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Autumn Rapture

“I, when the summer was over,
Found autumn was covered with gold:
And colors more lovely than springtime
Were there for these eyes to behold.”
“Autumn Rapture”
by George R. Kossik

Hubby and I were lucky to be in New Hampshire for most of last week. Each day there were more and more trees turning color. Hubby made great use of his camera. He took so many photos that he could make a calendar. I will tell you all about New Hampshire next week.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, daughter Sue had surgery at Tufts Medical Center for a pinched nerve in her neck. Her cousin Terri, a retired nurse, invited Sue to come to her home in Attleboro and stay for about 10 days. Terri knew exactly how to dress Sue’s incision so Hubby and I were relieved that we did not have to take care of the wound.

While Sue was in Attleboro, it was my job to take care of Sue’s cats, “Tia” and “Cleo,” a beautiful, totally white cat and the older of the two. She was called Cleo for Cleopatra because she looked so much like an Egyptian cat that you might see on the walls of an ancient Egyptian tomb. Tia has long orange and white fur. Cleo, in the past few years, had turned deaf. As a matter of fact, many white cats are deaf at birth. Sue made sure that Cleo could hear when she first got her as a tiny kitten. Cleo only knew that I had come in the house when she could feel the door close so she slept in the living room, near the front door. Tia, which means “aunt” in Spanish, was usually out on the windowsill in the kitchen. Cleo came running to me when she saw that I had come in the house. She would scoot by me and would be waiting for me in the kitchen, next to her food dish. Tia would slowly come down from the windowsill. Both would be purring so loudly that I could hear them as I opened their can of food. I would also give them some dry food and water, clean their litter box, and then go home.

When I went into Sue’s house about 7:30 p.m., on Friday evening, a week after Sue’s neck surgery, Cleo, age 17 and one-half years, was lifeless on the living room floor. She had expired earlier that day. I called Hubby and he came running over with a shoe box. We noticed some pink fluid on the kitchen floor, which, we assume, was tinted by blood. Hubby cleaned the floor and put the cat in a shoe box. I decided not to call Sue that night because it was late. On Saturday morning, I called her about noon and told her about Cleo. There were some tears on both ends of the phone but I tried to reassure Sue that 17 years was a very long life, even for an indoor cat. Before I called Sue, I alerted daughter Jeanne, our nurse, that Cleo had died. Jeanne called Sue later and reminded her that Jeanne had helped when a lovely local dog had to have IV’s to prolong her life. Jeanne told Sue that she never would want Cleo to go through that type of treatment to prolong her life. Cleo had died the “right” way—very sudden, and never suffering.

Sue, driven by cousin Terri, returned home on Saturday so that she could be with Tia, her six-year-old cat. Hubby had removed Cleo and had cleaned up the blood on the kitchen floor and on the carpet, near the front door. Terri stayed with Sue and with Hubby and me until the shock of coming home had lessened for Sue. Since Cleo’s death Tia has been keeping a close eye on Sue. She follows her around like a puppy. She is going to be okay.

On Sun., Sept. 18, Hubby and I were pleased to be invited to the annual Pancake Breakfast at St. Brendan Parish. Eileen Collins asked us to sit with her, Mary Scarborough, Norma Conley, Nell Joyce, and Dotty Coulombre. Longtime friend Dottie Dunford came over and chatted with us. Her husband Bob and Jack Ryan were in the kitchen cooking for the event. I had brought a bottle of Smucker’s Sugar Free Pancake Syrup with me from home. (It is positively scrumptious but it is difficult to find.) Our pals Loretta Philbrick and Ginny Biagiotti sat at the next table.

At the Pancake Breakfast, Ruth Putnam was joined by her son, Fr. Rich Putnam. Hubby had worked with Fr. Rich in the Boston Schools quite a few years ago. He came over to chat with us. Caroline Innello was sitting with Ruth and Fr. Rich. Craig Galvin came around to speak with those in attendance. Our pal Mike Bradley, his wife Ann, and Betty Graham were also at the breakfast.

Marie McDonough came into the breakfast and said that she had damaged her car outside the church. She wanted everyone to know that J.J. O’Connor, assisted by several of his friends, had come, just like a knight in shining armor, to her aid. J.J. came into the breakfast a little later on in the morning. We all thanked him for helping Marie. Sean Sullivan was walking around the hall, carrying Caileen O’Loughlin, his three-month-old god-daughter. We had a chance to chat with Jack and Jan Ryan. They were at the breakfast with their son Jim and their grandson James. More people came in to enjoy the breakfast after the 8 a.m. Mass and the 10 a.m. Mass. It was a lovely way to spend my birthday morning. (Jack Ryan, who was the emcee for the breakfast, told everyone that it was my birthday that day.)

On Tues., Sept. 13, my neighbors Jim and Joan Pierce invited me to a Coffee Hour for council candidate Frank Baker. Jim Jr. was there with his girl Missy; son Sean, with his girl Laura. Also attending were Ellen McDonough, Mary Ellen Monahan, and Fran and James Baker.

I sat mostly with my longtime friend and neighbor Janie. Frank was delayed a little that evening so I had a chance to catch up with the Pierces’ sons and their activities. When Frank came in, he said that he was the father of twins, Maxine and Benjamin. Frank stayed about an hour. It was a very pleasant evening, chatting with my neighbors, and listening to Frank.

On Thurs., Sept. 15, Hubby and I were delighted to be invited to two events on Convocation Day at UMass Boston. At 8:30 a.m. we arrived at UMass and our good friend Gail Hobin, Vice Chancellor for Community Relations, hugged both of us after not seeing us all summer. Mona Connolly Casper, her administrative assistant, also welcomed us. It was great to see Pattie Brett at the ceremony. Gail introduced us to Chief James Overton, the new director of public safety at the university. I saw Alkia Powell, who is the coordinator of community services. I already had met Alkia’s mother Wilma when I was a rehab patients at the Bostonian Nursing Care Center. Wilma works in the Dietary Department.

Gail ushered us to the table reserved for community people. (UMass’s photographer, Harry Brett, even took a picture with the reserved sign in front of us.) Linda O’Brien came and sat with us. Linda, who is a “fellow” graduate of Girls’ Latin School, is the director of the Customer Service Center at UMass Boston. Ana Torres, special assistant to the CDO, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was also at our table.

Keith Motley, who, by the way, has been chancellor for four years, was in great form at the early reception. He noted that UMass Boston now has 16,000 students. He mentioned that the concrete had been poured for the new Science Complex. Among the others who spoke that morning were Vice Chancellor Kathleen Teehan, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Ellen O’Connor, Student Government President Travis Henderson, Provost Winston Langley, and Student Trustee Bianca Baldassarre. We were floored by the next speaker, Elizabeth Warren, an announced candidate for the US Senate next year. Hubby and I could not stay to hear her because we had a noon date at the Irish Cultural Centre.

In honor of Sue’s beloved feline Cleo, I will tell you of the inscription on a tee shirt I saw: “And thou shall have dominion over all the beasts —except, of course, for cats!”