Death and Life

When our kitten Holly was six months or so old we learned that she was horribly ill. She began walking with a wobbly rear end. University of Google said it was a neurological illness with the layman friendly name of Wobbly Cat Syndrome. That didn’t seem too bad. We have a kitten with special needs. Lucky she found us because we are a family filled with special needs. Need a little extra help with something? Line forms to the rear, Sweetie. We have jackets and a team song.  Welcome to the club.

Time moved on and Holly started having trouble using the litter box. Annoying to be sure, but I have had toddlers in my life before; this isn’t fatal. Next we tried to get her de-sexed and the vet wouldn’t do the procedure because of the wobbling….could be something more serious, he said. Let’s get some history on her, he said. The vet then called the rescue when adopted her from and that’s when we learned the ugly truth.  We now heard that all her littermates haddied from Feline Infectious Perionitus- known as FIP.  Her brothers and sisters all died within a few weeks of birth. The foster mom didn’t want to worry me because Holly lived and seemed fine. She didn’t know that there are some cases of FIP that don’t just show until 6-9 months of age. She didn’t realise that the chances of a mother cat transmitting FIP to all but one kitten in utero is next to nil. A nice person, but she didn’t know.

Again University of Google was called on deck and I learned far more than I ever wanted to know about this wretched disease.  The worst thing I learned was that it was fatal. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  Fatal though, always fatal. Nothing left to do but watch, wait, and see what symptoms developed and treat them as they come until the end.

Being the mature responsible adult I am, I ignored this new development completely. A kitten dying in my house? Dying right in front of my children? Nope. My battle-weiry brain was putting up with none of this crap. Buried on the back burner underneath a pile of Life’s woes,  the tidbit of horror was shelved. There it stayed because I simply was not going to deal with this. 

Last month a tidal wave of calamitous events began.  My son shattered his leg and we lived for a week in the hospital. Just as it looked like he was starting to recover we were hit again.  My husband called me as I was next to my sons sick bed to tell me that Holly had fallen and that he was on his way to the vet. Since we were already dividing up duties, that meant my girls had to go along to the vet and hear every word about Holly, FIP and what kind of death was coming.

Ignoring the hot mess was abruptly removed from our list of options. Death was coming and it was coming quickly.  It could be days or weeks now, but it was coming and we all knew it. 

Death is not a pleasant house guest. Death is a rotton bastard that sits in the corner and eavesdrops on every conversation. He shadows every aspect of your life. Every time you try to plan ahead, Death is there laughing at you; loudly erasing your plans off the calendar. Death makes you angry. You see Death every damn day, hiding in every room you enter and you say horrible things that  of course, you don’t mean. “Won’t you just die already! I have so much to do! I don’t have time to deal with this also!”  Death then giggles when the guilt of saying those awful things eats you alive. Death agrees that you are a selfish, evil bastard. 

Death doesn’t stay forever though. Death reaches the end and Death decide when enough is enough. Holly had another seizure, this leaving her unable to walk or hold her head up. She stopped eating and drinking. I signed my girls out of school early and along with my son we spent the afternoon with her. We carried her into the yard so she could smell flowers and tickle her nose with the grass. She got to hiss at Sasha one last time.

Death rode shotgun with me later in the day as I dove Holly to the vet. I held her wrapped up in a towel against my chest while Death jeered at me that I would cause an accident. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel her heartbeat against my chest as long as I could. Death sat next to me in the waiting room as an elderly couple with an annoying yip dog tried to talk to me about my poor sick puss.  I was so rude. I told them she was sick and I snapped that I was there to put her down. They were nice people, just trying to make conversation, but Death was right there, tapping his watch. Reminding me that time was slipping away. I had no time to be polite.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point Death seemed to be working with me, rather than against me.  It must have been Death that helped me walk into the treatment room because my legs were shaking far too much to move under my own power. God knows I couldn’t carry Holly in by myself. In the treatment room though, this is where Death took over for me. I would never have stood by and watched someone inject a lethal dose of drug to stop the beating heart of an eight month old kitten.  I couldn’t possibly have held her little frightened face, making sure the last thing she saw was my face telling her that the pain was stopping now and just how sorry I was. Death was there and he spirited her away right in front of my eyes.

Then it was over. The unwelcome guest and the special needs kitten were gone. The vet asked if I wanted a few minutes with her but I couldn’t see the point, Holly was gone. I left her with the blanket I carried her in. Simple minded me, I didn’t want her to be cold while laying on the stainless steel table. I’m rolling my eyes as I type this.  I ran to car and sobbed stupidly as I drove home.

Death and Life go together. You can not have one without the other. Death is both feared and welcomed. I am glad this beautiful creature isn’t suffering anymore but a part of my soul died with her.  Just a part though, the rest is still alive.  That’s because now that Death is gone, his soul mate Life is back.  Life is here, demanding that the laundry get done and that homework is completed. Life wants dinner made and movies watched. Life is throwing Monty cat and Damn Dog in my face, reminding me that they are still here. As I type this,  Monty is lying on my arm, pawing at my face. He’s hungry and its breakfast time. Life goes on.

What to Say?

I started this blog because my son broke his arm and I needed to keep overseas relatives informed of his treatment and because I needed to write about what was happening.  It’s been my only source of honest communication in my life.  I say what I want here and I don’t censor myself.  Which of course has caused me a few other problems.  Maybe someday I’ll be welcome back at my kids school….

Now my son has broken his leg and we are caught up in this vortex of nastiness.  The kitten we adopted is apparently dying of a disease and there is nothing we can do but wait and watch it happen.  I’ve had this weird exhaustion type illness for a few months and doctors can’t seem to help me.

Want to read something funny?  It’s my oldest daughters birthday and she is used to a big splash of attention.  A family party, a WOW treat sent to school and a big friends party. We are a bit disjointed now.  Days after her birthday I finally stopped at Woolies and grabbed some cookies for her to take in.  We are having a party on Sat for her and I have stollen every idea I could find from other parties and can’t come up with anything she really likes.  W.o.w.  is an understatement.  The really funny part is that her Aspergers is limiting her ability to sympathize with my plight right now so she is acting like a two year old and doing her best to get my attention.  Every morning she has some ache or pain that is killing her and only I can diagnose and save her.  She pops up in my face just as I’m helping her brother to his feet to have a private personal conversation.  I day dream of whacking her with her brothers crutches.

Yep, that’s the funny part in my life right now.  And there’s more, so much more happening.  Some of it so awful I can’t even say it out loud, let alone type it.

I’m waiving the white flag here. Call me France, I surrender.  I do not want to be an adult anymore.

I don’t know if I’m going to write anymore. I’m just not funny anymore and no one wants to read a missive of whining.   Seems fitting…begin with a broken arm, end with a broken leg.  A nice, clean finish.  If this is it, thank you for joining in on the fun.  If there’s more, well hope it will be worth the wait.

Peace and love to all.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The first twenty-three years of my life I lived in the northeastern part of the United States. Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In this area, St. Patrick’s Day is a significant holiday for the Irish. Well,  I say the Irish, but what I really mean is Irish Americans. I don’t think Irish people from Ireland give a rats tush about March 17th, but those of us with ancestors from the Green Isle surely do. Americans hold hold onto their lineage much more than other countries do. I’ve heard it’s something yet else we do that annoys the rest of the world. Eh, so what if my relative left County Clare more than 200 years ago, I’m Irish. Pog Mo Thoin! Erin Go Braugh!

Living in Australia eight years I’ve really come to miss celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Dressing in green, buying the shamrock shake from McDonald’s, arguing over whether or not anyone actually likes corned beef and cabbage….for the record, I do not. That stuff is simply evil and, in my opinion,  is an Irish version of Quienes mas macho? If you can eat it and not vomit then you are a real man. I am not, not have I ever wanted to be, a real man. I’ll pass.

If you were lucky you knew someone who made soda bread, if not, well then you’d just buy it.  If you haven’t had any, please  do….its a delight. Then there was the traditional mocking of the poor souls not lucky enough to be Irish, maybe a parade or two and in my younger years….drinking until the wee hours.

Out of all the things gone from my life since leaving the US, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is what I miss the most. Perhaps because it represents so much more than one day…it symbolises my culture. I love Australia and I want to be here but some days I genuinely miss what made me into the person I am. Even worse, I’m afraid that with being gone so long, I don’t think I am me anymore. I miss what I was sometimes. I loved a good story and a drink. I loved singing songs about fighting the English & smoking in a bar with my treasured friends and I loved to watch a good fight. Not all my former characteristics were necessarily positive ones, but it’s who I was.

Today I put fancy green shamrock bows I made in my girls’ hair while explaining who was St. Patrick. They smiled, nodded and asked politely if I was done. I told them that I was making soda bread and they panicked until I assured them that they didn’t have to try it.  There will be no corned beef and cabbage tonight.  Oddly enough, I think I would actually try it if I was game enough to make it…which I am not.   tMy kids don’t know anything about my culture other than a few stories I’ve told and I have no way of showing them. This is the downside of leaving your homeland. Sometimes there are small bits you can’t replicate and when they are gone, you miss them. I miss me desperately this time of the year.

Happy St. Patrick’s’ Day to you and enjoy what ever holiday means the most to you.

“Dear Kitten” My Irish Rear End

Anthropomorphism is a bad thing.  I know this because 1) It’s a royal bugger to pronounce.  Seriously, try saying it quickly without hurting your tongue or sounding like you’ve just come off a three day bender.  I can’t do it. and 2) It leads us to have things created like the front pack carrier for little dogs.  That’s just wrong and those that buy it are in fact, idiots.  Yeah, I said it.  It’s a dog, not a baby, get a life.

For the few of you that don’t know what anthropomorphism is, instead of mocking your lack of knowledge about ridiculously long words, let me just steal the Merriam Webster definition for you.  I do this because even though I know what it means, I sure as hell can’t spell it.

Anthropomorphism: an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics.  

Wow, glad we cleared that up.  Basically it’s when you put human characteristics on non human things. Think of Beauty and the Beast and the talking clock and tea pot.

There, we’ve all had a language lesson today; everyone feel enlightened? No, bored?  Ah, yes, time to get to the point.  Anthropomorphism is bad because it leads us to give non-human objects or creatures thoughts they simply don’t have.  It’s bad; if not inherently dangerous.

For example, I now have two cats.  One angry old man cat and now one adorable young spry 3 month or so old kitten. Said kitten arrived after I sat and watched one two many “Dear Kitten” videos on YouTube.  Here is a link to the first one.

How adorable is this?!?!?!  The cat is warning the kitten about the dangers of the vaccum.  LOVE IT!   I wanted this Master/Padewan scenario soooo badly.  Think of it.  The older, yet wiser cat, sharing the life wisdom of 4 years of his life with the young eager kitten, desperate for knowledge and understanding.`  I wanted to see this in my house mainly because I wanted to show my kids that it’s possible and ADVISABLE to learn from their elders.  Their father obviously. Clearly the word elder can NEVER be used to describe me.  EVER.

I just knew we could have this loving, caring display right in our very home so Welcome Holly!  We were all so thrilled about her joining our family.  For the purpose of this article I should mention that “We” is in fact defined as the kids and me. “Thrilled” is not the word that Monty cat used.  “Thrilled” ends up be loosely defined as a hatred that burns like the fires of Mordor + my hatred of spiders and snakes.

Holly’s arrival has in fact gone over as well as lead zeppelin.  A lead zeppelin crashing into the Titanic on the way to the bottom of the ocean. The Apollo space missions had more initial success that we’ve had in uniting the kitty coalition. Monty isn’t dear kittening a miserable damn thing. He just glares at her.  Exhibit A:

Monty Glare

Look at those eyes.  Tell me you can’t feel the animosity coming off of him.

Sasha (Damn Dog), on the other hand, wants to play with the kitten.  That’s just great, except that cute tiny Holly hates. Sasha’s. ever. loving. guts.  Stupid kitten weighs roughly one kilogram and is strong willed enough to hiss, spit and strike out at the twenty nine kilo dog every time she passes.  Not too much grey matter in this kitty. This led to the rather costly “Dog mouths kitten to shut her up, inadvertently punctures lung and kitten almost dies” incident of mid-January. Exhibit B:

Holly vet

Eh, who needed a holiday, school shoes or a college fund anyway?  It’s enough for me to know that my vet can now enjoy a month in Fiji after my paying the bill to save the kitten’s life. Now kitten and dog are physically separated as much as possible. That’s easy enough.  But where is the older cat and his sage wisdom for the young kitten? Gone.  Every time he walks into a room and sees Holly he makes a beeline for the nearest exit.  This is the closest I can find them together.


Don’t make my mistake and fall for the videos.  Cats are not sage mentors eager to help each other out.  They could care less about the village and how it survives.  All those cute pictures you see on Facebook, Reddit and You Tube of cat, kittens and dogs mingling together?  Photoshop.  Remember that.  Nothing you see in videos are real. The sanity you save may just be your own.


It’s Okay, I have the Check Book

This morning was the first day of the new school year and did I spend it reviling in regained freedom from fighting or tears from letting my babies go? Nope. I spent it in a panicked state at the doctors office. I hate to admit that I was that concerned but pride be damned, I was worried.

Worried because last night I went to bed with a few bumps on my chin thinking I was getting acne. Worried because all night I had dreams of being bitten by ants, having spiders crawl on me and another dream of me being forced to wear a woolen union suit while singing “Tiny Dancer” Of course in my mind the song is sung as “Hold Me Closer Tony Danza”   I know, I know…just when you think the level of weirdness of my life can go no higher….it goes to Eleven.

Returning to my story now… I awoke in a damn near panic when I found that my neck, chest and face were covered in raised, itchy, red welts.

No, this was not good. I don’t have any serious allergies and I have not been trapsing in the bush so this was unexpected and bad….very bad. I called my doctor and she suggested I come in just after I dropped the girls off at school. I had the entire car ride to sit and stew about what my options were in regards to my new acquired illness.

Dear God, it’s Measles. I bet it’s Measles. Those miserable lunatic anti-Vaxer nut jobs have finally done it and given me Measles. Twenty minutes of traffic jammed madness later and I had warped myself into quite the frenzy.  I was practically chewing on the steering wheel as I pulled in to the doctor’s parking lot.

Once checked in I decided to wait outside on the covered porch in case I was contagious. The waiting room was full and I was nervous that if I did have something horrible I would pass it along. Got a few weird looks for standing out in the rain, but my self-induced martyrdom shielded me. ” I’m doing this for you!!!” I screamed back through the window (well, in my head that is) “Just say thank you!!”
As I stood in damp exile I started to ponder again about having Measles. My God, what would I do? I have incredible friends and I know they would do what they could but be realistic…..they have their own lives. No, this would be a disaster.

On top of it all, not only would I be sick, but I would be incarcerated for beating the hell out of the first anti-Vaxer I could get my hands on.

It’s true.That’s the idea that ripped through my brain. I thought it, accepted it as a fact and rapidly began to plan for the outcome. I was going to jail. I wasn’t upset about the jail part.  That was simply the inevitable outcome of a scenario in which I contracted Measles.

As quickly as my plan formed a memory of my father popped into my head. Years after I left high school my mom told me once about a time my dad was going to solve a problem I had.  It seems that when I was 17 I had my heartbroken by a boy (I know, hardly original) and I spent a few days sobbing on the couch. I’m sure ice cream was involved. Part way through one of sobbing episodes my mother looked out the front window to see my dad heading to the car. Leaning out the window she asked where he was going.

With great calmness and decisiveness of purpose he announced that,” Cecelia was still crying so he was going to beat the shit out of the little bastard.” My mom, not usually known for her calm nature, but understanding the severity of the situation, spoke in relaxing, even-tones to remind him that he couldn’t go beating up a teen age boy; that he would get arrested. My father stopped again, and replied, “No, no. It’s okay, I have the check book with me.” He knew perfectly well that it was wrong to beat his daughter’s boyfriend to a bloody pulp and he was willing to accept the consequences. He was bringing the check book to post bail. It was the price he was willing to pay.

I saw the doctor and I do not have Measles. FYI, measles is not itchy, I did not know that. I am having an allergic reaction to something. I have medications now and all should be well. Unless it’s the start of a new developing allergy and I may be beginning a life-long process of itchy hell.  Either is an option. Personally, I’m hoping for option number one.

I did learn something about myself today, however. I am prepared to pay the consequences for my actions. If I or one of my children end up catching one of these hideous diseases because someone is trying to have their fifteen minutes of ill-deserved fame, I have no problem knocking them into next week. Hell, I’ve got a contingency plan started for it. Sure I’ll end up in jail, but at least I will have done something.  Something positive in my book.

I accept that it’s not the most adult or mature way to handle the situation. However maturity, logic and education combined hasn’t been terribly helpful in reigning in these wackos. Perhaps a little wall-to-wall counselling is in order after all. I bet I could get away with it. All If have to do is plead genetics. It’s in my blood, I have no choice. If it was good enough for my old man, it’s good enough for me.