We are family

My cat is sleeping in my lap. She is old, and I am worried about her. Usually I can’t get her off my lap, but tonight I had to nearly beg her to come. I found her on the street, 14 years ago. 14 years is a long time for a friendship to develop. We have a strange friendship. Me, unwavering devotion when I am at home, which is mostly in the evening. She, wanting attention, but only on her terms, and getting tired of it quickly, letting me know with teeth and claws. My husband is not a cat lover (to say things nicely) and looks at our relationship with uncomprehending eyes. How can you love her when she scratches and bites you? I don’t know the answer. No, I don’t like to be scratched and bitten. But I do love this cat. She is always in my way, always into my affairs, always sniffing my food. I don’t think she ever stole something from my plate (she may have tried). But she has to know. We are family. She is entitled.

It is a little bit like living in Israel. Israelis are said to be rude. They are said to be inquisitive, and impertinent, and sticking their noses in your private affairs. And there is some truth in that. A lady in the bus offers me the place next to her. She is eating a lot of little cookies while we are traveling home together. She tells me not to get up for another lady: ‘there is a lot of place in the bus’. The (probably self appointed) Leading Lady in the synagogue comes to bring me a prayerbook. She spots a young girl sitting next to me. She tells her to get up so an older lady can sit (the older lady refuses, says it isn’t necessary, but the Leading Lady continues to try to arrange things for her). When the bus door closes before I have time to get on, I shout ‘Wait!!!’ rather aggressively, and when the bus door closes before I have time to get off, we all shout ‘Driver!!!’. Whoever speaks timidly, says ‘please’ and ‘would it be possible’, gets ignored. When a young mother goes out with her baby she is sure to be told the baby is dressed too warmly for the time of year; and by somebody else that the baby is cold, and needs more clothes.

Some people are disturbed by that. I like to think it is the result of being a people. We are one big family. We are entitled. Indeed, we have to be involved in other people’s affairs. Otherwise, how would they know we cared?

I like to think my cat thinks the same. I just wish she wasn’t so old.



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