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The Resident Cat

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The Resident Cat

Anyone entering Willow Haven Nursing Home had to pass through two glass framed doors built far enough apart to ensure a person couldn't hold both doors open at the same time. This design had a purpose. When a visitor entered, a feeble resident might slip through the first inside door, but getting through the second outside door, without being discovered by the staff, made escape unlikely. The architect’s design worked well and saved an untold number of frail old people from wandering outside and into trouble.
Myrtle, a longtime resident, sat across from those double doors everyday. With too much rouge on winkled cheeks and white hair neatly curled, she greeted all who came or went through those well crafted doors. The greeting consisted of a smile and a slow up and down wave of a hand. A hand misshapen by time and adorned with silver rings of multicolored stones on every finger. With great pride she remembered all the names of those who came and went, but then, everyone on staff knew Myrtle was one of the "aware" residents.
Only one person knew when the cat first wandered through the front doors on the heels of a visitor, and settled into one of the overstuffed chairs in the lounge area. That person was Myrtle. A housekeeper discovered the cat within an hour, the first day, and escorted the homeless creature outside. The next day she made the same discovery and again moved the cat through the glass doors. When it happened the third day, she reported this breach of security to the head nurse.
The nurse became suspicious, and asked Myrtle if she knew how the cat kept getting through the doors with such ease. Myrtle, of course, had no idea, but volunteered to watch for the cat if it happened ag...

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...d easy to dismiss as an old woman bent with age who dribbles her food, lost her glasses, and fell in the bathroom often. A women who's life achievements exist only in her memory. A memory that holds the freshness of youth, the excitement of first love, the joy of marriage, motherhood, and the loss of a husband. Recollections of fading beauty, shrinking independence, and the passing of health linger in her thoughts, like broken pottery with missing pieces. She remained dimly conscious that an old person is no longer needed and mostly tolerated as an obligation of society.
True, the years erode the body of strength and take away all those people and events that have comprised the fabric of a lifetime. But if the mind remains aware, then age cannot take away the capacity to love that which loves you - be it a child, a spouse or a cat named Willie.

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