Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13: Emma's World

My almost 17-year-old cat Emma, while still going strong in many ways, has serious arthritis in her hindquarters which hampers her movements and makes her walk with a sort of sideways-slipping sway. Because she spends a lot of time lying around with her hind legs sprawled uselessly behind her, the other day my mother jokingly called her "Christina's World" after the famous Andrew Wyeth painting.

So Emma's activities today were cause for pleasure. While she's an indoor cat on principle, now that she's old and slow (though not as slow as you'd think), I sometimes let her hang out in the back yard with me for short, supervised outings. On this beautiful Indian summer afternoon, I set up a tv tray and chair so I could sit in the sun on the back porch and read over the proofs of my husband's second novel. Emma came out with me and explored the leafy back yard under my watchful eye. She tromped around in the leaves for quite a while, sniffing everything, undaunted by her awkward gait. She was more active than I've seen her in a long time. She even chased a twig I dragged past her.
Later, after some lunch inside, we went back out to the porch to take full advantage of this weather. She curled up tightly on my lap and napped while I read the latest New Yorker and drank a hot mug of chai latte. The river, dark and riffled, rushed past. Piles of leaves skittered and shifted. Chickadees flitted by on their way to the bird feeder. At one point Emma awoke and watched with interest as a neighbor's cat blithely walked through the yard and right past us, then she curled back up under my arm for more sleep. I held her in a close embrace, feeling keenly in those moments the brevity of the time we have left together. 

Emma and I have been together since before I met my husband. Childless, I have doted on this strange and often ornery little creature for 16 years. So I was especially grateful for us to be able to share these few hours together, with both of us simply enjoying the moment and each other's company, recharged by the late autumn sunlight.

Old cat, piles of leaves,
last warm days of November--
we share the sunlight.

PS: As I wrote this entry at my desk, Emma came over and indicated she wanted to get into my lap. After I boosted her up, I thought she'd curl up and sleep as usual, but instead she sat upright on my knees, alertly watching the screen the whole time I was typing. I told her I was writing about her, and I like to fool myself into thinking she understood.

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