Human beings are drawn to cats because they are all we are not — self-contained, elegant in everything they do, relaxed, assured, glad of company, yet still possessing secret lives.
There were elderly residents at the nursing home where I worked, but there were some young ones as well. They were there because of life-altering illnesses. One of them, Diane, was only fifty-six, but she had muscular dystrophy. Her mother had passed, and Diane needed the services the nursing home could provide her. Everyone loved her, nurses and residents alike. She was full of cheer and positivity, spending her days using her electric wheelchair to visit the patients in all four wings of the home.
When Diane heard of the new trend of having animals in nursing homes, she approached Ruth, the administrator. She wanted the home to adopt a kitten and train it to visit the residents.
Ruth asked the head office, and the request was granted. Ruth went to the animal shelter and brought back a white cat with blue eyes. She was a beauty. Everyone loved her as soon as they saw her. Diane named her Blessing because she would be a definite blessing to all who lived and worked there.
Blessing took on her job with gusto. She would make her rounds to all the patients, and the ones who were sick were first on her list.
After a few weeks on duty, Blessing did something unusual. She crawled onto the bed with Mr. Russo and refused to leave, putting up a fuss when the nurse grabbed her and put her out in the hall. She was back in Mr. Russo’s room and on the bed in a flash.
Finally, the nurse was able to get her out of the room, but Blessing would not leave the door. She meowed loudly, almost like a scream. The fuss was so loud that they decided to let Blessing stay with Mr. Russo.
Through the night, Blessing stayed very quiet and lay on Mr. Russo’s bed right near his chest. Mr. Russo had been ill for some time, and he passed on during the night. Only after he passed did Blessing return to her own bed.
The next day, Blessing was back on the job, visiting all the patients. Two weeks later, the fuss that had occurred in Mr. Russo’s room was repeated in the room of Mrs. Adams. We left Blessing with Mrs. Adams, wondering if she would pass, too. Sure enough, around 7 p.m., Mrs. Adams passed on. Then Blessing went to her own bed.
Nothing else occurred for several weeks, but then Blessing caused a big commotion in another lady’s room. Sure enough, the lady passed later that morning. Was Blessing aware that these people were in their final hours?
Life went on at the nursing home, and Blessing continued to predict the passing of residents. Then one day, Diane got very ill. She was sent to the hospital, and Blessing checked her room several times a day.
When Diane returned to the home, Blessing jumped on her bed after a few weeks, and the entire scenario was repeated. She stayed there for eighteen hours without moving from Diane’s side. Shortly after 4 a.m., we saw Blessing heading for her bed. When we checked on Diane, she had indeed passed away.
Blessing lived at the nursing home for twelve years, but one day we noticed a lump on her hip. She was taken to the vet and diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The vet advised that she be put to sleep to ease her pain.
We made an appointment for the next day and took Blessing home to make one more round of the patients. This time, she was carried. That night, Blessing died in her own bed, a fitting end for this beautiful cat who had dedicated her life to the patients who lived there.