Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cat and the Curmudgeon

Old Man and Cat by Iryna Smolych

A friend loves at all times. . . Proverbs 17:17

"The only thing a cat is good for is a block under somebody's tire," the old curmudgeon often said with a scowl. If he had then spat on the floor, I would not have been surprised.

Thankfully, my husband did not inherit his father, Bill's sentiments and always loved cats. After Bill suffered congestive heart failure, he was forced to come live with us for a month. I was curious to see just how he and our cat would work things out.

When Bill lost his wife twelve years earlier, he also lost interest in life in general and his health deteriorated. Naturally, the doctor did not want him to be home alone during his recuperation, so we brought Bill to our house.

Instructed to rest and relax, my father-in-law spent a lot of time just sitting on the recliner, watching TV. Daniel, our cat at the time, loved the comfort of a warm lap. Finding the temptation irresistible, Daniel jumped up and stared at Bill. Glaring at the cat with disdain, Bill said, "What do you want?"

Ignoring Bill's growls, Daniel made himself comfortable. His persistence gradually won Bill over and we found the two of them asleep on the recliner many times during those weeks Bill lived with us.

About three months after Bill returned home, he completely surprised us with the news that he had adopted a cat of his own! It seems his neighbor's cat had presented her with a litter of kittens and Bill had selected a little female he named Myrtle.

What a wonderful difference Myrtle made in my father-in-law's life! No more whiling away the hours sitting in front of the TV. Myrtle became his entertainment—hiding under the daybed in his living room in wait for him to walk by so she could run out and grab him by the pant leg, racing Bill to the phone and wrestling with the cord, exploring every nook and cranny of his apartment, including the back of the refrigerator and inside the desk drawers.

Bill loved Myrtle’s antics. She gave him reasons to get up off his recliner and move around, (usually to rescue her from some mischief she had gotten herself into.)

Myrtle also provided Bill with much needed companionship. She followed him from room to room, even into the shower! At meal time she sat beside him, begging for tidbits. When Bill napped on the recliner, Myrtle curled up on his belly. And she eagerly greeted him at the door when he returned from running errands. Bill needed that rambunctious little bundle of fur!

One day as my husband and I were leaving Bill’s home, we looked back to see Myrtle sitting on the porch rail with Bill looking lovingly down at her. The picture of the two of them will be etched in my memory forever. Not long before I would have scoffed at the very suggestion of Bill loving a cat. But Daniel thrust a paw into the door of Bill's heart and Myrtle eagerly scrambled in.


©2011 Pamela D. Williams