our eccentric neighbour *Wendy* woke us up with a 3am call railing about how her cats are giving her so much stress she is going nuts. in her unkind 3am 'you woke me up for that?!' state, the woman felt that NUTS was the operative word here...
against our advice, Wendy took in one more cat over the 3 she already has in the flat causing one of her existing ones to picket in protest by spraying her furniture any chance it got. at first, Wendy was appealing for the woman to take her offending cat in in hopes that we can toilet train before returning to her. but the cat is not losing its toilet training by accident here. as long as the new cat is in the flat, she is going to be upset and act up.
the woman's advice for Wendy is to give up one of the cats and is actively looking for a loving and patient foster right now who can give this distressed cat a break.
this and the case of the old hoarder lady really drive home the fact that more needs to be done for our old and alone. and not just to provide the basics like food, hygiene and shelter. their solitary lifestyles give them no release for their stress and grief and the result is an inward imploding state and a string of irrational bad decisions. gone on long enough, any well-meaning people who want to help can do little more than wade through their woolly self-seeking obstinacy to an uneasy friendship that is frustrating for both parties.
the question the woman would like to ask is, is there a way back from where Wendy and the old lady have wandered?
cleaning out the old hoarder lady's roach-infested cabinet the other day, the woman came across all her old photos, all smeared with roach droppings, and sees a life full of potential, with people, family and events. the old lady was anxious to remind the volunteers not to throw them away. so they are cleaned and stored, all these imprints of people that are no longer there. there was a full-colour laminated A4 photoshop-ed poster of the old lady and her 2 dogs which seemed recent. the old lady told her it was done by friends, but they no longer come to visit.
in the process of cleaning and painting the old lady's flat, the woman has seen both the soft and the cold mercenary side of the old lady, been exceedingly frustrated and been touched. the way forward is still fraught with uncertainties but the transformation of the flat has motivated the old lady to try in her own small ways to maintain it that way. she is also more willing to listen to the volunteers' suggestions and to let go of some of her animals. the woman hopes in her heart that this progress will not be undone by them becoming yet another collection of friends who no longer come to visit.
the woman wonders how many of us would turn out like this? the statistics on the solitary elderly and the mentally volatile are certainly against us.
the best counters the woman can think of are to build up our networks while we can, keep akin to this changing world, and break our hard habit for the material. in the old lady's cabinet are bags, jewelery, liquor, ginseng and clothes from all eras. they probably meant something at some point. now all they do is clog up her world and her mind with their irrelevance.