We both know that having a pet at our age is wise for they provide a companionship that can be difficult to find. I’ve had both dogs and cats, but the decision this time was reasonably simple, for dogs have an insatiable need to walk their people, weather is no impediment and my arthritis is no longer all that forgiving of damp and cold.
So we settled on a cat, and we have been pleased with our decision – she is joyous, playful and reads our emotional needs, but most importantly, other than not needing to walk us, she has been remarkably adept at training us to live in her new home.
Today I paused and had a conversation with my mind, and found it remarkably enlightening. It wasn’t a terribly long talk for I quickly ran out of things to say and I would have sworn it had heard them all before and anticipated me fully. In the end though, I did have one advantage and simply got up and walked away and that caught it wholly by surprise.
She sat us down this morning for a heart to heart conversation. We had mentioned the neighbors’ new dog, their second, this one little smaller than a pony. She smiled at us, but we could tell it was a false smile, something was hiding about to be set free. “That is the problem with dogs,” she said, “they come in all sizes and temperaments. You never know what to expect, except that in any weather, but mostly the kind you hate, you have to walk them, or they walk you. And loud, they all seem to come without volume controls. So be thankful you have me. Now excuse me, my litter pan beckons.”
The path meandered more than he remembered but he was the first to admit his memory was never his strongest suit. It didn’t help that he had consumed two margaritas at lunch, and even he didn’t believe the excuse that this was a slow day for him, still sober at two in the afternoon. But he wandered the path, for that is what paths were there for he was certain. He had no idea where he was going, and realized that he would have no idea when he got there. Still he had great faith in mathematics, that was his training, his brilliance,such as it was, and he knew that if he merely wandered aimlessly without thinking, he would eventually cross his own path, bump into his former self and they, together, could devise a plan to find their way precisely they were intended to be.
It should be more of a surprise, on this day that you turn ninety but the mirror, as you see it, has you looking as you did twenty two years earlier, and twenty before that, unchanging in any meaningful way, yet those around you laugh when you tell them what you believe.
Not a day over sixty-eight you say, and time to go off and write for an hour, then the three mile walk, a shower, some physical therapy for . . . well one of the joints which has osteoarthritis, and a salad, heavy on the greens for lunch.
Nothing much has changed in your mind, and when you awaken from the dream, see your sixty-eight year old face in the mirror, you only wish you could see the younger face that only dreams allow, but time outside of dreams is always, unfortunately, unforgiving.
He walks with what he considers a swagger. He will gladly stare you in the eye, and you will look away. He prides himself on constancy, knowing you will arrive each day, knowing you will bring nothing in response to his request. He’ll turn his back on you and ignore you once again. Then he will waddle back to the pond, quacking his farewell.
As the last of the wine glasses is put back on the shelf the Brut recorked and the dishes set in the tray to dry we take a slow walk after the meal hoping the arrabiatta sauce will be less angry, the pasta less weighty, when we arrive back home to the sofa and the purring cat distracting us from the beckoning of the bed.