Murphy

24 Apr

I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

April 24 – Health mascot: Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual.

Seventeen  years ago, shortly after I had moved into my first apartment, I brought home a squirming pillow case containing a tiny scrap of a cat. At the tender age of three weeks, the kitten had been rejected by his mother, a stray cat who had had her litter up against a co-worker’s fence. This tiny creature was ill and emaciated, and holding onto life by a mere thread.

I called him Murphy, figured out how to feed him, and with the vet’s help, I nursed him to health. He made the transformation from sick helpless kitten to strong, healthy cat, and he ended up living a long and happy life.

It has been said that cats are autistic. They are seen to be aloof and unsociable, while at the same time being very, very smart. Murphy in particular would have been a great mascot for autism – at least, for my son George’s unique brand of autism.

* Murphy had a rough start to life and needed a lot of special care and attention. He thrived despite his challenges.

* Murphy, being a cat, was not the most sociable of beings. He tended to slink away and keep to himself if unfamiliar people were around, but once you earned his trust, he was your friend for life.

* Murphy did not like strange surroundings or circumstances. The first time I took him to my mom’s place he was a bag of nerves. After a few visits, however, he acted like he owned the place.

* Murphy had definite sensory issues. He disliked loud noises and crawled into my closet whenever there was a thunderstorm.

* Murphy thought way out of the box. He was intelligent and got up to some hilarious antics with the intention of making me laugh.

* A complex creature by nature, Murphy was happy as long as he knew where things stood. He did not react well to changes in routine.

When I left South Africa, I made the heartbreaking decision to leave Murphy behind. He was used to the sunshine and the wide open spaces, and to uproot him would have been the wrong thing to do. My mom willingly gave him the best possible home, and he lived a very contented life with her until he died of kidney failure just a few months ago, at the stately age of 16.

Although George never got to meet Murphy, I have no doubt that boy and cat were kindred spirits.

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)

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