I don’t envy the plight of our area newscasters today. With the “snowpocalypse” behind us, it’s all too easy for even the most forgiving and diplomatic among us to raise and eyebrow and say, “really? All the hype…?!” Like many, I was relieved this morning to see some other news begin to creep into the forecast, and was eager to see what would be considered important enough to make it through the narrow window for non-weather related news. Settled into my comfy couch with my hot cup of tea, I was especially interested when the teaser line was about a cat. Being an animal lover, I suffered through the commercials to experience the benefit of the full story. The headline ran something like this: “Cat struck by car and buried as dead shows up on neighbor’s doorstep days later.” The accompanying video was even more compelling – the cat, clearly alive and well, was licking its front legs which had turned from white to brown in the process of digging itself out of its eternal grave. Wow! You just can’t make that up! (You don’t have to take my word for it: http://www.wbtw.com/story/27955594/tampa-cat-mistaken-for-dead-digs-himself-out-of-grave
For many, the whimsical-yet-creepy news item would be welcome relief from the incessant reporting about the snow that storm that never happened (at least in our area – it’s clear the other areas were hard hit and are no doubt still digging themselves out of quite a few messes). But for me, the story brought back a flood of terrible memories from one of my lowest parenting moments. Try as I may, nearly 15 years later, the memory is one that I just cannot seem to shirk. Every story about a cat cashing in on ones of its nine lives brings it all rushing back, in horrible detail.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and each of my boys – then probably aged 5 and 7 – had soccer games. Stone was playing in the first of three game time-slots, and Eli playing in the last. This left a whole HOUR in the middle, providing time for my husband and me to muscle in a few chores - dropping the car off for a routine oil change, a quick trip to the corner market for some basic food supplies, making lunch for the boys, and pushing one of many loads of laundry through from the washer to the dryer. It was while I was on this last task that I hit a new kind of bottom – harder felt, I’m sure, because I was feeling like Super Mom – on top of the world – managing all of the soccer safety gear and uniforms, cheering at the sidelines, managing a healthy lunch, intervening “just enough” as the boys started to bicker while Jack was dropping off the car, and now even laundry. Huh! Who says women can’t do it all?
After setting the dryer to tumble for a few minutes to get the wrinkles out (Super Mom can’t send her children to school in wrinkled clothing), I reached in, and what I felt sent a shiver through the depths of my being that I had never experienced before. Fighting the urge to run for the hills, I mustered the involuntary Mother Bear courage needed to reach my hand back in to the horror and “Oh, NO, it can’t be, but it’s true…!” – Eng, our beloved Siamese cat, was at the bottom of the dryer with the remaining wrinkle-free clothes. My touch jarred him from his stupor, and out he jumped, crooked and scared, his fur going in every direction as a result of the static electricity from the clothes and the dryer. I had done the unthinkable. I had dried our family’s pet cat!
As I was coming to terms with the reality of what I had done, the boys, at this point, noticed the cat and, in their innocence, started pointing and laughing. “Look at Eng – he’s walking funny and he looks strange!” With that, Eng disappeared into the basement where he could, so I thought, find a quiet place to curl up and die as a result of the injuries he suffered at my hand. “Don’t laugh” I admonished the boys (Super Mom, be gone!). “I think I killed him!”
I don’t have a clear recollection of what happened after that, but my husband does. After dropping off the car, and running home for a quick bite before heading out to Soccer Game #2, Jack said the boys came running down the street saying, “Dad, Dad – come quick – Mom killed Eng!” The poor guy. I’m sure he was more than a little nervous about what he was going to find when he entered the house.
Thankfully, everything turned out just fine in the end. Jack and I split our afternoon parenting duties – he took Eng to the vet and I took the boys the soccer game, where I undoubtedly had a crazed look on my face and probably frightened a few people by confessing to them, “I just dried my cat!” Jack learned from the vet that “death by dryer” is one of the leading household accidents for domestic cats. Eng fully recovered and within weeks was trying to crawl back into the dryer for a cozy nap. I’m happy to say he lived a full and happy life, and just left us this past year. He will forever serve as a reminder to me that there is so much about life that is out of control, and that we never can tell what’s in store for us at any moment.
The news story of the cat who cashed in his 10th life today came just at the right time today – right when I was falling into the trap of judging the weather forecasters for their poor performance in predicting the snow storm. Ah, don’t we all miss the mark sometimes?