My Dad’s Dead Cat

My previous post about toilet behaviour was a moment of levity while I pondered a few things personally.

Given the private nature of myself I try to avoid much details of my life beyond my opinions of the political, beer related or free speech/free thought kind.  The most personal posts I’ve done on here relate to dead pets and this one will be no exception; give or take.  That I’ve procrastinated in posting this in order to get my head around things has allowed life to move on a bit and I now write this with a sense of hope.

My mum would have it that “your father has always been afraid to talk to you,” which of itself is a bit ridiculous but I do get what she means.  My dad is a practical soul and I’m, for lack of a better word, an academic.  Conversations between us are mainly me asking him questions or telling him stories in order to engage his interest, in my old science jobs this would require me to save up about a fortnights worth of banal tales all for half an hour of one-sided chit-chat.

This is the inverse to how my dad is with my mum.  On his visits to her in order to use the toilet and nab a free coffee or tea he too will either sit in silence while my mum works around him or follow her around ranting.  I have yet to experience the latter but I get it from other quarters anyway so that is my penance.

“That Erasure, not bad for a couple of poofs,” is the only opinion my dad has really ever expressed unprompted.  This from a man who happily sang along to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  A proper boomer.

However since I started brewing he has shown a very keen interest in all its aspects; including, much like the shopkeeper in Mr. Benn, turning up at my work out of nowhere to just hang around while every so often knocking on stuff with a crooked index finger (a habit I also do, especially with walls in unfamiliar surroundings).

My dad and the male side of his family, have a history of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, etc. but thanks to modern medicine, even a man who once insisted he drove himself to the hospital after a car battery exploded on him (and again when he burnt his hand in a chip pan) has quiet significantly surpassed the age at which his dad died.

It is always odd writing these things, a fear of tempting horrible fate takes hold but life is what it is.

As “luck” would have it, it was again on a forced hospital visit that symptoms my dad simply ignored because he associated them with his health’s history, that something more serious was found but after treatment it seems to have regressed and he can go back to bothering about his blood pressure again.

During that period it was the first but subsequently not the only time I saw my dad tearful.  I wouldn’t say cry, my dad is a person who doesn’t cry.

As a child I recall my dad visibly upset three times.  When his mother died.  When my mum’s mother died.  And when it was announced that Ayrton Senna had died.

His first bout of tears I saw were born of frustration.  Confined to a bed and swamped in the hospital by relatives, including one who’s sole word, to be fair trying to process the whole situation themselves, was “The Christie,” rather than simply telling everyone to fuck off (I’d only just arrived) his emotions came out in the water works.  This cleared the room except for me and him, so we could engage in another hour of tales and elongated comfortable silences.

Later, on the morphine he was proscribed his emotions were even more unpredictable and any tears during this phase I associated with him being off his face.

Truncating this tale to the present and my dad again appears at work.  It was not unexpected, except for his out-of-thin-air appearance, as I’d been forewarned that he’d had to take his cat to the vets.

I knew the drill; carry on working around him, watch him knock on things, answer his random questions and then when the time was right, I’d ask how he was and see if he wanted to talk about it.

The barely disguised tears started as he recounted finding his cat dragging herself around the kitchen floor, a blood clot had paralysed her back legs.  I too had had to deal with a cat in similar circumstances (and a dog too) and it is quite brutal.  To paraphrase George Carlin  “I’ve got half a cat, the front end is perfectly serviceable, it’s just the back end.”

You always feel like you’ve betrayed the pet you take to the vet somehow but you tell yourself, rightly, that there was no quality of life to be had, and we should all be thankful we can at least euthanise our pets.

But sat with him it then occurred to me, given some other things that were happening in his life, this would be the first time my dad would be coming home to an empty house.

We are quite a nuclear family (I’ve just looked up this term, it seems I’ve been using it incorrectly all this time), all the direct members of our clan (bar two) live within a 5-10 mile radius but even in these times of realisation you sometimes can’t change our own nature.  To act out a different set of behaviours based on worry would be noted, commented on and nixed before it even got going.  So we all just revert to type.  So; much like a cat, if my dad wants something then he’ll come to you, you don’t need to continuously approach him unless you are either bringing food, or need to borrow some tools.

You don’t need to worry and you definitely don’t need to fuss.  The fuss will be sought as and when required.

You will worry but that is for you to deal with.

I did raise the subject of getting another cat but he just didn’t feel like it.  Emotions being raw.  I could call his home phone but he seldom answers it.  I could try and call his newly sim-carded mobile but it is always switched off.  I wait.

He is going to be looking after guide dogs.

Well, that is his plan.  His plan, that he came to all by himself.

When my mum lost one of her dogs, she got 15 cats to replace him (she is the quintessential crazy cat lady, plus I always feel she got them to deter my dad from visiting too often given his allergies).  When my dad loses his cat he will now look after dogs.  Dogs, the first time he’s going to have one in his house since he lost his only other previous dog some near forty years ago.

Catharsis for all.

 

Thanks for reading.

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