Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Annus Horribilis

No, the year is not yet over, and in no way do I intend this post to be a reflection on the year as a whole. I am enough of an optimist to continue to view each year as good. However, here in this humble household, we are having a run of ill health.

Perhaps it is the rapidity of repetition of ill health that has me reeling, just a bit. Back in June, we very suddenly lost our sweet dog Tipper. I am one of those folks who reckon that the animals in our lives are part of what connects us to that great mystery of life. Tipper's sudden decline into deteriorating health came almost without warning. True, she was an older dog, but I thought she might be with us longer.

We are currently experiencing a similar surprise of declining health with our one dear cat, Cassidy. He was one of a pair of kittens my daughter and I picked out fifteen years ago. When we first saw him, Cassidy and his brother Sundance were playing animatedly in a small cage at the local humane society. My daughter and I were walking around in the "cat room" looking at kittens. Some looked positively ill, others were so inanimate that, save for the rise and fall of their tiny sides evidencing breathing, it wasn't certain they were in fact alive.

And then there were these two oblivious kittens. They tumbled, and played, stopping only briefly to come to the front of the cage, paw at us, then resume playing. We picked them out right away. There was a bit of a disagreement between my daughter and me as to what to name them, but suddenly Cassidy and Sundance seemed like the RIGHT names.

Sundance was a gorgeous cat, but he succumbed at age three to renal failure. And now Cassidy is showing signs of kidney failure. He has almost stopped eating, is losing weight, and generally declining including sudden blindness from retinal detachment. I am savoring each day with him, knowing the days are coming to an end.

(Kitten Sundance at left)

So, back to this ANNUS MIRABILIS. The phrase has been variously used, but really came to public prominence when Queen Elizabeth II used it in her annual address to her nation in 1992. Herewith her opening sentence:

1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.
True, the queen's troubles far exceeded mine. She had experienced the break-up and divorce of her second son's marriage; her first son and his wife (Diana) had separated and their sordid conversations were being aired in the British press, and her daughter Anne divorced her husband. Then, one of the queen's favorite residences, Windsor Castle, caught fire. No wonder, it was an annus horribilis for her.

For me, it has been a run of family ills. My father fell, developed a hematoma and was hospitalized. My aunt fell, broke her hip, and is slowly on the way to recovery. Then my sister's daughter required near-emergency surgery, and just last week, our daughter-in-law had a health emergency that required her to have surgery, followed by several weeks of recovey.

I almost hesitate to turn the calendar over to the next month in a couple of days. I will strive to adopt the attitude of the poet John Dryden who wrote the poem Annus Mirabilis from which the term Annus Horribilis was derived. Dryden's year of wonders was 1665-1666, which ended with the great fire of London. Dryden was comforted by the fact that the fire eventually stopped and London was rebuilt.

Ah--time to resurrect a favorite expression that I have been known to use: this, too, shall pass.


possumlady said...

Oh Donna, I'm so sorry. This year for you is what 2008 was for me. Losing three cats in 5 months, two brother in laws with major heart issues and one sister diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily all my human family is now healthy. I hope the same for yours.

Two suggestions for Cassidy with the caveat to check with you vet as I've not dealt with renal failure (yet) with any of my cats. I've used Nutrical for cats supplement with success when both Butterball and Moochie were losing weight and not eating. It is a high calorie paste (like hair ball medicine). Butterball hated the taste but Moochie LOVED it. Also, lately, Woody has lost weight due to allergic sores in his mouth. My vet suggested I buy Kitten Chow as it is higher in calories and easier to chew. He loves it (as do all the other cats) and has put the weight back on. Again, I'm not sure if kitten chow would be good for Cassidy since the fat content is higher.

Best of luck and give a a little head skritch to Cassidy for me.

Anvilcloud said...

Poor Cassidy seems to be at that age when many felines beging to fail. Both of our most recent cats faded and were put to sleep at about he age of 16. Hugs.

Grizz………… said...

Sorry to hear of your cat's declining health. I worry about my aged dog, Moon…though time can never be held back, only acknowledged, and we're all of us creatures bounded by time.

As you say, it will eventually pass. Though always, and I say this as kindly as possible, taking a piece of us when it goes.

NCmountainwoman said...

2009 was our Annus Horribilis. And that is the exact phrase we used in describing it. We were totally delighted to see the dawn of 2010. Here's hoping you see a better year in 2011! And that you have had enough misfortune to cover the rest of this year as well.

KGMom said...

All--it is oddly comforting to read that some of you have had similar years, and that you are STILL HERE TO TELL THE TALE!

@ Christine--I am trying all manner of foods, including kitten and even my yogurt. Tonight I gave Cassidy his "usual" wet food which he had been ignoring for at least a week. The result? He gobbled it down. Go figure.

Ginnie said...

The expression "this too shall pass" may be true but it doesn't have a comfy shoulder to cry on!
So sorry for all you are experiencing.

Jayne said...

Goodness Donna... when it rains, it does sometimes pour. Here's wishing you an uneventful rest of this year and a much better year to come. Sending hugs your way.

JeanMac said...

One way to look at it, November can only be better!

troutbirder said...

In the ebb and flow of life there is always a turn. Having perservered, better times are coming.

Ruth said...

Hope things swing up for you soon. It seems we go through stages in life... school events, then weddings, then children, and then in middle age, too many illnesses and funerals. But life does go on with plenty of joy along with the sorrows.

Molly said...

The adage - when it rains, it pours - is so true. I am so sorry that this is the rainy season for you and your family. I have had years like that and it gets to the point that I can hardly wait until January 1st so that I can change out the calendar.

I know a positive spirit is difficult at times like these, but you seem to be doing just that. Good for you.

Yes, this too shall pass, but hugs and prayers go out to you while you are in the midst of it all.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I hope it does pass before another near tragedy occurs.

As a young cleric I learned a valuable lesson. I had an elderly parishioner who had a series of mishaps take place in her families life in a short time. After each event I visited her and tried to reassure who that things would get better before long. Well they didn't: a grand daughter went blind, her brother died, the foreman of her company died, and a couple less serious mishaps I have forgotten. In the midst of all this she was undergoing eye surgery which she was told she should not cry. She courageously put off grieving.
Finally, it dawned on me that I kept giving the same inane words of support and reassurance that things would get better. Of course, they can also get worse. I gave up giving such trite support to people going through hard times.

Whatever befalls you in the near future I am comfident that you have to courage and faith to deal with it.

Beverly said...

Oh my, it is so hard to lose pets, and you have had your dose. I'm so sorry.

This year has been a bit of a loss for me. I am still hurting from the neuralgia from shingles among a couple of other things, and it has taken the fun out of a lot of things. Nothing takes my joy from seeing Ella though. I have been in Virginia for two weeks and leave for Florida tomorrow.