Sunday, 29 July 2007

The cat who knows

I found this rather lovely but also rather sad story about a cat who knows when people are going to die.

Oscar lives at a hospice for those in the end stages of dementia. It appears that if Oscar visits someone then they have but a few hours left. This may sound rather far-fetched but I believe it.

My Great-Uncle Doug and Great-Aunt Em had two fox terriers - Jane and her son, Joe. Both dogs would occasionally come into the bedroom but nothing more than that. Great-Uncle Doug had cancer and was in the end stages of that terrible disease. One morning, Jane came into the bedroom, jumped onto the bed and licked Uncle Doug on the face. She jumped off the bed and left the bedroom. Uncle Doug died later that morning. Jane had never jumped on the bed before and she never went into the bedroom again. I am absolutely certain that Jane was saying goodbye.

"Joe", as he was on a Horniman's Tea Card in 1961. He was a star!

Thinking about Doug, Em and the dogs brings back happy memories of my (otherwise unhappy) childhood. They lived in a small village (Woodcote near Reading) in an extremely old cottage. Built in the 17th century and all wooden beams and low ceilings. Uncle Doug grew roses, for which he won silver medals and they kept geese. Kids - do not chase geese, they will chase back and scare the devil out of you! I was back over the gate like a rocket, angry geese close behind!

I used to visit Aunt Em regularly. We would walk for miles in Deans Wood and Fox Covert Wood. The dogs would chase rabbits and Aunt Em and I would pick wild raspberries. I'd play on the rockery in the garden, climbing mountains or having battles with tiny plastic soldiers made by Airfix. Whilst life at home was extremely unpleasant (Dog poo is nicer than my step-father was), the time I spent at Behoes Cottage was wonderful. It was fun, it was idyllic, it was what childhood was all about. Yes, I know I'm digressing, but it was important to me.

On a sadder note, when I was 18, Aunt Em phoned late one evening. Joe was a very elderly dog by then and he had been put down that morning. Aunt Em had spent the day in tears and was distraught. Unfortunately, I had no means of getting there that late at night and so it was the following morning that I caught the bus/train/bus combination needed to get to Woodcote. It turned out that Aunt Em had called the vet to come to the house to put Joe down, which he had done. Having put him to sleep, the vet had left his body on the toilet floor! How insensitive can you get? No wonder Aunt Em had been in a state the day before. I buried Joe for her. We were both in floods of tears as we said goodbye to an old and dear friend. It was the end of an era. Not long after that Aunt Em had a series of debilitating strokes; her right side was paralysed and she lost the ability to talk. She moved into a home and died a few years later. A sad end for a wonderful lady who made this little boy happy.

Thank you Aunt Em, you were a ray of sunshine. I still miss you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that all cats know when someone is going to die and that they will leave the house until that time, some not returning. Vee