Tuesday 7 April 2009

Today is Daniel’s seventeenth birthday. To celebrate, he has taken Anna to Seguin on his first-ever driving jaunt without an adult driver beside him.


My firstborn son comes a bit late to the world of licensed driving. When he was fifteen there was no time for driver’s ed; we knew we would be moving before long and wanted him and Greg to get all the karate training they could while they still lived close to their teachers. He took driver’s ed this past fall, in Seguin, and got his license 31 March. After that it took several days to get him insured, so it fell out that today, his birthday, is the first day it has been both legal and feasible for him to drive on his own.


I have an empty house now. Greg is at work, and Emilie will be away all day doing volunteer work with horses, at the same place where she attended horse camp. Anna blithely told me, as she and Daniel were preparing to leave, that in my solitude I could write and write and write. Ha! I am experiencing a low-grade anxiety, somewhat akin to the feeling I used to have when the kids were very small and newly potty trained and we would leave the house for quick jaunts. Not exactly conducive to concentration.


There is no cause for serious worry. Daniel is a good, careful driver, and Anna has the map and the cell phone. And he has to start driving on his own sometime; otherwise what’s the point of getting a license?


We have had some health concerns lately in our local feline community. Navo, the black-and-white cat we adopted as a kitten when the kids were young, spent the first eight years of her life as a confirmed house cat, but since our move she has developed a liking for the great outdoors. She now eats outside with her fellow cats, the mostly-outdoor Kitterling clan, and generally enjoys getting out and about to prowl.


Saturday night, Navo was bitten by a snake. Of course this was discovered right after I went to bed, as such things usually are. Her dangling front paw was grossly swollen, and dripped blood and venom from two puncture wounds. Her pupils were dilated, and she yowled in pain.


Internet sources advised putting a tight, but not too tight, bandage around her limb to slow the venom’s progress to her heart. This was accomplished, but not without considerable foul language on the part of the cat.


Internet sources also advised getting the cat to the vet as soon as possible. This was simply not practicable for us. We prayed for Navo, made her as comfortable as we could, adjusted her bandage as needed, and waited.


We decided it would be best not to force the cat to lie down; instead, we let her be the judge of what position and location would be most comfortable for her. She moved around a lot. It was rather pitiful to see her limp from place to place, as if seeking comfort and freedom from pain, her wounded paw still dripping yellow venom.


Within a couple of hours Navo had improved greatly, and Sunday morning she was nearly back to her usual activity level. She is now as sassy as ever, and back to her lofty perches on tops of wardrobes and pie safes.


But Sunday morning, little Fifi, also known as Flameface, did not show for breakfast. Emilie hunted her and found her huddled miserably under the house, obviously ill. She trembled, and her little body was hot with fever.


Fifi has always been smaller and weaker than the other Kitterlings; her mother was the thinnest of the adult females, and her littermates did not survive infancy.


Again, a vet visit was not practicable. Fifi would have to take her chances with what care we could give.


The first thing to do was to get some food in her. Fasting is dangerous for cats because it hurts their kidneys. Anna force-fed Fifi some cut-up pieces of chicken hearts. Anna is an expert force-feeder of cats, having had lots of practice with Prissy.


Then, again, we prayed, watched, and waited. For a while things did not look good. Fifi had that limp rag-doll look that is so ominous in cats, and she wanted to crawl off to dark hidey-holes. We set up a bed for her under Greg’s nightstand, provided a water bowl, and prayed some more.


Monday morning Fifi seemed a little better. Anna force-fed her another chicken heart. She was seen to sit up and groom herself and look around with interest at her surroundings. In the afternoon she ate a chicken heart all by herself.


Fifi seems as happy and grateful in her convalescence as any human patient recovering from a debilitating illness. She purrs a lot. She purred when sick, too, whenever any of us would lay a hand on her. We are all grateful to have the cats restored to good health.


It’s an old saw, but true: we seldom appreciate good health until we lose it.  Those who lose it and regain it have both the blessing itself, and the maturity of perspective that empowers them to cherish it to the full. How good it is to draw breath without a struggle, to keep a meal down, to stand upright, to live free from pain and the fear and fatigue that accompany it.


Daniel called. He and Anna safely reached the library. And I have done some writing after all.

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