Sunday, March 06, 2005

Can't Stop the Spring. Sometimes You'd Like to.

Yesterday was the first day of spring. And our cat Popcorn had all her teeth pulled. And my wife's mom went into the hospital to die.

None of those things is precisely and completely true. Close enough, though. Emotionally right, you might say.

The spring thing: After what seemed like a month of rainy days, the sun came out and stayed out. The temperature hit 70, liked the feel of it, and kept moving up. Last Fall I planted a whole bag full of bargain bulbs and had long completely forgotten what they were. They were daffodils. The sun was in the sky and the sun was in the garden. The actual date notwithstanding, for me it was the first day of spring, and I will take it personally if subsequent weather patterns prove me wrong.

As for Popcorn -- who is almost 19 and god knows what that is in cat years -- the vet actually left two teeth behind. I quote now from Cats International:

The adult cat has 30 teeth: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars and 4 molars. The large, curved, pointed canines are important for stabbing and clasping while hunting. The premolars are like scissors which slice the prey into pieces that are small enough for the cat to swallow. Cats do not chew their food--they chop it up and swallow it. Cats that only eat commercially-prepared pet foods never have the opportunity to slice up large, tough food objects and their teeth may suffer as a result. (The fibers in fresh meat help to cleanse the teeth.)

She had an abcess underneath her jaw that made her look like a bullfrog. She must have been in a good deal of pain. I wish we had been more attentive, but she's old and sleeps a great deal and no longer relishes human contact, so we don't love her up all over as often as we used to. Clearly it is practical to continue to love up old kitties whether they like it or not. In certain contexts, love is apparently a thrifty emotion, given the price of feline dental surgery.

Now, Eydie's mom.

She is suffering congestive heart failure. She could live another five years -- and interestingly enough even at 93 the actuarial tables say her life expectancy is 98. But she's 93, almost 94. Every day all of us wake up dying, of course, in the same way we all wake up winning the lottery. I mean each outcome is possible and if we are young enough and healthy enough we are able to wish most desperately for an improbable event, ignoring the difference between the unlikely bad and the practically impossible good.

At my age I don't want any surprises, thank you. Probabilities are still on my side. (All I ask is that today be ordinary.) But my wife's mom has reached the point that we fear it will be a surprise if she comes out of the hospital. This is not necessarily true, but it feels true. My wife says that several times every day she suddenly notices her body wants to cry. She's not thinking about her mom, she says. But suddenly -- tears.

But right now my wife is on her cell phone talking to her mother in the hospital in Florida. Her mother is on her own cell phone.

I have no idea if unlimited long distance minutes night and weekends is therapeutic, but I expect it is, at both ends.

1 comment:

G Pabst said...

I hope you get the chance, as a writer, which I did a few weeks ago. My father-in-law was in the same predicament, confined to a cosmic medical waiting room.
And I was asked to write his obituary. Which was my good-bye postcard to the guy - my friend - though he never read it. And when I spoke at his memorial (I teach public speaking and gave myself a "B-") I was comforted by the knowledge that I had done much better in print.
Though when it came time to print, it was deemed too long (expensive) - and since I was on the East Coast - it fell to my worthy spouse to edit.
I was secretly (and now publically) relieved to not to have to cut this particular copy. I'd said everything I wanted/needed to.

An old joke about advertising goes: how many ____ does it take to change a lightbulb?
Art directors: does it have to be a lightbulb?
Account executives: we'll have to prepare the client for a brief dakrness first, don't you think?
As for (us erstwhile) copywriters: it's perfect. I'm not changing a damn thing!
Good luck, brother!