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Lucy’s Story

Her story from 1999-2002

The “Lucky” black cat came to live at BrightHaven with her friends “Squeaky” and “Fuzzy” in October of 1999. Then 16 years old, she was the baby of the group and treated accordingly by her elderly brothers. The group had lived for many years as part of a large family in the care of a loving rescue lady. This person fell upon hard times and lost her home…an all too familiar story in these times!

We quickly realized that these three were somewhat embarrassed by their names and set about choosing new ones for them. Lucy clearly loved hers from the first moment, and responded to it immediately, as did Frazier and Sidney.

Lucy was a large, asthmatic and very nervous girl, who always hid behind the boys when approached by humans. She was very shy, but gradually settled into her new life, first living with her brothers in the BH office, as she was very scared of other cats, and would collapse in an asthma attack during her panic. Sid and Frazier were both very outgoing and soon were exploring the entire house, but it was some months before Lucy plucked up the courage to venture out of her safe room. Initially she became very frightened and aggressive with the other residents, especially as she soon discovered she had to share her new house with several dogs!! At this time Lucy found her voice and started conversing with anyone and everyone in her path—humans preferably. She fast became a very popular girl with our volunteers who enjoyed chatting with her whilst she also became ecstatic to be groomed.

All went well for Lucy until her world fell apart when BrightHaven moved to Northern California in December of 2000 and she was forced to face a whole new world for the next time in her life. She quickly became an under the bed recluse, only coming out with the family in the early morning or late evening when she was “safe” from her demons.

Now, two years later in 2002, we are lucky to have acquired some wonderful volunteers, devoted to coaxing some of our more fearful cats out of their shyness, and are delighted to see Lucy has finally moved into the kitchen area where she is often to be found awaiting the next person who might wish to listen to her tales! Apart from her somewhat plump and matronly figure (!!), and just a little wheezing, Lucy looks and feels wonderful as she approaches her second decade with new found confidence. Sidney and Frazier too, are both still very much with us, now in their late twenties and it is thrilling to see the family enjoying this new found happiness.

–August 2002

Her story from 2002- 2009

Dear Lucy is clearly approaching the end of her days with us, and I have been avoiding writing of her journey for some weeks…

As I began today, I realized that I last wrote of sweet Lucy back in 2002. My!!—How time has flown by since then! Where to begin I wonder?

Maybe with the many pet names by which she has become known during her life here with us… The one I love the best is Lucy Nightingale, but then there are my silly ones like Lucy Locket, Luce, or Lulu, Luloose or maybe my silliest nicknames ever—Lucy-Goosey or The Loose Goose!

Mother goose may be more appropriate for this girl, now turned woman, as her maturity brought with it the love for her fellow beings and the desire to do nothing more than love and care for them…but more of her younger days for the moment…

Back in 2002, when my story begins with Lucy at a young 19 years, she was a vastly different girl, best described perhaps by such adjectives as severely asthmatic, fearful, timid, shy, sweet, loving, hiding….and many more. My recollections of Lucy as we moved to Northern California are somewhat hazy as she was such a loner back then—loving interaction with both animals and people, but only ever on a one- on-one level. Much of her time was spent in her bed in the kitchen island—a wonderful place that housed many beds—each with its own entrance and security. From there she could observe the daily comings and goings without being seen…

When the weather was good she was often to be found out in the garden—caring for her older brother Sidney, who was approaching the end of his days—his middle twenties passed by and Sid was simply tired. Lucy rarely left his side towards the end.

That year was to herald big changes for Lucy, as her asthma worsened, but happily, Dr Barbara Fishelson began her homeopathic care, and we soon saw a gradual improvement in her health, as well as confidence.

Lucy was in for another big shock in 2004 when we moved house yet again, only this time it seemed to have a very different effect on her, for, instead of hiding and being sad and lonely—she officially came out of her shell and took up residence in the kitchen—on the countertop for the first time ever! She proceeded to join “La Crème” of BrightHaven society to reside in full view of the world in a prestigious kitchen basket! This was a new Lucy for sure and we were all thrilled to see her new found confidence and “Joy de Vie”—perhaps in celebration of her second decade, and a time to throw caution to the wind and join “The Purple Hat brigade”.

It was around that time that Jackie, the cat, began her dying process and Lucy showed us her “reason for being”. She moved into Jackie’s bed with her and stayed put for many weeks until Jackie left, and from that day on she has been one of our chief hospice workers!

Whenever anyone is approaching their end of lifetime, or is simply feeling unwell, then you can be sure that Lucy has been around to offer love and comfort. Her own support team changed last year, as our wonderful Dr Todd Webster became Lucy’s vet, taking over from his good friend Barbara, who was making a career change. The last few years have proved so great for Lucy’s continued good health that it was not until recently that I even remembered her as being such a severe asthmatic!

Heading into her middle twenties, Lucy teamed up with dear Charlie-girl last year to form a wonderful care taking team, until Charlie’s own demise. Of course Lucy remained with her until the end.

The photographs we have of Lucy cuddling, or being cuddled by others, are numerous and only a few of my favorites can be shown here, but some would love to be sure their names are given mention and so here goes with a short list of Lucy’s friends, past and present: starting of course with older brothers Frazier and Sidney, and then on to those past: Gingi, Barney, Tina, Romeo, Trevor, Nigel, Marley, George, Maisie, Woody, Dafne-Ann, Eric, Ollie, Patti and Beauregard are just a few.

More than a month ago Lucy’s breathing became faster, deeper and more labored and we feared she would soon pass, but in the grand tradition to which we have grown accustomed, Lucy is still with us and we are honored to be allowed to be a part of the slow journey to the end of her life—a time spent in love with her friends.

These days Lucy can be found close with a new group, all caring for each other. There is Blue, Oliver, Stefanie, SuzyQ, Sammi and always close by—Anubis, the Basenji girl who finds herself drawn to the gathering for the love she needs. Sammi is the youngster of the group, and the one it seems being groomed for, and destined to take over Lucy’s job.

By night the group has a new member—me!! We all pile together on the blow up bed, joined by Vancouver, who spends his entire night wrapped around some part of Lucy’s body, which is always in my arms—and under the bedspread!! I am still hoping to snatch a photo of this extraordinary affaire.

How much time Lucy has, we cannot know, but with Dr Todd’s loving help and our constant vigil, we know it will be a time spent in love. For now life goes on…and for Lucy that means enjoying an extra saucer of milk or plate of her favorite raw liver, chopped very finely, and above all, it means a time to relax and enjoy her friends and allow them to care for her, in love.

–January 7th 2009

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