Love is… Mum and Melly
Samantha Marsh – Founder of Tigga Towers Ltd
In January 2018 I moved back to my mother’s house with Santos, Belle and Melly. At 47 years old it was a decision that was not easy but at the time was the ‘sensible’ one. A story for another day perhaps!
The move was never going to be easy on my gang as many know we had moved from Byfleet to Reigate for 18 months and just as they were beginning to settle, I packed them all up and off we went again.
To add to the chaos Mum has a dog called Coco – She is very easy going and not a young dog, so I was not so worried about her reaction as she had lived with Maine Coons most of her life. It was more a question of how the cats were going to cope.
Two years on it has been interesting to watch the relationships develop over time. But the most interesting one has been mum’s relationship with the cats, in particular Melly.
Mum is 69 years old and was married to Dad for 48 years when we lost him in 2016. Mum has always had animals in her life and in her younger years was a keen horse woman. She competed across many international competitions including a number of qualifiers for the Olympic team in the US. She is born and bred Bermudian and I know if she had the chance she would be on a plane faster than you could say Dark & Stormy (good old Bermuda Rum + Ginger Beer) to return to her home roots.
In 2011 she was diagnosed with MS after a number of mystery illnesses culminating in the loss of the use of her legs one morning. This particular type is relapsing and remittance MS which I do not totally understand however, the one thing I do know is she is lucky it was much later in life and seems to have settled with less ‘attacks’ or ‘episodes’ as they call them. Mum had been free of medication since 2016 and free of attacks since 2015 until late July / August last year. For some reason she had a relapse that took her back into hospital for a number of days and visits to various specialists with physio to help get her back driving and on her feet again.
Another increasing issue (possibly a side effect of MS) is Mum’s memory and her diagnosis of depression in 2019 which came as no surprise to the family after the last three years. A lot for anyone in good health let alone someone who has lost their life partner and the children are all grown up and left home!
Personally, I find this aspect challenging as I can not put into words now how it affects life on an almost daily basis. When thinking about our blog for this month and the obvious title for ‘love’ and pets, this piece came to mind. I wonder now as I type the words how many of you have a similar tale to tell or perhaps you are ‘mum’ and your pet is your companion and company.
I began to realise the bond that had formed with mum and Melly on her return home. It came to light in hospital as the one thing she focused on with continuous questions was how the cats were and in particular, how Melly was.
Mum is not as active these days and needs an aid to walk any distance. The stairs in the house have come increasingly challenging. She tends to spend a lot of time home in the lounge watching TV or playing games on her iPad. Melly is what I would call flighty for want of a better word. She completely ‘freaks’ when a hoover is simply brought out for the weekly clean. Pete can move to wipe down a counter top and suddenly she has shot from where ever she was residing giving us a heart attack in the process.
Maine Coons are known for tripping you up – Especially on stairs as they love to circle around your feet with that enormous tail getting in the way. None of the cats do this around mum. They either dart down the stairs before she begins the ascent or race to the top to peer through the bannisters whilst she climbs step by step.
These days, Melly can be found next to mum snuggled up beside her and sometimes to my amazement (Maine Coons are not known to be lap cats) even on her lap!
Early morning, lunch time or late evening you can be sure if she is not out hunting for a present for mum then she is right beside her.
The only time Melly does not take up her usual residence is when Santos sneaks in first and takes over the sofa. Then you notice the Maine Coon death stare from afar until he decides he had better move and comes to make a nuisance of him self between Pete and I.
Mum talks to Melly and I am pretty certain Melly talks to her. She adores having her belly rubbed and watching from afar and I have noticed how mum manages to use her fingers to work any knots lose.
Whilst I type this in the office I can hear Mum telling Santos off for sitting in front of the TV – That is most definitely a Maine Coon trait ?
I guess for mum at times after such a busy life, Melly and the others are now her companions.
Melly has obviously worked this out but equally she knows when things are not quite right. In fact I am sure she has realised mum needs to do more exercise. You might wonder how I know this. For some reason she has developed a habit of knocking at the patio doors and then running off. She wants to come in but I have tried to encourage them to come in via the back door. So as soon as mum gets up she races off and then returns to the back door.
Another sweet trait is her bedtime routine. Mellys not mums! She begins around 10pm pacing around and about 30 mins before mum heads up she will have settled outside Mums room in her Tigga Tower doughnut bed. There she resides all night until the early hours.
The only time I see Melly now is in the mornings when I wake and she comes for her Sam cuddles. As soon as mum rises she is off chattering away to her.
It is obvious to us all, Mum has become attached to Melly – Not that she admits it and I am mindful of what happens when we move away later in 2020. I can see there is a bond and I have no wish to upset that.
I am extremely mindful of how mum will cope knowing what lies ahead of her. The future is tough with her memory deteriorating all the time. It is little things now and very much short term based. But what do we do as it worsens? I know Melly and Coco and the cats are her companions and once we leave she has Coco but for how long.
Do we look for an older cat to fit in and keep her company but then how will Melly cope when we move. It is at times like this I wish cats had a voice. It will be down to me to decide the best move when we leave.
Love arrives in the most unexpected way and in all forms. I have watched mum become attached to the cats and in particular to Melly. The feelings are mutual and present them selves almost child like at times. From simple conversation that take place to mum absently stroking her whilst seemingly staring into space. A vision that tells me she is slipping away from us slowly but surely mentally yet a movement from Melly will bring her back to reality quicker than a prompt from me.
Love is Mum & Melly.