Back in the summer my mother wound up rescuing a kitten stuck in some brambles behind the local senior center. Although it wore a collar, efforts to locate the owner failed. The kitten limped, although there were no apparent broken bones or wounds, and was very passive. My mother took the kitten home despite her misgivings and then to the veterinarian. The vet told her the kitten had a neurological disorder -- probably the result of the kitten's mother ingesting pesticide while pregnant -- and would not live long. He suggested they put it to sleep.
My mother decided to take it home and see what happened. The vet gave it shots and some pills to help get rid of fleas. For months my mother fed, cuddled and cared for the kitten. She couldn't come up with a name and just called it a sweet thing for so long that Sweet Thing became its name.
Sweet Thing never grew much, never moved much, just came over and lay beside my mother on the couch and stared for hours. My mother was convinced that she slept with her eyes open. The one good thing was that from the very beginning, she used the litter box.
A week or so back, though, Sweet Thing began to wet her bed. She became more incontinent and finally quit eating even the little bit of food she usually took. A few days ago, my mother took her to the vet and said goodbye.
I reminded my mother that my friend Lee had said that no matter what happened, she had done a good thing. She had taken Sweet Thing and given her a home, warmth, food and love for the few months of her life. And Sweet Thing had brought something to her as well, a bit of life and warmth, amusement and distraction to her days.
I happened across the quote from Freud today. It seems to fit.
PS -- The girl in my novel has a cat named Sweet Thing so that the memory of Mama's kitten will live on.