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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

The Cat - May 2016
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

In 2002, my sister in Alaska sent me a funny story about a cat.  It was during a time when I needed to laugh—my husband was battling kidney cancer. I saved the story and found it again recently when I was sorting old papers.  It is supposed to be a true story about a pastor of a church.  I want to share it with you.

The pastor had a kitten that climbed up a spindly tree in his backyard and then was afraid to come down.  The pastor coaxed and offered warm milk to the kitty, but the cat would not venture down.

The tree was not sturdy enough to climb.  So the pastor decided that if he tied a rope from the tree to his car and slowly drove forward, then he might bend the tree down enough to reach up and get the kitten.  He did all this, checking his progress frequently.  He figured if he went just a little bit further, the tree would be sufficiently bent for him to reach the kitten.

But as the car eased just a little bit further, the rope broke, the tree went “boing!” and the kitten instantly sailed through the air—out of sight!

The pastor felt terrible and walked all over the neighborhood, asking people if they’d seen a little kitten.  No, nobody had seen a stray kitten.  So the pastor prayed, “Lord, I just commit this kitten to your keeping” and went on about his business.

A few days later while he was at the grocery store, he met one of his church members.  He happened to look into her shopping cart and was amazed to see cat food.  Now this woman was a cat hater, and everyone knew it.  So he asked her, “Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?”

She replied, “You won’t believe this,” and told him how her little girl had been begging her for a cat, but she kept refusing.  Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so the mom finally told the little girl, “Well, if God gives you a cat, I’ll let you keep it.”

She told the pastor, “I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees, and ask God for a cat.  And really, Pastor, you won’t believe this.  But I saw it with my own eyes.  A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its paws outspread, and landed right in front of her.”

When I read this story, it made me laugh—laughter is good for us.  In fact, Norman Cousins who wrote “The Anatomy of an Illness” and “Laughter Is the Best Medicine” actually helped himself recover from two very serious illnesses by laughing. 

After being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an extremely painful disease, Norman hired a nurse to care for him and spent his time watching everything funny he could find:  “Marx Brothers,” “Laurel and Hardy,” “I Love Lucy,” “Candid Camera.”  He found that when he was in too much pain to sleep, ten minutes of belly-laughing could give him 2 hours of pain relief when nothing else would help.

Norman Cousins said, “Laughter is a form of internal jogging.  It moves your internal organs around.  It enhances respiration.  It is an igniter of great expectations.” 

If you are experiencing any kind of stress or sadness in your life, such as the death of someone you love, it might be good to surround yourself with positive people and laughter:  funny stories, funny movies, and other people who enjoy laughing.  “Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life” (author unknown).

I still remember the first time I laughed out loud after my husband died—it was a few months after his death.  Momentarily, I felt guilty for laughing and became afraid that I might forget my husband if I started laughing and enjoying life.  But I have found that I will never forget him.  Even though he has been gone for ten years and I have remarried, I still remember and treasure my time with my husband who died.

If you are grieving, don’t be afraid to enjoy life again, including laughter.  Laughing is good for your immune system and emotional well-being.  Lord Byron said, “Always laugh when you can. It is a cheap medicine.”  I hope the cat story gave you a laugh too.     

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator