Chick Wit: Those also serve who only wait

Posted: March 04, 2012

If you're worried about Spunky, you needn't be.

I got this.

And since I'm in a post-op life-lessons mood, I learned another one, this time from a cat.

You may recall that Spunky is the orange tabby that belonged to my late friend Harry, who had rescued him as a kitten some 14 years ago and lived alone with him all this time. I will remind you that Harry called himself Harry the Hermit, so you can guess that Spunky isn't exactly on Facebook.

Until the cat came to my house, he had never seen another cat, much less a dog or Ruby the Crazy Corgi, which is another creature entirely.

For this reason I had some trepidation about bringing Spunky home, but I loved Harry, and Harry loved Spunky, so it was natural to complete the circle of love. Also, I offer the best home any pet could have, because it's their world and I just pay for it.

Spunky's vet advised me to start Spunky out in his own room, but the thing about my house is that none of the rooms is closed off, especially to animals.

Like I said.

Their world.

The only rooms with doors are the bedrooms, and Spunky couldn't be in mine, because all the dogs sleep with me, which left Daughter Francesca's bedroom.

Rather, Spunky's new bedroom.

My nest isn't empty, it contains a geriatric cat.

For the first day or two, Spunky sat on the floor in a corner of his new bedroom, and he didn't respond to any attention, nor did he eat, drink, or poop. I was about to call the vet, but then poop appeared in his litter box and I rejoiced.

Yes, I have that much fun.

By the end of week one, Spunky was eating and drinking in his bedroom, but he never moved from under the desk, on top of the heater. I set up a little bed for him there, which he didn't use, and spent a little Spunky Time with him every day, on the floor.

After my bunion surgery, it's easy to get down on the floor. The floor is my favorite place, because if I'm already there, I'm not falling there. I have yet to get the hang of the walker, which is as it should be. I don't plan on using one until never.

But to stay on point, though Spunky permitted himself to be petted, he neither purred nor recoiled. He was OK with my being there, but I didn't matter.

I felt the same way in my marriages.

But I'm not divorcing Spunky, though it would be cheaper.

Also on week one, I opened his door and put a gate in front of it, so he could come and go if he wished, or have a playdate with one of my other cats. But there was no sign of his coming out, nor of the other cats going in. I might have missed a secret nocturnal meeting, but I didn't install a cat cam. The day I spy on my pets, I need to get a life.

Or a midlife.

But there was no change in Spunky. Still, every day I went in for Spunky Time and talked to him. I told him to join the family and have some fun, and finally, one day, he leaned into my hand to be petted.

Yay!

Later on, I had a conversation with Mother Mary. Of course, it wasn't about Spunky, because I still haven't told her about Harry's death. I'm still waiting for the right moment. In 2015.

"What are you up to?" I ask her, when she picks up.

"Laundry."

"Aw, why don't you go outside, to get some sun?"

"Nah."

"How about some shopping? Did you buy your new sheets?"

"Not yet. Maybe later."

I try to assess her tone. Is she depressed? Tired? Sick, negative? None of the above or all of the above? "Ma, you OK?"

"Sure, I'm fine," she says, chuckling. "How're you?"

And that's when it hits me.

She's Spunky.

She doesn't have to be doing anything - running errands, going places, making new friends. She's content, and at peace, just by being.

At her age, she's earned the right to be settled, and still.

And so has Spunky.

I went upstairs to tell him my revelation. I told Spunky he was home, where he could just relax, and that he had already joined the family, simply by being our elder statesman, who sits on the heater.

He looked up at me with round golden eyes, and he lifted his chin to be scratched.

No, he didn't purr.

He didn't have to.


Lisa Scottoline's new novel, "Come Home," will be published April 10. Lisa and Francesca Serritella's book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter," is in bookstores now. Visit Lisa at scottoline.com.

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