Friday, July 27, 2007
Oscar, conductor of souls
I've been meaning all day to write about Oscar (see also previous post), but people keep doing extraordinary things and getting in the news, and by now Oscar is so famous that some hardened souls are already sick of him.
For the seven people who don't know this yet, Oscar is the resident cat at a Rhode Island nursing home whose attention to dying patients has accurately predicted 25 deaths in the last 12 months. Oscar does his daily rounds, checks on everyone, and if he senses a patient is not long for this world will leap up onto the bed, curl up next to the patient and stay until he or she has died. The nursing home now gets on the phone quick smart to the family if staff see Oscar curled up on someone's bed, and it has ensured that a lot of people have made it in time to say goodbye.
One little boy who asked why the cat was there was told by his (very sensible) mother that Oscar was there to help Grandma get to heaven, which immediately made me think of a word I adore but can rarely find an excuse to use: psychopomp.
There's something very comforting about the idea of a bit of help and guidance at the most mysterious moment of one's life. And if it turns out I have to go somewhere else after this life, I can't think of any guide -- either upwards or downwards -- I'd rather see leading the way than the steady, sturdy, purposeful padding of a moggy, serenely waving a feathery tail.