That Thing That I Do
My visa disallows me taking a job here in Italy. Ooo! My favorite thing! Which is fortunate as I have no marketable skills. But a little give-&-take, a bit of barter as it were, and I can still manage to uphold one of my primary obligations: accommodations for the cat when she cannot travel with us. In fact, she has a growing fan club, including families who seem to love her despite having no need for reciprocity.
But it’s nice to share the
burden wealth and there are 2 little-old-lady sister cats who are quite particular about their care. In fact, Kiwi and I go stay with them so they might remain in their familiar abode. This arrangement also allows for my looking after 4 strays who have sussed out the kind-hearted woman* who lives here. So this is my gig: feed, scoop, groom those who live “above the stairs;” feed, socialize, mind the general health of the less-fortunates (but still much more fortunate than so many; I must remember this when they are scabby and mournful and unkempt); lay out the veggie buffet for 2 tortoises; strictly follow careful instructions for plants ~not my strong suit!~ and keep the house secure. I take comfort that each of these creatures whom I know and care for is well looked-after. If you want something done right, you know.
It didn’t seem like much until I saw what I do in the light of how much I appreciate it when people are taking care of Kiwi for me: peace of mind. That is a valuable thing! It makes vacations more fun and business trips less worrisome. In a life where I have no career nor tangible accomplishments to show for it, it boosts my spirit to find the value in what I am good at. They are loved and purr for me; I am remunerated ten-fold.
*Back in the day, men searching for work ~or anything else~ who rode the rails (that is, jumped trains without benefit of fare) were called hobos. They had a simple graphic code to communicate vital information to those who followed. There were symbols for bad water, safe camping, mean dog, food with sermon, man with gun, tell a hard luck story here, and many other things, including Kind Woman. It indicated a home where they might find a meal and a friendly face. The sign was a cat. My grandfather was one of those men, looking for work after WWI. Eventually he found it and ran several foundries in Ohio. He still travelled during the week and my grandmother raised their 6 children mostly on her own. I suspect there was a small cat chalked on their sidewalk because my father remembers unknown men turning up at their side door and his mother giving them a plate of dinner and a mug of coffee before they disappeared again.