It was the last appointment of 2015. There we were – five women and a cat named Valentino. The name Valentino, comes from the latin word “valens” which means, he who has value. It was a most appropriate name for this loving, sweet natured orange tabby cat. Years ago, he’d had a mass surgically removed. The procedure was subsidized by The Farley Foundation, a charity that helps reduce the cost of non-elective veterinary care for disabled people, seniors on social assistance, and abused women entering registered women’s shelters. Like many folks who could really use the financial help, Valentino’s mom was reluctant to accept it; she did not want to deprive someone else that may need the funds more than herself. Her concern for others, was exactly the reason that she so deserved to benefit from this wonderful charity.
The driver paced the waiting room, brought his arm down on the front counter, “Can you hurry up?” he said.
“We’re doing our best.” was the honest reply, although I suppose it would have been most honest to say, No, we can’t hurry up. There is no room for impatience in death.
In the exam room, our ritual played out as we spoke of Valentino’s life – the recent insidious weight loss, the puddles of bloody fluid found around the house that morning, what a great companion he’d been, how many girlfriends he’d had … how many broken hearts he would leave behind. When it was over, Valentino’s mom left the room, the whisper of her wheelchair motor the only sound as she glided through the doorway like a gentle breeze.
The front door of the clinic closed on the end of another year. Two grieving women headed home, while the other three finished their day’s work. Our lives moving on in different directions, but forever bound together by a cat named Valentino.