Posted in Friendship

My Dad, My Cat

written by Ginger Keller Gannaway

These days my dRAad reminds me of my cat. As he ages, he resembles more and more my cat J.T.  Both are very old. She is 16 or 17 (no one recalls exactly when we got her from a friend at work). My dad is 92. They move in slow, deliberate ways anJTd show little interest in the world at large. 

Both make annoying sounds. The cat meows incessantly. She starts crying at three a.m. and goes until five. Her vocalizations can be pleading and helpless or demanding and stressed. She starts with short, emphatic, “Meow. Meow. Meow.” If I don’t heed her call for food, she tries sick-sounding, “Meeereow, Meeereow!” and will mix the short cries with the drawn-out ones at uneven intervals. After seven or eight cries,  four minutes of silence might convince me that she’s given up. I smile and settle deeper into my pillow when, “Meertchkmrowww,” assaults me.

Dad’s sounds are more predictable. He moans any time he is conscious. It’s a low steady moan, almost a hum but void of any musicality. It has a pinch of pain in it and a rhythmic quality that is in sync with his breathing. Once my dad’s roommate’s wife told me, “Your dad sorta sounds like he’s purring.” (a weird coincidence of phrasing, for sure). But Dad’s moans have no satisfying feel, and he’s unaware he’s making any sound at all. After he assured me he was not hurting anywhere, I pleaded with him: “Please stop moaning, Dad.”

“What?” he asked.

“Moaning. You’re always moaning.”

He paused, stared at me, and said, “Am I off key?”

My cat, on the other hand, knows she’s meowing. She wants food. “She’s a cat,” explains my husband. “She just wants a taste.” Maybe so, but we can’t leave food out all the time because our dog will devour any morsel she walks away from, and in three minutes she meows for more. I refuse to cow-tow to her unreasonable, middle-of-the-night cravings! I sometimes get up, act like I’m going to the kitchen to shake out some Tender Vittles, and then fake her out and rush back to my room and shut the door on her. 

JT asleep

Perhaps my dad and cat moan and meow to let the world know they are still here. 

Thankfully, both Dad and the cat love to sleep. True to her feline nature, our J.T. sleeps at least seventeen hours a day. She curls up on the sofa arm, the window ledge that gets afternoon sun, or the blanket-covered bench at the foot of our bed for the best sleep.  Likewise, Dad is asleep way more than he’s awake. Every time I visit, I find him napping – mouth wide open and snoring instead of moaning. My, “Hey, Dad!” makes him sputter awake, force his eyes open, and give me a smile, so happy to have a visitor. He drinks some of the smoothie I bring him and soon dozes on and off for the rest of my visit. Even when we watched the champion LSU Tigers take care of ALL their opponents, he’d nod off until our “Geaux, Tigers!” yells roused him. He is as much an LSU fan as he’s a fan of  saying, “Any time is nap time.”

Both J.T. and Dad are picky eaters. Our pet now only wants soft food and gets sick if she eats too quickly. Dad is at the soup, yogurt, and ice cream time of his life with pudding and milkshakes as snacks. Both look skinny and act tired.

The two do share a calm air of acceptance. Their wants are few: a comfortable place to rest, small bits of food and drink, and regular signs of love/attention. Maybe Daddy’s moaning really is his version of purring. He prefers to close his eyes, hold a loved one’s hand, and listen to the conversations from his visitors that make him nod and smile. Satisfied and comfortable, he moans (purrs) and reminds me that he (and cats) understands the joy of serene relaxation.

NOTE:  A year after my mom died, my dad moved in with my husband and me in Texas. Two years later after a couple of falls, he switched to assisted living. Now he’s bed-ridden and in a skilled nursing facility. I visit him several times a week, and I love him way more than my cat.

happy papa

Posted in Friendship

Night Night

Night Night

I lay there willing myself not to look, but my eyes peek open and I can tell by the darkness that it is not time to get up.  I try to play games with myself; guess the time, flip this way and that, contemplate reading and finally, I beg…’please let me go back to sleep’.  Exasperated, I cannot stop myself; with one eye I glance at the clock…4:30 a.m.   4:30 a.m.  4:30 a.m. !!      

This is the 10th or millionth day in a row that I have woken up at 4:30 a.m.  I’ve tried going to bed later, earlier, drinking Sleepytime tea, hot showers and reading.  I’ve even tried laying with my butt against the wall and my legs up.  I read about it in Prevention Magazine, so I KNEW it was good advice.  Supposedly lying with your legs up in the air helps the blood flow to your heart and makes you more relaxed so you will sleep soundly through the night.

Trying to get myself close enough to the wall and then throwing my legs up was a little stressful in itself!  Then, I laid there, arms stretched out, meditating on sleep.  9:00 p.m.  Boo walked into the bedroom and the questions began:

“What are you doing now?”

 I gave a short answer:  “ I’m meditating.”

“On what?”

“I’m meditating so I can sleep through the night.”

“With your legs up?”

“Yes”

“Wow!  I’m impressed…I didn’t know you were so flexible!” (wink-wink,  hubba- hubba!) “Are you saying OMMMMM?” (chuckle chuckle)

“I just need a little quiet,”  I sigh and shut my eyes tighter.

“OK, I’ll be out in a jiffy.”   Then I hear the water running, toothbrush hitting the side of the sink and a big ol’ spit.  One cabinet door shut, a pillow fluffed and the door closed.

Inside I was saying “grrr grrrr”, which I’m pretty sure is not the same as “OMMMMMMM”.

After the epic fail of legs in the air, I tried googling what it means if you consistently wake up at 4:30 a.m.  Why do I do things like that?  Is Google my answer to everything?   I’ve read all of the literature:

     5 Things You Must Do For A Goodnight’s Sleep;

     3 Ways to Transform Your Bedroom Into A Sleep Sanctuary;  

     How to Bore Yourself Sleepy;

     Drink Cherry Juice and Sleep Like a Baby and  

     Getting Your ZZZZ’s With Chamomile Tea.

There’s also the advice:  wear socks; hide your clock; progressive relaxation and make your room colder.  But, there was one article that said if you are consistently waking up between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. every day, perhaps ‘The Universe’ is trying to give you a message.  Hmmmmmmmmm.

Maybe instead of dreading the 4:30 a.m. wake up call, I should welcome it.  Instead of trying to keep my eyes shut, I should open them to possibilities.

I do know that worry and constant rumination over situations is not the answer.  Worry never has solved a problem for me.  So, ‘Universe’?  If you are trying to tell me something, may I respectfully request a later wake up?  Say, 6:00 a.m.?  I know I would be more receptive to whatever the message might be.  I promise to listen carefully and follow your guidance.  I promise not to pull anymore stunts like legs up the wall or singing show tunes in the middle of the night.  I Promise!

So, let’s try it again, shall we?   Night night….sweet dreams….see you in the morning!  Tomorrow is another day.

“Sleepy soul solidly seeking sound slumber”