In Absentia 4
I pick up the cat’s bowl with the claw and place the bowl by the cat food. No kibble. So, holding the blue plastic measuring spoon in one hand I take my two canes and balance the spoon between my right thumb and the cane handle. Then I limp down the corridor to the laundry room where I store the kibble. I fill the measuring spoon from the packet, reseal the bag, pick up my canes and wedge the now full measuring spoon back between thumb and cane handle. The cat mews happily and runs out between my legs. I lurch and … disaster … the spoon slips from my arthritic fingers and the kibble forms neat, rolling patterns on the floor.
What can I do? I think immediately of the Dyson and limp into the hall where I have left it. I extend the handle, hold the handle with my right hand, cane and all, and push the Dyson down to where the cat is feasting. I plug the Dyson in and switch it on. One rumble from the Dyson and the cat abandons the kibble and seeks the safety of the basement. I manoeuvre the Dyson toward the cat food but the Dyson is in carpet mode. It beats the floor and will do nothing but push the kibble before it. I push the kibble into a neat pile and leave it there. As I turn the Dyson off, the garden kneeler catches my eye. I go to fetch it and balance it against my leg, kicking it forward so it won’t catch against my canes and trip me.
I have brought the cat’s bowl with me this time and I kneel before the kibble. Then I start picking the pieces up, one and two at a time. My back aches from the slow bending and twisting and my heart is breaking as I consider my own stupidity. Hot tears of frustration prick at my eyes and I blink them away. This operation is so long and so slow. I slip forward and place my hand palm down on the kibble. My palm is sticky with sweat and I raise a handful of kibble as I push myself up. This I scrape into the cat bowl. Using this new technique, I transfer the kibble stuck to my hand first to the cat bowl and then to the measuring cup.
It’s time to get to my feet. I cannot heave myself up on the garden kneeler’s handles and hang on to the cat food: too much risk of a second spill. I have leaned the claw against the all with my sticks so using both hands on the kneeler handles I struggle to my feet. As I do so, I knock both canes over. Now they are lying flat on the floor with the claw. The canes have a rubber tip and if I stand on the edge of it, the cane will rise in the air like magic. I do this twice. Then I use the canes to grasp the claw and the claw, now in my possession, to raise the cat food. Success!
I struggle my unbalanced way down the corridor, place my sticks on the counter, put the right amount of kibble into the cat’s bowl and, with the cane, lower the cat’s food to the floor. I glance at my watch. This operation has taken me fifteen minutes, half of which I have spent kneeling on the floor. I call the cat. The cat appears. I reach for my canes. The claw falls to the floor. I grab for it and knock down one of my canes. The cane strikes the cat who is greedily feeding. The cat jumps away and spills her water all over the floor.
I stand there, horrified. Hot wet tears of humiliation trickle down my face.