I Want a Cat

(Short story 4451 words)

“I want a cat.”

Lynne had persisted about getting a cat over the past few weeks, unlike many requests that flash by briefly and are quickly forgotten. I hoped this one would be one-time flash by because a cat would arrive with loads of baggage.

Lynne is my 54-year old daughter who lives in a compact one-bedroom apartment in assisted living. Over the year-and-a-half years she’s lived there, her random requests for a pet would fill a petting zoo such as hedgehog, parrot, dog, hamster and fish. Unexpectedly, a cat had recently arrived as a persistent request.

I get the requests because I’m her 78-year old dad in my first year as a widower loaded with full responsibility for her care. She focused her blue eyes atop puffy cheeks in a rosy oval face with a wide smile, draped in a bob cut of salt and pepper hair streaked with gold. Her steady gaze exudes strength from her firm shoulders squared back by workouts three times a week. I adore her because she’s cooperative from the beginning when she moved out of her home with three teenage sons, a cat, two dogs and a cat. She enjoys less stress and, incredibly, thrives in that facility mostly because she helps care of the other residents who are at least 20 years younger than other residents. Residents and staff lover her. She laughs a lot. She guides residents to bathrooms. She listens to them when they’re lonely. She calls for staff when residents need help. Staff treat as an equal and request her help with residents. She’s an inspiration to me. My main joy right now is to see her happy by fulfilling her wishes.

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