Sunday, February 3, 2008
Babe Was No babe
My middle daughter, Sandee, is the epitomy of the cat lover. For as long as I can recall, she has been surrounded by herds of them, currently about five. Being a single woman, her cats are her family, the children she has never born (yet). They are the rulers of the roost at her house and they know it.
In the eighties, she had a particular favorite she called Babe. Trying here not to be too judgemental, I can't help but say that Babe was one of the homeliest females of any species ever born upon this Earth. Babe was no Babe. However, she did have many redeeming qualites. She was sweet, quiet, very lovable, didn't scratch the furniture, and was not demanding, as some cats can be. Now, I don't want any lectures, but she was also not spayed. Sandee had been her Mom for many years when she (Sandee) decided to move back home with me for a while. Babe was getting old, probably in her early eighties (in cat years) by then. She started getting very thin, her fur became less than luxurious, her teeth started to fall out, and, I'm sure, she was arthritic. She allowed me to pet her on very rare occasions, but mostly she was a Momma's girl who loved Sandee unconditionally.
Over the years, Babe had presented the world with more than a few kittens. Some were kept by Sandee, adding to her "Family", while the others were always sent to some cat lover's home elsewhere. At the time Sandee moved home with me, Babe was her only cat (for the moment)and it had been several years since she had given birth to any kittens. (Thank goodness) I watched Babe's slow decline, knowing that Sandee's heart would be broken when she finally passed from this world but also knowing it was inevitable.
One day, while I was home on a day off from work, watching some TV program, Babe came over to me and started purring and rubbing my leg, very affectionately. This was very unusual for her, taking me by complete surprise. I could tell she wanted me to pick her up, so I did. As I was lifting her, I felt a large lump on her side, which startled me. "Oh, no!", I thought. "She has a tumor!" I held her for a long time, petting her gently, thinking maybe her unusual show of affection was her way of saying goodbye. Feeling that her time was up, and as badly as I hated having to do it, I decided I would call the Vet to make an appointement to have her euthenized. I could see no reason to make her suffer through cancer, poor old thing.
She finally jumped down and headed for her favorite spot on Sandee's bed in the upstairs bedroom. I made the call and was dreading having to break the sad news to Sandee when she got home from work.
Later, before Sandee did arrive home, I went upstairs to see how Babe was doing. I couldn't find her. I was searching everywhere, to no avail, thinking, "She's a cat, and sometimes they go off by themselves to die", when I heard a faint "meow" coming from the dark corner of my closet. I grabbed a flashlight to help me find her..... and find her, I did. There she was, this poor old lady, curled up in her self-made nest, looking up at me with with eyes way too bright for someone so sick and preparing to die.
As I looked closer, I suddenly realized..........the "tumor" had fur, and eyes, and paws, for God's sake. And, it was breathing and suckling on it's new Mom! My relief was overcome by laughter. The old Babe was close to ninty and had just gave birth to a kitten? (there was only one) UNBELIEVABLE!! Hell, she was so old and homely, I couldn't imagine, even a Tom cat, touching her with a ten-foot pole.
Later, when Sandee arrived home, I gently told her about the tumor I'd found on Babe. I then told her that she had made a nest in my closet, where she was now curled up, resting. Sandee quickly ran up the steps, with me following, to see her beloved Babe. I hadn't told her "the rest of the story"..... she needed to experience that for herself. The tears of joy and delight on Sandee's face were well worth that little deception.
Babe was a wonderful mother to that little "tumor" (yes, we kept it) and went on to live for several more years. Babe really was a joy to know....................and taught me, once again, ......don't judge a book by it's cover!