The doctor appointment didn’t go well. I knew I was sick when the landlady said she was taking me and I put up minimal fuss. I was too tired to get that worked up. The doctor said I have lymphoma. It’s common, I guess, in us seniors, but still, I’d rather not have it at all. I’m just glad I don’t have to stay there. They gave me some injections and sent me home. The doctor said that my response would determine future treatment.
It’s both a dread and a relief. I dread that my days look numbered and relief that I’m not going through a lot of procedures. Sure, all of our days are numbered, but my number looks small and a bit more concrete. But I’m home and I can take a nap in my favorite spot. I sleep there so often, there’s a dent in the blankets shaped exactly like me.
Although I don’t move much, I can sense that the landlady is checking up on me. She left me a small plate of my favorite foods. I’ll try that later, if I’m hungry. We’ve been together over 14 years now. I don’t remember much from before I moved here. Perhaps I choose not to remember. It was a hard time. There wasn’t anything to eat and danger lurked everywhere. I almost made it into a house with a ton of kids in it, but they sent me away (temporarily they said) and I wound up here. I was told I’d go back to the kids, but that never happened.
The landlady, even though she never met me before, opened her house to me and gave me my own room. It had a bed, chairs, closet, dresser, and a window I could look out of. There were birds right outside my window. She’d bring me my meals and talk to me. Sometimes we’d play games, but I was a bit shy at first. On weekends, her boyfriend would come over and he was definitely better at games than she was. I looked forward to his visits.
As I became more comfortable, I spent less time in my room and more time in the rest of the house. The woman is an inept housekeeper and a hoarder so the place was a wonderland to explore. I could hide and she’d never find me. It was magical. The food was regular and good. She kept buying me new snacks to try. I especially liked her large screened in porch and the daily constitutionals around the property. The birds, squirrels, and chipmunks, especially the chipmunks, were very entertaining. Sometimes there was a deer or a bear in the yard. The landlady would get panicky whenever she saw a bear. She’d yell at me to get into the house, but I’d just stand there. I wasn’t afraid.
In the first year and a half that I lived here, the landlady kept bringing in temporary lodgers. They’d get my bedroom, but I’d get the rest of the house. I didn’t really like them and kept my distance. Then one day, the revolving door of ne’er-do-wells stopped revolving and a very hairy guy moved in permanently. He was quite handsome under all that hair, despite his slightly crossed eyes, and quite the suck-up, too. He used his looks and his manipulative wiles to melt the hearts of all who gazed upon him. The landlady was as bad as the rest of them. Apparently, I was the only one who could resist his charms. I would have preferred if he hadn’t had moved in, but if someone was going to move in, he was the best of the bunch.
Oh, I guess he wasn’t all bad. When the landlady was away, which was often, it was nice to know someone else was around. One thing that I didn’t like about him, though, was that he would eat my food if he thought I was finished. I didn’t eat as much as he did so I would leave food to pick on later. He’d just assume that I was done and eat it. I thought that was very rude and it was a habit I could never break him of. For the most part, we didn’t interact much with each other. He sought me out a lot more often than I sought him out, always turning on the charm, but I played it cool. However, it was comforting to know he was in the house.
Outside, however, he was a hoot. He had an adventurous streak in him, always exploring the neighborhood, playing some harmless pranks. Sometimes, he’d disappear and we didn’t know where he was or when he’d come back. That always upset the landlady. I’m much more reserved than him, but a bit of his wildness rubbed off on me. Sometimes I’d follow him on one of his adventures. Most of the time, I’d just follow my own interests. You should have seen the look on my landlady’s face when she found me sitting on the roof a few times! Can you believe it? The roof!
None of us were big fans of the cold weather or of the snow. When the snow was deep, and I mean really, really, deep, the landlady’s boyfriend would dig huge trenches from the house to the cars and to the birdfeeder. The three of us would all be sitting near the dining room window, watching the birds at the feeder, when he’d come in and force us to go outside and get some fresh air. I don’t think any of us enjoyed it, but it made for wonderful memories. Then in the evening, the boyfriend would build a fire in the fireplace. We’d all bask in the heat, staring at the flames, contented.
A little over two years ago my hairy companion started to lose weight. He’d often cough after eating, like he was going to throw up, but couldn’t. He lost a lot of weight. Some days he was back to his old self and then other days… Well, you just knew. When he died, it was weird around the house. At meal times, there were no dishes at his place. My food remained untouched when I was done. The walks outside were not as much fun. I guess I missed him. I know the landlady did and so did her boyfriend. They spoke of him often. There was even talk about bringing in another lodger, but nothing ever came of that.
But we got past the loss and moved on. In some ways, it was nice having the house to myself again when the landlady was away. I had forgotten how good it was to be on one’s own schedule and do what I wanted when I wanted. She’d have someone pop in once a day to check on the house and give me a meal. I wasn’t interested in dealing with these strangers so I’d just keep to myself when they arrived.
I’m not sure what happened, but earlier this year, the landlady started staying home way more than usual. She’s here almost all the time. I must be getting old. In the past, that would have been too much togetherness, but, you know, I’m not minding it all that much. Her main preoccupations seem to be surfing the net and doing dishes. That leaves me free to do whatever I want. We go out together and walk around when the weather is good and spend a little time together right before bedtime. It’s a nice flow. Her boyfriend continues to show up on the weekends. Don’t tell her this, but I think her boyfriend is my favorite person.
So here I am, looking back on my life. The beginning was harsh, but I found a place that would accept me, even love me. After all this time, I think I can finally admit that I love them, too. I love the landlady who took me in and made sure I had a good life, her boyfriend who engages me and makes me feel like a million bucks, and even that hairy dude who always wanted to be my friend no matter what I did. I love them all.
I accept and am accepted. I love and am loved. I live in this moment. There is only now.