Year in Review 2014 – Personal Matters

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It’s time for the obligatory post looking back on the past year. Well, 2014 will be remembered as one of the sad years in my life. 😦 We were just hoping the year would be over soon by the time holidays started. Perhaps this sadness is echoed in my highly irregular posting schedule, too, because I felt zero interest in broadcasting my depression and loss. I wish my blog to be a place of hope and inspiration, of the beautiful in life. That doesn’t mean I shy away from the bad, but I don’t wish to dwell on it too much. So, what happened?

Picture 1: Dozing on the lawn, preferrably in the shade.  The privilege of a family dog. Picture 2: After recovering from his first illness, when he lost over 10 kg of weight and gained back 5, and diagnosis of congestive heart failure.

On July 15th, I had to say goodbye to my faithful companion on daily walks for almost 14 years, golden retriever Gaj (pronounced like guy). He was very ill in the past years, but he always rallied extremely well with the help from the vet. Unfortunately, he wasn’t getting any better despite the medication and when he couldn’t stand up on his own anymore, we knew it was the humane thing to say goodbye and spare him a long, torturous death. I still tear up thinking about that day, how I brought him to the vet in my arms. We said goodbye, petting him until he fell asleep. I will never forget the good days we had together, how he enjoyed the walks, the snow, to travel in the car, and how he found a way to chase us in the yard, or nap at our feet. He was a good dog, a great dog, and I will miss him. I don’t think any of us anticipated what he would mean to us, how he changed our lives for the better. We still take daily walks at the same hour we used to go with him, walking the same routes. In a way these paths became ours. People remembered us and many asked about him when he could no longer walk the longer routes. We were always there, like clockwork. 😀 I like to remember that.

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Picture 1: On my desk and on my study papers. 😀 Picture 2: Sleeping on my bed – the usual position.

The second loss I experienced was my tomcat Miško (Mouser). He was 16 years old, a great age for a cat, but he could have lived even longer. We were very close and he spent many a night sleeping at my feet on my bed. He always greeted you with a meow when you said a word to him, almost having a conversation with you in his own way. He was a great cat with a distinct personality and we went along extremely well. He loved to sleep on my bed, or on the radiator in my room, and when we watched television, he would come and curl up on our feet or laps. He purred every time you touched him, really. He was such a nice cat this way. The neighbours’ cats were in awe of him, even the dogs knew not to take any chances on his turf. He only let family members pet him and shied away from strangers, so he was really only our cat. He began losing teeth when he was about 10 years old. His litter sister (Mushi) is still living with us and she has all her teeth, so we don’t know why he lost his, but that affected his health. I know the vet was surprised with the muscle tone he still retained with 14 years, so we were feeding him right – smaller pieces, softer meat. He lost a lot of weight at one point because the pain did not allow him to eat solid food. I brought him to the vet every day to get his pain medication and antibiotics and we fed him a rich paste, a formula for cats recovering after an operation. He was ok after that for a couple of years, but he continued to lose teeth in intervals. This autumn, he again lost a lot of weight quite suddenly, but instead of taking refuge in my room as usual when the few remining teeth gave him problems, he chose a box on the cellar stairs. Then he stopped eating and drinking water altogether during the holidays. It was horrible. We tried to feed him with a syringe, but he declined all food and water. He looked at me with these eyes, I can’t forget. It was his time and he passed away on Christmas night. Can you imagine how I felt? A day celebrated as one of the most happy holidays turned sour. He sleeps now in our garden.

Picture 1: First day at home. They curled up together for months afterwards. Miki (white spotted one) was considerably smaller than Olly and was fed milk with a spoon by my grandma when she found him.  Picture 2: Occupation of my sister’s chair. Still in progress today. The usual occupator – Olly.

But 2014 was not only a sad year. A week before Gaj passed away, we brought home 2 tomcats – the most cuddly, friendly kittens you can imagine. We call them Olly and Miki. They are just sweet, and having them fill the void Gaj’s death caused was a balm at the time. Even the old cats did not protest their presence, which was a surprise – we once adopted a foundling cat, but Mushi (the old tabby) rarely came home in protest. When he disappeared one day, just as he had appeared, she returned home for good. Olly and Miki are devoted to my sister and she can always call them to her when they frolic outside. They decided she’s their boss and that is that, but they are just a bunch of cuddly balls of fur. We love them to bits but they were a lot of work at first – they were infected with ringworm and had fleas, infected eyes, too, not unexpected with kittens the mother hid in tall grass. Three kittens from the litter died of exposure before my grandmother discovered them. The mother cat belongs to one of the neighbours, but the man doesn’t feed his cats sufficiently, so the old cat brought the kittens closer to my grandmother’s house where they get goats milk, and kitchen scraps on the compost heap. Granma being grandma, she began to feed all the cats that came to the house. But we got the two kittens as our grandmother’s cat does not tolerate any other cats in the house. Murphy’s law in effect, despite preventive measures and the disinfectant we got from the vet, we all got infected with ringworm. It’s no fun getting rid of this parasite and the red blemishes look positively awful. Fortunately this summer was very rainy, so I could hide the red rings on my arms and legs with long sleeves and jeans. But once the kittens were cured, their coats turned out silky soft and really thick. It’s such a pleasure to pet them now. They aren’t afraid of water either; only natural when we had to bathe them for two weeks. It was worth it. I love them.

Miki, 7 months old. He’s a strong, big tomcat. Notice the points on his ears – he’s like a squirrel or a lynx. 😀 He has one white dot at the tip of his tail and black gums, so it looks like he’s wearing lipstick.

My school year was productive and I passed my exams. I also made quite a few new friends, which I did not expect. It’s always a pleasure to find new people to share your life with and who understand you. So, I enjoyed 2014, too. But that was true of the first half of the year. Autumn always brings great stress in my life, but I survived the challenges and moved forward one step at a time.

Still, 2014 was stressful – the first time I called the police in my life when I suspected the neighbour of beating his wife. Apparently he did not strike her, but the loud, hysterical crying, man’s screamed cursing and insults, and falling furniture did not let me ignore what was happening. It was abuse plain and simple and I couldn’t close my eyes to it. I’ve heard something similar in the past, but never this bad – I did not call then, perhaps too scared of overstepping. I know that wasn’t right – I was obliged to help her then, too. I’m not strong enough and I don’t have the right to physically intervene, but I can always pick up the phone and call. That day, I couldn’t stomach the noise and the situation anymore. I was genuinely scared for the woman; I don’t even know her even though she lives in the flat above mine. I don’t wish anyone to experience what she went through and the fear that pushed me to do something. I cried as I called. I did the right thing, but it felt even scarier than doing nothing, as irrational as it may sound. The officer was nice enough to tell me that everything is alright with the woman and that I did the right thing. Other neighbours also said it was right when I overheared them in the hallway. I am only glad nothing like that day happened again, so the call was worth it. People, when anything similar happens – call. It is the decent thing to do.

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Now I only wish for a peaceful 2015. May it bring happiness, health, success, and love. Who doesn’t wish for these things? The world would be a better place.

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