looked at the quarter-mile track and sighed. The white
lane-lines were freshly painted and seemed to mock me. Surely
they were there for real runners, not someone like me. I had
recently undergone back surgery, and the asphalt oval that
loomed before me seemed like an almost impossible distance to
navigate, My intention had been to start out walking on the
track, then attempt to run slowly for a short distance. My
resolve wavered for a moment. Maybe I should reconsider, Maybe I
should wait and try this another day. "Meooowwww mmmurrrrnr!"
I looked down at the source of the comment and smiled, Mesha,
my tiny companion, was looking up at me expectantly. She has
always been a talkative cat and today was no exception. I made
up my mind that I'd try to exercise this morning. After all, I
didn't want to disappoint Mesha.
Mesha is of questionable Siamese extraction, and although she
is getting on in years, she still seems as spry as ever. Only
the fur on one of her back paws shows a tell-tale sign she is
aging, for the once-dark-velvet-brown color has faded to a pale
gray. Yet her blue eyes are still bright, she still plays like a
kitten every night, and she is as vocal as ever, commenting when
it suits her upon anything she deems important. And, as it
happens, many things seem important to Mesha.
Her frequently expressed opinions are in effusive
kitty-speak, and I am convinced she believes I should understand
every single word she meows. In fact, she seems mystified if I
don't grasp her meaning. When that happens, she will repeat
herself in yowling kitty-speak, getting progressively louder and
louder until she makes me understand—or
until she gets so exasperated she falls silent.
Though her pedigree may be in question, her loyalty, love and
sweet temperament are not. She proved that during the time I was
in excruciating pain before back surgery, and again when I had
to endure weeks of painful rehabilitation. Part of the
rehabilitation included being prone on my sofa for hours each
day while I was in traction. This went on day after day, week
after week. And every day, during those long hours, little Mesha
was my constant, caring companion.
Each day, after I was settled on the sofa, she would
carefully climb onto my stomach, then lie down facing me. After
tucking her petite brown paws neatly under her slender body she
would gaze intently at my face for long periods of time. If she
saw tears rolling down my face, due to the pain I was in, she
would stretch out one dainty paw toward rny cheek in a tender
gesture of comfort, then try to console me with her expressive
kitty-speak meows. Day after day this was repeated. I would cry,
then she would reach out her delicate paw and kitty-speak. She
would then pause, waiting quietly for me to unburden myself. I
would stroke her silky fur and tell her my troubles as she
listened attentively. Sometimes the expression on her face was
so clearly perplexed, her little brow was wrinkled with such
worry, and her gaze was so clearly concerned that I found myself
smiling even as tears poured down my face.
I would then reassure her I was going to be okay—though at
times I admit I had my doubts. We used to be carefree and have
great fun before this, Mesha used to enjoy watching rne hit the
tiny square things on my keyboard as we both sat close to my
computer; she on top and I in front. And she took great delight
in bursting the silence with one boisterous, kitty-speak "MEEEEOOWWWHH"
every so often. It
was her task to startle me and my role to jump, and we both
did our parts well, Mesha used to adore going for a ride in my
car when I had errands to do and she loved going on walks with
me. And sometimes, during the walk, we'd run together just for
fun. She had her very own special harness and leash, as well as
a pretty blue collar that matched the deep cerulean of her eyes.
Whenever she wanted to go outside with me she would go to the
cabinet and stare pointedly at the drawer where they were kept.
If I didn't notice her immediately, she would begin her chorus
of kitty-speak, the volume rising steadily until I responded,
But since I had been injured, she had not shown any interest in
going anywhere or doing any of the things we once did. I believe
she thought it was her loving duty to keep me company, a duty
she did willingly.
Time is a great healer of the body and as the days went by my
tears were more infrequent as the pain diminished. I was getting
better. And as I got better, Mesha decided I needed to be doing
more than just resting all the time. I was still reluctant to
walk more than a few steps, but Mesha seemed to understand that
it was time to get me moving again. And she contrived a simple
yet unique solution that was guaranteed to make me start
One morning Mesha put her plan into action. Instead of
joining me where I lay on the sofa, Mesha walked through the
living room, glanced meaningfully in rny direction, then headed
toward the back porch. Once there, she started calling me. "Meooowhaa
Murhhh." Which meant "Oh-do-come-look-at-this!" in
kitty-speak, I answered by calling her to me. I did not want to
get up and attempt to walk to where she was.
The house was silent for a moment. Then she called me again
in a more insistent voice. "Maeeooooowwwhwwwwhh!" she
said loudly. I knew that tone. It was "I-said-to-come-HERE,"
in kitty-speak. I still wasn't about to get up and so I called
her again. "I don't want to get up Mesha, so come back here,
sweetie, and rest with me."
Mesha, however, has a stubborn streak. And she wasn't about
to give in, no matter how pleasantly i spoke to her. A moment
later she started to call me again, and this time she pulled out
all the stops! Let me tell you something: a full-volume Siamese
caterwaul is not a sound any hearing individual can ignore for
"MMMMMMMOOOOOOOWWWUUUUURRRRRRHH!" Mesha's long,
piercing, emphatic yowl, equivalent to the banshee wail of a
bagpipe being stomped on by an elephant—a very large
elephant—couldn't have been more disconcerting! It was
impossible to ignore.
I could stand it no longer! She clearly wanted me to corne to
where she was. "Oh, all right, Mesha,"! grumbled to her. "I'll
come out." Hearing that, Mesha suddenly fell silent. I got up
slowly, wrapped my old bathrobe about me and took small,
tentative steps as I made my way cautiously toward her. She
stared up at me as I entered the room. "Meeeoooowwh-muuhhh,"
she said in soft-kitty-speak. That translated roughly into “I'm-so-glad-to-see-you-but-it's-about-time.”
Her blue eyes were full of glee. My annoyance quickly changed to
mirth. How could I possibly stay annoyed at Mesha?
I sat down in a chair and Mesha immediately jumped up onto my
lap. She chortled to me happily as she settled down, I had
forgotten how much I loved being in this room. It had always
been a special place, a comfort to rne. My back porch is a
lovely, bright room built with large windows on three sides.
Sunlight streams in each morning and warms the two cozy
over-stuffed chairs that face the windows. From here, I have a
splendid view of the mountain and woods, and there is usually
some type of wildlife within view. Yet I had not ventured out
here in many months. The living-room sofa was an easier walk
from my bedroom and until Mesha intervened, I had no intention
of walking farther than I had to.
She was now on a mission, it seemed, for the next day she
wanted to take a walk down to the mailbox. She stood by the
cabinet that held her leash and harness and stared at me. "Meeooouuuuhhhh?"
I decided I would take a little walk with her. How could I
say no? After all, how could I disappoint her after she had been
so devoted to me? I put the pretty blue collar and harness on
her, then attached her leash.
Off we went down the long driveway. It has a fairly steep
grade to it. Going down was easier than I had imagined it would
be, but the walk back was difficult and extremely tiring. I had
to stop and rest often. Each time I stopped, Mesha would stand
by my side, her long elegant tail swaying gently back and forth
as she patiently waited for me to recover. She spoke to me in
kitty-speak each time we stopped and I wondered if perhaps she
was trying to encourage me to keep going.
As if she read my rnind the moment I entertained such an
idea, she loudly proclaimed an emphatic "Muuurrroooohhh!"
We finally made it back to the house and though I was tired, my
spirits were lifted. After I removed her harness I collapsed
onto the sofa, tired yet pleased at the progress I was making.
Mesha jumped up to where I was, then gave me a sweet kiss on
the tip of my nose as she often did when she wanted to express
great affection. She then added a comment: "Mrnmmuuurrrrrrhhhh!"
I'm sure that meant "Congratulations!" in kitty-speak.
Each day the same walk was repeated, and each day I was able
to stay off the sofa for longer periods of time. As I grew
stronger, Mesha wanted to do more activities. One day she
decided it was time for a car ride. She explained in loud
kitty-speak that the walk up and down the driveway wasn't
enough. We had just returned to the house from a walk when she
went over to my purse and started pawing at it. I wondered what
she was doing. I should have known, as she had done this sort of
thing before. After a few minutes of thrusting her paws into the
depths of the purse, she pulled out her prize, my car keys. She
then looked at me and yowled as if her heart would break. I knew
exactly what she had on her mind. She wanted to go "bye-bye." I
sighed, then picked up the keys. "Okay, Mesha, we'll go bye-bye,
but just a short distance." It had been a very long time since I
had driven a car. Perhaps Mesha was right. Perhaps today was a
good day to go on a short drive.
I carried Mesha to the car and we got in. I had to admit it
was an excellent idea, after all. As I drove down the driveway,
I noticed Mesha looked perfectly pleased with herself as she
curled up on the seat next to me. Her objective had been
achieved. We were going for a drive. It was wonderful to be able
to do this again and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So did Mesha.
This "bye-bye" routine repeated itself often over the next
few weeks. With all the exercise I was now getting, the idea
started to form in my mind that maybe, just maybe, I could start
running again sometime. Which brings me back to the start of
this story, back to the morning Mesha and I were standing on the
It was time to begin. Time to try. I took a deep breath and
said, "Okay, Mesha, I'm ready if you are." Mesha peered intently
into my eyes, then replied, "Murrr-oeooo! Mewouhha! Maahhhh!"
I knew exactly what she had just spoken in kitty-speak: she was
ready to start.
I began walking slowly in my lane. Mesha started walking in
the lane next to me. Mesha has been on many adventures with me
and this was just one more as far as she was concerned. Nothing
odd here. It seemed perfectly natural to her that she should be
walking next to her human companion on a deserted high-school
track. I was so focused on watching Mesha that I forgot for a
moment how impossible this very act of walking had seemed not
too long ago. I was soon ready to attempt a few minutes of
"Come on, Mesha, let's go faster." I started to run slowly
and Mesha began trotting along in the lane next to me. She
apparently had no intention of stopping. She seemed to be having
a great time and I found myself laughing and talking to her as
she trotted along next to me. She never strayed into my lane and
every once in a while she would glance up at me and add her
kitty-speak-comments. I made it around the track once that day
with Mesha, walking most of the time and running slowly a few
Since then, I was able to compete in many running events,
including two marathons. And after each one, as soon as I get
home, I scoop Mesha up in my arms and tell her how much I missed
her. She always answers, "MMUURRHHMM," which means, in
kitty-speak, "I missed you, too."