Learning to Purr

By Phil Skiff

My cat, Max, and I are great friends.

Image by Ruth A. Skiff.

Max recently had a stroke. He lost sight in his left eye and some control over his left side, so he has to be more careful now. I’m impressed, though, with how well he has adapted to his new condition.

I lost my right leg above the knee after a motorcycle accident in 2008 so Max and I share the need for adjusting our lifestyles. I too have to be especially careful since unnoticed bumps and edges can cause me to fall.

Of course, things could be much worse. At least we both survived.

Since his stroke, Max seems to focus on life’s simple pleasures, like the leftover milk in cereal bowls and the spare bit of corn left on a cob. When I’m petting him, he gets a dreamy look in his eyes and seems to purr a lot more. He seems to appreciate just being alive these days.

Me? I often thank God that I’m still here. I also appreciate having a loving family, a good job, and a caring healthcare team. Today, when things start to get me down, I remember what I’ve already overcome and am thankful that I have been resilient.

Sure, adapting to life’s difficulties is a challenge, but I think most people (and animals) can do so.

Yes, I’m very aware when my body hurts, when the ground makes walking treacherous, and when I have trouble doing something. Generally though, it’s just part of life now, and I suspect that Max sees it that way too. Running into obstacles and finding ways to deal with them is just our “new normal.”

When Max and I are just hanging out watching television and he’s curled up on my lap, we don’t seem to notice the difference too much.

Like Max, we all need to stop dwelling on our problems and try to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, we need to be thankful for what we have. Like Max, we need to learn to just relax and purr a lot more.

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