What I learned from The Golden Girls, Cats, and Toads

ImageYesterday my 17-year-old cat, Juliette, scurried into the bushes and didn’t come back out. All day today, her son, 15-year-old Ajeet, slept dejectedly in a chair on the porch. When I arrived home late at night with cat food, I opened the door and called him. He came to the door, then paused, and looked back for Juliette (who always follows him in). When she didn’t make an appearance, he refused to come into the house. He went back and curled up on the chair. For all the years they have been together, the two have always sat together, moving their heads in synchronized fashion, Now, the friendship has been cut in half and it is a sad sight to see.

ImageI was reminded of the toads I had when I was a teenager. I had found one big American toad and two small Fowler toads in the park and brought them home to add to my menagerie. The three lived together in a tank and then one of the Fowler toads died. It was then that a very strong bond was formed between two very different toads, the big American toad and the little Fowler toad. The two took to sitting together, the little toad between the feet of the big toad and their throats would expand and contract in unison. When I went to feed the toads, the big toad would not eat until the little toad has his fill.

Then, one day, the remaining little toad died and the big toad never ate again. I took him out to the woods and let him go because I knew he would starve to death if I kept him. Of course, I never knew how he fared once I released him back into the wild, but I could only hope that he made a new friend that would want to make him live again.

ImageA few days ago I saw an episode of the Golden Girls in which Rose (Betty White) decides she needs to get more gusto out of her life and she ends up moving out of the house to find more action. It doesn’t take long before she realizes that she feels dreadfully alone, how much her friends meant to her, and what a horrible mistake she has made. She goes back home and she is thrilled to find they missed her just as much as she did them. The episode made me cry.

If you look around you and think about the people (and pets) in your life, you will realize how much they mean to you and I will bet you mean a lot to them, too. Our friendships can be lifelong or recent, family or non-relations, human or animal, but they all have great meaning. I lost my father this year and my mother-in-law, and, I guess, as of yesterday, one of my cats. I miss them all and their leaving this world has left me with some holes in the fabric of my being.

Luckily, I have other wonderful people in my life (along with three cats). And I am sure others will enter my world and all together these friends will help mend some of those gaps left by lost loved ones. As we get older, we tend to suffer more and more holes and this sometimes is a very difficult thing to deal with. Which goes to prove that the Golden Girls had the right idea. Friends need to stick together, be there for each other, and friends are what make life good even in the difficult times.

Just last month when my father was ill in the hospital and in hospice, my two sisters and I spent more time together than we had in years. All of us look back on those days as very tough emotionally, but also very special because the three of us were together, not only as family, but as friends.

Augusten Burroughs said,  “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.

I think he was wrong. If you have no friends, you have  nothing and nothing else matters at all.

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7 thoughts on “What I learned from The Golden Girls, Cats, and Toads

    • Thanks much, Robert. It was kind of expected (for like a year now). Juliette was getting very thin and recently had taken to lying in the driveway and not moving. I rather think she was a suicidal. Ajeet, of course, would lie right there with her, so I was worried someone would run both of them over. Maybe they were doing one of those suicide pacts and I messed it up by spraying them with water to get them off the drive. .

    • Glad you liked the post, Sandra. Sometimes I think we forget how important friendship is, especially when life gets busy or we lose touch with people. Yet, when we find ourselves struggling with things, we realize how friendship helps us through and keeps us going.

  1. I’m sorry for your losses. Your post has come at the perfect time. I’ve been accused of creating a “family” drama. It hurts to be in this position but I along with every other member of my family feel I did nothing wrong. Still.. I’ve always been a little whimpy and I still feel hurt that I’ve been accused. I know I should ignore the drama, but it still hurts. Friends, friends, friends, that should be my mantra for this week. My friends are there to help me through the rough times. Their companionship, love, and acceptance make the trip down a bad patch of road feel less bumpy. Thank you for this post Pat.

    • Sorry to hear about your family troubles, Tracey. Sadly, not all family members are friends and that can include spouses and children. I am lucky that my children and my parents and my sisters are friends (I have an ex, so you can count him out) and I have great friends who have been there for me over the years. And sometimes our friends are something furry or hairy or scaly….companionship and comfort comes in all species.

      I think during my divorce, it was my sister and her husband and my new Indian dance group friends that saved me from severe depression. I went to live with my sister and brother-in-law and they made me a new family…much better than living alone with all the memories of a twenty-five year marriage and raising family. I got to wake up each day with two wonderful people around to ease the transition to single life. And my new Indian friends in the dance group were kind enough to include me in get-togethers and family occasions. Thank God for them all.

      I hope you find a way to get through these hard times, Tracey. If you have friends to help you, you must be doing something right!

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