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.
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.
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.