By Saralee Perel
It seems as if God made a plan: The only creatures that will share their lives with my husband, Bob, will be very needy ones. This includes 4 cats, 2 dogs, 1 pet duck, 1 mouse and Grandpa.
Grandpa, our plain old catfish, is a perfect example of why I’ve been married to Bob for 30 years. We had a blight in our 29 gallon aquarium a decade ago. All the fish died except Grandpa. Bob cried, as he took his brood outside and buried them.
So 20-year-old Grandpa, who’s 1 inch long, has the whole tank to himself. He needs high maintenance. His water needs constant changing and daily testing for impurities and lots of other care.
Since I, too, have needed high maintenance for several years. I’ve wanted to lighten Bob’s load. “Sweets,” I said, “I can find a good home for Grandpa.”
“He already has a home.”
Grant, our 19 year old pet duck, needs a lot of help. In winter, Bob keeps her warm with a heat lamp inside her coop. When the electricity goes out, the lamp won’t work, so Grant spends her day in our bathtub. She’s very arthritic. Everyday, Bob grinds calcium and aspirin into her food, and stays outside to make sure she eats it.
“Sweets, I can find a good home for Grant.”
“She already has a home.”
This season, mice come in our house for warmth. With a Hav-A-Hart mouse trap that captures them alive, Bob gets a mouse a day. Each morning I hear, “Time to take the mouse out back.” I haven’t suggested that it’s probably the same mouse, who’s unquestionably getting an enormous kick out of all this. I bet that after Bob frees him, that mouse does a quick spin and comes right back in, laughing.
Our old cat Josie, had a prognosis of 2 years, maximum, to live with treatment. On frigid winter days, Bob made the 2 hour drives to a specialist vet at Tufts, a large animal hospital in Massachusetts. This past November, she’s outlived all expectations and is happily jumping around like a kitten – now over 3 years since her dire prognosis.
When Bob took her to our superb local vet, he was so joyous upon seeing her – with all her fur grown back and her nutty personality so fully re-blossomed, that he rushed out of the exam room with Josie in his arms, needing to show her off to everyone. Even the vet at Tufts was shocked, “That cat’s still alive?”
I believe Josie’s wellbeing is not just from treatment, but equally from Bob’s love.
And then…there’s me.
Five years ago, I became disabled, leaving Bob as my full-time caregiver and keeper of the house.
Each morning, when he wakes me, he is smiling throughout the routine. After putting slippers on my cold feet, he makes the room cheerful – opens the blinds, sticks a cat in my arms, calls one of the dogs to jump on the bed, puts coffee on my computer table – helps me (and whichever cat) into my chair – oh, and of course I get long loving sloppy kisses – from the dog, and then from Bob.
So – all of Bob’s needy creatures, great and small, live in heaven on earth. But in reality, Bob thinks he’s the one who has it better. No matter the time or place; how busy he is; how far from home he may be, he feels blessed to come rescue one of us – even if my, “Please come home,” call for rescue is just to have him hold a very frightened trembling hand . . . or a paw.
I think God made a good plan.
Award-winning columnist/novelist Saralee Perel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website http://www.saraleeperel.com
She will have two stories you might enjoy, in February’s book release of “Chicken Soup for The Soul: Love Stories.” And her novel, “Raw Nerves,” is available at Amazon: Raw Nerves: A Cape Cod Comedic Thriller
Copyright 2007 Saralee Perel. Used with permission