Friday, April 18, 2008

Moving a step forward while Friday Cat Blogging

It's been two years since my 19 year old cat, Jerzy, died. This was the photo I used for his 18th birthday party invitation.

He was the scrawniest kitten at the pet store (and had a crusty, puss-filled eye to boot), which is why I chose him. He grew into quite a fat cat who believed I was his mother; I think he was just so grateful that I brought him home with me. I got Oliver on the same day at a different pet store (I was 19 years old and didn't think to go to the SPCA) and they bonded immediately.
Oliver died at the age of 7, and I wondered how Jerzy would be afterwards. He lived another 12 years, all the more attached to me; he'd even sit on the edge of the sink waiting for me to come out of the shower.

Three days after he died on March 22, 2006, my mom had a massive stroke that would keep her in hospital for three months. Mourning the loss of my friend, Jerzy, was over pretty quickly, as my focus shifted to my mother. I love this picture of the two of them, when she was looking after him while we were on vacation; notice how his flesh squeezes out between her fingers!

This might appear to be a strangely blended post, but since my mom was such a cat and animal lover, I know she wouldn't mind sharing space with Friday Cat Blogging ☺ Please bear with me.

Although the past year has been better, I still get stuck in feelings of guilt and sadness over the loss of my mother - feeling like I should have and could have done more and that if only that was accomplished she would still be here. I still have moments of seeing her last months through her eyes, even though I cannot possibly understand or know what she was really thinking or feeling. But it still makes me wince.

Maria Shriver was on Oprah (yes, I admittedly still watch Oprah from time to time, depending who's on) the other day and this brings me to my "step forward." She was talking about what a big influence and the major role model her mother, Eunice Kennedy, has always been in her life, always pushing her to be active, pro-active, and ambitious and leading by example. Those are good things, but only focussing on this makes for a pretty frenetically-paced life where value and self-worth are found in what you do and accomplish rather than who you truly are as a person. Shriver recently found herself looking after her mom who had suffered several small strokes and she said she liked herself as this kind and caring, gentle person. She was being the mother now.

I know I kind of felt like I was mothering my mom while she was in hospital, and I was grateful for having that time with her; I considered it a gift. But after listening to Maria Shriver, I realized that just a slight shift in thought, in perception on my part, would reveal that it was not only the time spent with her that was a gift, but the opportunity for me to be kind and caring and motherly to her was the biggest gift; if I can allow myself to accept that I am a good-hearted, caring person, then that's something, since I'm constantly dumping on myself (don't we all do this?). I don't know how much sense that makes, but I know a bell went off in my head listening to this interview.

I had another major revelation about my relationship with my mom while watching this interview, but I think I'll save it for another time. I'm a little weepy now, so I think I'll go and clean myself up :)


High Desert Diva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
High Desert Diva said...

I love the photo of Jerzy on that blue fabric...just brilliant. And the one with your looks like he adores her.

Thanks for this post. I think your revelations will help me get through what has been a tough week, emotionally.

tatsuko said...

Thanks, Charmaine. Writing it down is tough since it makes it "real" and it's easier just to push it down or block it out (I'm a champion push-it-downer), but I feel like I'm moving forward - slowly but surely :)

Victoria said...

It is so hard to lose a parent. My father died 5 years ago. Going through the process of being with them, when they are vulnerable and sick, needing us in a way they never have before... bitter sweet. We do the best that we can, and I think guilt is just part of being a loving daughter. The first year is the hardest, but try to focus on the love, and the happy times, as it has a healing effect. Loving wishes to you.

Sarah McBride said...

what a beautiful and moving post.
thank you for sharing, I know it can be hard to talk about losing someone you love.
your cats were beautiful.

Rosebud Collection said...

The photos are all wonderful and the one with your mom is great..I took care of my mom and it was my turn to show my love to her for all the years of her love to me..I am so thankful for that time..It will always give you peace..

XUE said...

Tatsuko san, I felt the same when I read to the end. My mother rescued me when I was 4 days old. She didn't give birth to me but she's the only mother I have. We are traditional & she taught me many old ways, most of all filial piety, which I can see in you too. So each spring & autumn, I had to visit the bio-lady, as "she gave me life". It was tough but I do it as taught by my (adoptive) parents. I am always grateful to my mom & I can't bear to think of the day when she will be gone. She turns 70 on Golden Week & we will all reunite in our home country then.

Tatyana said...

nothing constructive to say, I just enjoyed reading that, about Jerzy and your mum :)

Hey Harriet said...

That was a really brave post. To be so open about your feelings & sharing them is a positive step I think. Try to focus on all the beautiful times you shared with your mother. & it's ok to have a good cry sometimes. xo