Edith and “The Girls”

Sun Coast Retirement Center was up to speed when it came to the therapeutic value of anything for seniors. Therefore, they were embracing an experimental try out time for residents to have pets who were not too frisky, loud, or destructive.

Edith decided she’d get in the swing of things and tell her niece, Julie, that she would cat sit while Julie and her family got away for awhile.

Luckily, Julie had cats and Edith was sure that she could manage them inside her apartment. Cats need such little care. No walks. No leashes. No grooming. Easy.

The day before Julie left, she came with all the equipment that the cats— Sable and Jenga—needed. First, there was the food. It looked like rabbit pellets but at least it wasn’t that messy canned stuff. Both the food and water was dispensed from an automatic feeder. And there were scratching pads infused with cat nip. Easy.

Then there was the litter box. Edith decided that she didn’t want that in her bathroom so she cleared out a corner of the coat closet and left the door ajar. Fill up the sucker and let it go. Easy.

Julie was starting to get a little teary about leaving “the girls” for such a long time, but Edith assured her that nothing could go wrong. Truly. The cats would be well cared for. Really.

Julie's cats Sable and Jenga

Sable and Jenga

As soon as the door closed, the cats started sniffing around and rubbing their heads against the sofa, dinette table and all the chairs. Once they were done at ground level, they jumped up on the cushions.

“Get down!” Edith commanded in her sternest voice. Jenga looked at her with contempt and continued to sniff around.

Edith got up and moved her off the sofa.

Jenga jumped right back up and started the ritual again. After several repetitions, Edith gave up. She decided to cover her upholstered furniture with sheets.

So far the girls had not tried to be friendly. They did walk across the back of Edith’s chair, then they disappeared. Edith found them basking in the sun in the bedroom window. One of her African violets was tipped over. Time to move them into Mabel’s apartment.

When it was bedtime, Edith got undressed and noticed the cats following her while she brushed her teeth and took her nightly pills. Both Sable and Jenga looked with disdain on this ritual as if they pitied humans that had to adhere to such a routine.

What do you know about being an old lady? I’d look sleek and shiny too if I had someone looking after me like you do.

Edith went into her bedroom, shut the door, got in bed and turned off the light. She barely her head on the pillow when “meow” and more “meow” then some rubbing, then some scratching as heard.

Edith got up and opened the door to see both cats pathetically demanding to be let in.

Julie, you owe me big time for this one

The cats curled up at the foot of the bed and started to “nest. ” Oh yes, Edith remembered this from 30 years ago when the family pet, Little Bit, would want a place on a lap. Circle, pull, circle, pull and finally plop. A cat has to be sure that there are no snakes down there.

Everyone finally slept and all was fine. Edith was thinking this was not too bad.

Then somewhere in the night, one of the cats decided to take a tour of the bed. She wanted to sleep on top of Edith. Clearly this was not going to work. Edith rolled over and the cat resigned to moving to the side.

In the morning, Edith was slightly fatigued and decided she must be patient. This was not a strong suit for Edith as you Edith friends already know.

If Julie can do it, so can I.

Edith had a busy day planned with her exercise class, lunch, and bridge club. So she checked the food and water bowls then bid goodbye to her new friends, and closed her apartment door for the day.

Her mind was busy with gossip, conversation, and eating. She didn’t give the cats a thought.

At 3:30 she returned to freshen up for dinner.

And there it was. Her little rugs in the kitchen were bunched up against the wall. There was cat litter scattered in the hall outside the closet. Edith’s water bottle in the bathroom was tipped over and water was on the counter and floor. And, yes, it looked like one of the cats had taken a dip in the toilet.

But the cats? They were asleep on her bed with nary a guilty thought in their little pea brains. It must be nice to be a cat.

Well, what could Edith do but clean up the mess. Live and learn.

It was Friday. This is the evening when Dick Forsythe “came to call.” He always brought a bottle of wine and they would watch a movie together. Dick had been warned about the visiting cats but he proudly proclaimed that he was a pet person.

“Come on in, Dick. Meet the girls.”

“Well, hello, ladies. Come on over.” The cats eyed Dick suspiciously and did their own thing. Once Dick was settled on the sofa beside Edith, they decided to make a place on his lap.

Pretty soon, both Edith and Dick had matching pets and were reaping their attention. As Dick tickled Sable’s chin, he patted Edith’s arm. This was good stuff.

At about 10:30, the movie was wrapping up but the girls were winding up. They decided it was time for a big race around the apartment. They looped big circles through the kitchen, around the corner into the living room, and down the hallway skidding on the wooden floors. They’d slide to a stop, and start the circuit over again. They obviously were experiencing a cat nip high.

Pretty soon, Dick and Edith were taking bets on who was the “alpha” female. It seemed to be Jenga, but Sable was pretty good at that “stand off” glare. Those green eyes staring out from that dark brown/black fur was mighty intimidating.

Dick and Edith had a comfortable relationship by now. They enjoyed physical closeness and the monogamous relationship they remembered from being married. Just sitting on the sofa kissing and caressing was a pleasure for both of them.

As Edith was snuggling into Dick’s arms and closing her eyes in satisfaction, there was a sudden pounce. It shocked her and Dick was positively on the verge of a stroke! Jenga had taken a diving leap  and landed squarely on Dick’s chest with claws extended. Dick leaped up screaming and Jenga went flying through the air, landing on the coffee table.

“My God! I’ve never seen a clearer message sent by any animal! Jenga certainly is jealous of me and wants your attention completely!”

“I don’t know why. We barely know each other. She can’t have bonded with me that soon”

Dick was making his way to the door. The whole incident reminded him of a time in college where a friend’s Siamese cat raked both sides of his face when a sudden move startled the cat.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Dick opened the door and walked down the hall without looking back.

Edith was really peeved now. She thought she wouldn’t see Dick again until these darned cats were gone. What would happen if there was an “accident?”  What if the cats just got outside and started chasing a bird? Cats can be replaced.

Edith opened the apartment door and waited for the cats to appear. Cautiously, both Sable and Jenga inched toward her. Curiosity really can kill a cat for both of them wanted to know what was outside the door.

Then Edith walked confidently toward the exit. The cats stayed a safe distance behind her.  She opened the steel door a wedge. Those cat eyes glanced at her, then the door, then at her.

Edith held the door open and stepped outside.

The cats stayed put.  She waited. They waited. Nothing happened.

Finally, Edith came back inside. Battle lost, but the war was still on.  She came back into her apartment and sat down. What should I do?

And then a strange thing happened.  As Edith pondered her dilemma, both cats came up to her. Jenga sat on the sofa above her head and Sable came onto her lap. While Jenga was nudging her head against Edith’s hair, Sable was purring and asking to be stroked.

Edith’s unyielding heart melted. While Dick huffed off in a little temper tantrum, these two remained faithful and unconditionally loyal.

What more could a person want?


6 responses to “Edith and “The Girls””

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  1. Carolyn says:

    Karen, I loved it! So much fun and so real. Pets are what the elderly, who are confined to nursing homes, miss most, next to their own spouses and childen. In fact, there is barely a woman who doesn’t have pictures of beloved dogs or cats, or calanders filled with squirrles and bunnies adorning her little corner of the world. So Edith testifies to real life.

  2. Kay from Santa Fe says:

    If Edith thinks those kitties will be “loyal” and “faithful” she’s failed the reality check. Just wait till Julie returns!

    Loved the “circle and plop” routine.

  3. Judy says:

    When I saw the title, my mind went in a different direction, for at Jane’s retirement home, “the Girls” are the boobies of female residents. But I soon settled in to the story and loved it. So reminding me of Wellington! Especially the middle of the night calisthentics! And at the end, the endearing kitty hugs. Why would anyone want dogs?!