November 4, 2003

My Mother and Fibi

I hope no one takes the following the wrong way. I am sitting at the dining room table using my ibook looking across at my mom sleeping in her recliner in the living room. In many ways her daily life seems to resemble that of Fibi, our eleven year old cat, who is sitting on her lap. Mom enjoys eating, welcoming a variety of foods. She enjoys being around people and being touched and stroked. She is touched so much more now than when she lived alone as a widow from 1987 to 2000. I am playing Bach's St. Luke's Passion on the stereo. Mom likes the room warm. In fact the only complaint she reliably makes is if she is too cold or our hands are too cold. She gets more awake and animated when there are visitors or a change in routine; she is pleased when they sit next to her, hold her hand, tell her how good she looks.

She stills wants her gray hair touched up because she cares about looking pretty. She enjoys showering and being clean. She seems to enjoy being outside, notices trees and flowers. She seems content though her daily routine is totally different than it was when she was younger. What her inner life is, I can't guess. For all I know, she could be having thrilling dreams; certainly she doesn't seem to have nightmares. She looks peaceful when she is sleeping.

When I feel overwhelmingly sad about how Mom has changed, I remind myself that I don't feel sorry for Fibi; she is just older, not the energetic, exciting cat she used to be who used to walk across our curtains rods. But we still love her, enjoy her, love to touch her, and are very glad she is around.

All the years Mom was healthy, she wasn't overly fond of Fibi, who is a rather temperamental cat. But now they both have mellowed and spend most of their days together. Fibi seems to know Mom requires gentleness. I don't mean to insult my mom in the least. I am trying to reframe her experience to make it more bearable for everyone. Cat lovers would understand.

Fibi seemed to be searching for my mother for weeks after her death. Her personality seems to have permanently mellowed.

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