Thursday, July 22, 2010
She won’t let me work. She’s on my lap, demanding attention. The more I try to push her away, the more demanding she gets. So I finally let her up. She’s not content to just sit on my lap, she needs me to be cuddling and caressing her between calls. She purrs and licks my chin until I pet her, and then she purrs some more. The cat’s tongue feels like sandpaper – must be nature’s way of helping her clean herself?

Her name is Diablo, but we call her SnowPus because when we had that really bad winter a few years back, we discovered she adores the snow. She was my mom’s ‘vacation cat’. As in, my mother came back to Canada for a two-month vacation from Dubai one year, and couldn’t stand living without a cat so bought this pure white kitten, and trusted my brother to look after her when mom went home. My brother did take care of her, and my mom moved back to Canada a year or so later, bringing a zoo of animals including 7 cats with her.

When mom died, she left behind SnowPus, and 4 of the 7 cats she’d come back from Dubai with (the other three died before mom did – and my mom cried her eyes out every time). She also left us Max, the rat-like Chihuahua. At this very moment, Max is cuddled in bed with Lars who is getting some much-needed rest; SnowPus is on my lap purring away and the other 4 cats are up stairs or out in the yard doing what cats do.

Exactly a year ago today, or rather midnight tonight, is the exact time my brother called me to tell me mom was on her way to the hospital again, by ambulance. Less than 5 hours later, around 4:30am on July 23rd, she suffered the last of 7 heart attacks she’d had that night and died. On July 23rd, just after 3pm, I sat next to the hospital bed that my mom’s body was laying on – and through my tears, wished her a happy 55th birthday.

We later learned that the cause of her heart attacks, the cause of her death was Septicaemia (otherwise known as blood poisoning). A week or so earlier, she was diagnosed with blood poisoning, caused by a cat-bite she’d gotten while trying to save SnowPus’s life from the grips of Wrinky; the three-legged cat that came home from Dubai with her. Wrinky bit into my mother hard. It’s safe to assume through my mother’s binge drinking, blacking out, and pure lack of self-concern, she didn’t take any prescribed medicines and if she did, she didn’t take them correctly.

My mom lived her whole life catering to cats. She collected cats – both live and those created artistically. Every ornament she ever bought had a cat on it, every shirt she ever wore, and every set of dishes the ever purchased with glee. She was so obsessive about cats; she used to joke about whom she was going to leave her cat collection to when she passed. We contemplated opening a cat museum, or a cattery for people to board cats in her care.

Wrinky bit into my mom, while my mom tried to save another of her cats from her. Wrinky herself, coincidently, had been saved by my mother’s pure heart years before, when my mom asked for her birthday gift only to be that Wrinky get the surgery that cost thousand’s of dollars and left her a leg short, after being hit by a car. The three-legged cat still lives with us today, but she’s kept separate from SnowPus at all times. And when in err the two do cross paths in the yard, they immediately start off where they left off - trying to kill each other.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a greater irony. The very creature she’d spent the majority of her life trying to save helped induce my mom’s death...

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No matter where I am, I'm lost and learning to like it. I'm a living contradiction, and the best lies I tell are the ones I tell myself.
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