Tuesday, July 31, 2018

That word

On Monday, Napoleon's dad, Caleb used the word "chemotherapy." So it's true: his wife Randi has pancreatic cancer. She's recovering from chemo at a cancer center in the far west suburbs, where doctors are monitoring something related to her blood. Caleb seemed glad that she was out of The Mayo Clinic and back in Chicagoland. He is grateful for the care she's receiving. He does not talk much about the future.

Napoleon, on the other hand, was gloriously happy. Wide-eyed and lively. Flipping back and forth on the sidewalk, trying to climb into my purse.

He's such a goodwill ambassador! Tourists love him. An Asian woman and her son, speaking in very broken English, came over with their doggie bag from a pizza place very popular with out-of-towners. (I guess they didn't like deep dish.) The mom handed Caleb the pizza and wished him well and her son shyly, gently bonded with Napoleon. It was so sweet.

A rather affluent couple -- obviously cat fans -- had questions for Caleb about Napoleon. I was happy to act as his character reference, talking about how "chill" Napoleon is, and how he's really never had a bad day in his furry little life. I also said that Caleb was one of the best-read people I've ever met, and indicated the books I brought him. Then I moved along. Caleb seemed to be enjoying the positive attention from a new source and I hope it lifted his spirits. (And I sensed the couple might drop a $20 into his cup.)

Thinking of raised spirits ... At the library book sale, I found a practically new copy of Dewey. The spine was still perfect, the dust cover pristine. When I reached for it, one of my fellow volunteers was gleeful. "Oh, good! I put it out on top, hoping someone would take it!" I told her it was going to someone who was both a book lover and a cat lover. Since I'd volunteered to work the sale, I got this lovely copy for free.

I wrapped it in some dog-and-cat wrapping paper I received as part of a fundraising effort from the ASPCA. I attached a rather silly "get well" card I got in a packet of greeting cards from the HSUS. (A cat with a thermometer in its mouth: "You're sick? That's a cat-astrophe!") I slipped a $5 into the card and presented it to Caleb for his wife.

So in all, it cost me $5. But giving Caleb that gift to take to the cancer center made me so happy. Randi once told me she appreciated that I treated her like a woman, not a homeless woman. I bet the other patients have cards and little gifts near their beds. Now she does, too. Just like any other woman would.

Knowing this little family has taught me a lot about life. I just wish I could foresee a happy ending for them. I have read the statistics on pancreatic cancer survival rates. They are not good. So I shall pray for their peace and comfort.


  1. Your acts of charity have really made me examine how everything helps. Thanks for being so thoughtful to this little family and so many of the forgotten people.

  2. Your interactions with this sweet family are so far removed from my world--I'm learning a lot. And thinking of how I would respond to them, too.


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