Cat under a cold tin roof

An antidote for covid isolation

A cat is the perfect companion in this age of covid anxiety.

My cat is contemplative, like me. She looks out the window, lost in her own thoughts. I try to imagine what they are. Cleopatra? Catnip treats? Certainly not Covid.

She eats sparingly, like me. She is a spartan. She naps frequently, on the bed and on the sofa and in various chairs, like me.

She doesn’t read but she listens to me when I read to her, blinking her eyes from time to time which I’m told is a sign of contentment. I tell her there will no questions at the end so she doesn’t need to make notes. She keeps it all in her head. She keeps her own counsel.

Yet we communicate. I say good morning Bella Donna, and she replies succinctly in her own language. I ask her if she wants some special treats from the cupboard and her reply is more vocal.

If I stay up after ten o’clock watching a movie she jumps up on the arm of the armchair and puts her paw on my shoulder. Her message is clear: It’s time for bed.

So to bed we go and she curls up on the bottom of the bed, her body pressed against my legs. Ah, security. Warmth. Safety. Peace in the valley.


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No venomous snakes in the bungalow

Bella Donna Michelini (aka Babe) has such stories to tell

Companionship of a cat

A cat, an indoor cat, is excellent company for an aging widower in Covid solitude.

Since being sentenced to an indefinite term of house arrest in a bungalow bereft of human companionship, I sleep a lot — or rather I stay in bed a lot, not so much sleeping as just lying in bed, and when not in bed, on the bed, reading and perusing the electronic ether. And thinking. Remembering. My wife most of all but also my son and my two brothers and my mother.

And the whole time Babe is curled up against my legs, secure in the warmth and safety of my presence.

Babe, I guess like most cats, is a philosopher not a do-er. She thinks a lot. When she’s not sleeping, she’s thinking. And also remembering.

It’s amazing to think that I was once a reporter dashing all over the place, all over the world in fact, with tremendous energy, and garrulous and gregarious to boot.

When I tell Babe this she stares at me with interest with a look that says, Hmmm, that is interesting — I’ve got a few stories myself.

I’m sure she has. Recently, over several nights, I read Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ aloud to her. She listened intently every night, nodding her head every now and then, her eyes bright with recollection. Her lips parted more than once as she appeared to mouth the name Tivali.*

When I got to the final scene of Act 5, where Cleopatra dies from the bite of the poisonous asp, Babe’s look turned almost painfully reflective. I closed the book and she jumped off the bed. Methinks she needed some time alone. 

Memories from one of her nine lives, I reckoned.

Companionship of a cat


* The name of Cleopatra’s favorite cat.

Cats in ancient Egypt were believed to be magical creatures that brought good luck to their owners. Cats killed venomous snakes and protected the Pharoah. Deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads. Many cats were mummified.


The road to God

Everyone, every body on this grain of sand in our infinite Universe is at the mercy of a microscopic mystery bug that kills tens of thousands and potentially millions of people.

Everyone on earth, from tradesmen to nurses to movie stars, can become infected. Death is on everyone’s mind. We need courage and a boundless spirit of togetherness and humanity to survive this.

People of a certain age who live alone are the most vulnerable. They face not only the virus but the despair and stress of being alone. They fear being stricken with no one to help them, or even know they are gravely ill. They could be lying on the floor of their house for days before someone might decide to check on them.

This is a desperately lonely dilemma for them. They need someone to look after them, or at least be aware of their existence and look in on them at times like this. But that may never happen. People have their own lives and deaths to worry about.

A man in his seventies recently lost his wife and over the years has lost his son and two brothers. He has no family left. He is one of those people who could collapse with no one in the house to call for help, or anyone, in fact, who might think to check in on him from time to time because he has no friends in his isolated world.

UNANSWERED PRAYERS

Then, not long ago, a friend of his deceased wife from thirty years ago contacted him with her condolences and they have kept in touch. She says she is a messenger from God. Her very name, Renata de Dios, means “Born again of God.” She came out of the past to help this man of little to no faith.

His wife, being raised Catholic was a believer, and when he held her hand in Intensive Care as she lay dying, that was a consolation to him. And throughout the past thirteen months since her death he has prayed, in his own faltering way, for a sign from her or from her God that she is “somewhere” now and not lost forever in an oblivion of emptiness. But he has never received the slightest sensation of any communion with her or felt even a hint of her presence in his lowly bungalow.

Renata de Dios persevered. During their many telephone conversation she has tried to direct him to the “road to God.” He doesn’t rebuff her or her faith but he doesn’t automatically embrace it. He tells her it’s not like a light switch you can suddenly turn on. You have to feel it in your heart. You have to believe it.

Once, a few weeks back, he actually set out on the road to God, only to lose his way and wander off into another wilderness of despair.

The guy seems like a hopeless case, but Renata de Dios keeps trying. What have you got to lose? she said. Give it another shot, I’m here for you, I’ll guide you.

Some things in life you can’t do alone. You need a guide. He dials Renata’s number. She answers right away. She’s there for him.


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