September 28, 2022

I returned home to the sad reality of a dying pet.  The cat, whom we’ve had temporary ownership of (for about two years) has been diagnosed with cancer.  The real owners have decided to put her down.  This is especially difficult because even after being quite sick, this feline rallies.  We know she is going downhill and the inevitable is near, but she still gives love and enjoys exploring the outdoors.

Many people in our neighborhood know the cat.  In fact, she’s done a remarkable job of bringing people together. 

I met one of those fine neighbors today by the dumpster.  She was struggling to throw her recycling away and could neither lift up her bag or open the recycling bin.  She is elderly and crippled with arthritis.  I offered to help her and took her bag of recycling.  As I lifted it into the bin, I noticed two empty gallons of Vodka.  My neighbor’s eyes and mine met in that instance and she knew at once what I’d seen.

“My painkiller,” she explained.

“Yes,” I agreed.  “We all need painkillers.

Then she thanked me profusely.  “It’s so hard to ask for help.  I keep telling myself I can still do certain things but I can’t.”

“Ask any time,” I told her.  “We all need help sometimes.  We’re not spring chickens anymore.”

“I know,” she nodded.  “I am an old hen and ready for the stew pot.”

Published by susancasslangmailcom

Susan Casslan is a writer and a nurse. Her writing touches on spirituality and issues pertaining to social justice. Casslan lived for a decade in the San Francisco Inner Mission District, and she was greatly inspired by the Latinx culture of that neighborhood. The Inner Mission emerges in her books Conversations with Richard Purcell: The Adventures and Reflections of a Renegade San Francisco Priest and That Which Wavers with the Night, as well as in her chapbook 24th Street and Other Poems. Additionally, Casslan’s nonfiction articles have appeared in El Tecolote, an Inner Mission newspaper.

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