A cat’s viewpoint

It was as I was writing a story about a cat that I discovered the beauty of J’s life. Or perhaps it was the wrong toilet that did it.

From the beginning. I met J a year ago. J is Austen’s son. Diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, he’s great young guy, with a lovely personality. My wife and I left Austen’s home wondering whether J gets more out of life than many people.

That, and reading posts on this website, is the limit of my exposure to Down’s Syndrome. Until recently that made so cautious that I barely dared comment on the website. Then a fortnight ago, a post caught my attention. Inappropriate Toilet Use. It is one of Austen’s honest open accounts that are gems on this site. (See all via From the heart.) I read them and think of the parents struggling with the realities of their child, and grabbing in silent relief at the morsels of comfort to know it’s not just them who suffer.

Me? I write. It’s my passion, not my career. Some of the writing is fictional, some are true stories written much like fiction, and some are blogs. My focus is entrepreneurs: crazy, dangerous, and often misguided. But that’s a million miles away from Down’s Syndrome.

For reasons explained elsewhere, I also blog on behalf of a cat. Millou has trouble working keyboards, so I do the technology bit on her behalf, but the stories of her life are hers. As far as I can work out, they are truthful. (See Millou’s Blog.)

Writing on behalf of Millou is difficult. She knows only the world immediately around her. She communicates in a fashion with humans and other cats, but the quality of the communication is highly limited. Her memory is very clear on some things, but fuzzy on others. And she has a wonderful trust of my wife and I, although that may be because of what happened when she was one month old (see Abandoned).

And that’s where I noticed the similarity with J. He has his own way of looking at the world. His learning by communication is limited and distorted compared to us, but that doesn’t make it wrong. When he figured that the point of a toilet was for shitting, and promptly used one in a DIY store, he reminded me of Millou’s innocence. (Inappropriate Toilet Use, as above.)

Millou taught me to see the world differently. She taught me to observe, for the world’s simple joys and fears. And she taught me to laugh at the foolishness of our complex theories and preconceptions. Maybe people like J can do the same for others. It’s a special gift.

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