aging, cats, friendship, Uncategorized

Zoe and Sweetie Beattie: Friendship


Zoe, Sweetie Beattie’s BFF. Photo by Norine Dresser. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2020.












Sweetie Beattie chilling in a flower pot. Photo by Norine Dresser. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2020.

Last Summer, an adorable young black cat showed up in my backyard. From her ID we learned her name was Zoe, and we alerted her nearby family who quickly rescued her.

For six months, Zoe visited our yard daily, to drink fresh water and to play with my house-bound cat, Sweetie Beattie. Zoe’s visits became the highlight of Sweetie Beattie’s day. They’d paw at each other, one on each side of the sliding glass door, and were adorable to watch. Sometimes, Zoe even brought gifts for Beattie.

This half-mouse is one of many treasures Zoe brought Sweetie Beattie. Photo by Norine Dresser. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2020.

I found their relationship endearing. And I loved that Beattie had a friend. Then one day Zoe disappeared. Sweetie Beattie anxiously waited for her and every day after that. She acted depressed. I feared Zoe was a goner because we have many cat predators around here: hawks, owls, coyotes, cars.

After an absence of months, Zoe returned the other day. Sweetie Beattie was all excited once again, but this time Zoe ignored her. She was on to more satisfying activities like looking for prey. Then she left again. Will she ever come back?

The friendship between Zoe and Sweetie Beattie resembles  human friendships. Sometimes we spend a lot of time with a certain person, and then the friendship cools and we go our separate ways.

In November, 2019, I visited Los Angeles where I reunited with a group of friends for lunch.  Some were colleagues from CSULA; others were women I knew from an arthritis swimming class called, “Twinges in the Hinges.” The others were individuals I encountered in a wide variety of circumstances: a co-author; a former folklore student; a former guitar student, and a writer with whom our friendship evolved over, of all things, an L.A. Times obituary.


My wonderful friends from over the decades at Shiraz Persian Restaurant in Glendale, California, November 2019. Photo by Ann Bradley. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2020.

Unfortunately, one of my oldest and closest friends, couldn’t make it because  she was in a hospital psychiatric lock-up. Recently, she had escaped from an Assisted Living facility where she was being treated for dementia. While wandering down a busy street, police officers tried to rescue her and she fought them off. Consequently, she was placed in a lock up. What a sad situation for this gifted woman who had such played a significant role in my life.

We met as neighbors when she was 14 and I was 12. She introduced me to horses and Asian art and music, and we had many fun-filled hours shared at school vacation times. As adults we remained lifelong friends and socialized with one another up until I left Los Angeles in 2012.

When I arrived in her small sterile-looking hospital room, she was asleep, so I awakened her.  Her voice was low-pitched and difficult to understand. Desperate to connect with her, I brought up old memories of good times we had shared. Then I remembered a song parody we had written together to serenade a friend who had been injured in an auto accident. About fifty years ago, she and I and our husbands, stood outside our wounded friend’s window singing as cars with curious drivers whizzed by.

I began singing this same song in her hospital room, and to my amazement, she joined in.

(To the tune of Simple Gifts)

Here’s to Jerry Hundal and here’s to his wife.

Here’s to Jerry Hundal and God who saved his life.

And if we find ourselves in a similar plight

Will you sing to us in the middle of the night?

When true mobility is gained.

To bow and to bend we will not be in pain.

To turn, to turn will be our delight.

Till by turning, turning we come out right.

Despite the dreariness of the setting, when her voice joined mine, I felt uplifted. We  re-lived a joyful moment and laughed together. Given our ages and that we are geographically apart, I may never see her again. And if I never do, I will carry this poignant memory of my cherished friend with me forever.










14 thoughts on “Zoe and Sweetie Beattie: Friendship”

  1. Dear Norine, such a beautiful story. They say that singing is one of the main ways of getting to alzheimer patients. Remember the study that was done where all the patients were given little recorders with ” oldies” songs and how so many of them came out of their shells?
    By the way, how come I’m not in the group picture. Or am I hiding under the table? Marie

  2. Sweetie Beattie’s expression as she sits in the planter is wistful and most touching. In
    one of her 9 lives, she had to have been human. Thank you for sharing! Love you. Sandy

    1. SB is such a treasure. If not for this mere 7 1/2 bundle of fur living with me, I’m sure I would feel lonely. Just looking at how beautiful she is, makes me smile. And we have great (one-sided) conversations.

  3. Oh lovely Norine, no wonder your friends are so devoted to you. You never fail to entertain us and make us think and feel. You know how friends sometimes wear separate halves of a heart on a chain? Maybe Zoe’s expecting Sweetie Beattie to give her the front half of that mouse. Take good care of yourself and come back with a new blog post when you are able. Your two- and four-legged pals will be waiting.

  4. Lovely, Norine–
    Just beautiful and tender.

    It is interesting. A friend’s father is in his final stages of dementia, and seldom awakens. But for some reason, it turns out he is a fan of Johnny Cash. No one knew! He was an English professor at LeMoyne who taught Melville and Thoreau! I gave him the Ken Burns Country Music documentary on DVD. When my friend visits, he wakes up — and he sings along with everything. He quotes Willie Nelson with glee. — especially the lyrics with illicit references.
    For those precious times, he is the man.

  5. That is so lovely, Norine. I remember you telling our uke group about your friend with dementia and the song that reached her somehow. I hope and believe our friendship will last longer than Zoe and Sweetie Beatie’s! Joy

  6. Norine, I love the kitty story, but was so very touched by your visit to your long-time friend. So happy that you had the chance to share what may be the last wonderful memory with her. xoPJ

    1. Thank you, PJ. That moment with her will be one I remember until the end of my life. Friendship is such a powerful emotion, isn’t it? I certainly value my years knowing you. You have been very kind and generous to me. I only have to glance up to my special calendar to be reminded of you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s