together with family and friends,old and new, and the one who had made the whole party possible, her beloved Buddy.

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