Last month I went to my mom’s home for a few days. Mom was preparing to go into the hospital for surgery and I thought I could help out. I ended up being stranded by a snowstorm—the biggest of this season. It was pretty to look at, but inconvenient.
So my dear cranky old cat, Smitten Kitten, was by himself for a couple of days back at my place. He had plenty of food and water–but he was a needy monster when I got back … following me around, grumbling, mewing, crying. I cleaned his litter box–no good, he was still crying. I put out fresh food and water–still whining and mewing. I gave him two treats–he ate them … but then went back to crying. I sprinkled a little catnip on his bed–no interest. Finally, desperately, I brushed him–then he purred, and he eventually fell asleep next to me on the couch. I think he just needed attention and affection; he needed me to be really there—not walking around doing things while he followed, hoping for some scraps of regard.
I think this is a lesson about the things we are attached to–people and pets. Sometimes they just need us to be really there. Not distracted by tasks or electronic gadgets. Not physically present but mentally someplace else. I realized that the best thing I did for my mom that week was to listen while she worried. By asking questions, offering encouragement and just nodding, I was helping her process what was going on. Yes, it was helpful that I carried in her groceries, picked up her prescriptions and shoveled snow off her patio. But what I really accomplished was to be there–present and supportive during a trying time.
Have you experienced the gift of someone really being there for you? How did it feel? And have you been really there for someone else?
Smitten Kitten’s human mom is Kate Elliott, editor of Gather magazine.