Epitomizing the expression “one-two punch,” Rex’s nominal owner, Madame BOF’s middle-school friend Diane Robinson, died today of a heart attack at 49, making our permanent custodianship of Foster Rat #3 official. Her decades of health problems–encompassing some 70 allergies (at least half of them to various foods, which made dining out with her a unique experience), legal blindness, diabetes and, most recently, a failed kidney transplant–are well beyond the scope of this post, if not the entire blog. But after pronouncing poor Mina’s death sentence yesterday, we received word that Diane, too, was on her last legs, and before doing our best to welcome my Mom for her birthday dinner, we decided to visit Diane at Danbury Hospital, where my daughter was born; we’re certainly glad we did.
Convinced that the bed and then the chair provided in her room were exacerbating her allergies, the increasingly irrational Diane (who tended toward the misanthropic and paranoid at the best of times) insisted on having the bed removed and inhabiting the floor. When we arrived, she had recently received the Last Rites from the hospital chaplain and was surrounded by a semicircle of her long-suffering parents–whom she constantly harangued and accused of trying to browbeat her–sister, niece, and nephew. Diane believed that if she could get certain foods they did not provide, she might get strong enough to have her catheter replaced and resume dialysis, so before leaving, we ran to the supermarket and brought back what she’d asked for, but obviously by today, her poor tortured body had simply had enough and gave up.
As long as I can remember, Diane (whom I met when Madame BOF and I became friends in high school) had had a series of rodents as pets, and after the last one died of cancer, she naturally wanted to do what she always did, and get another one right away. My wife advised against it, since at that point she was in between increasingly frequent periods of hospitalization, but Diane’s tears persuaded Loreen, who would do anything for a friend, not only to take her to the pet store to buy Rex (earmarked as snake food), but also to board him until the time was right for him to go “home,” which it clearly never was. For weeks, we had believed that Mina’s irregular eating was due at least in part to Rex’s presence increasing her sister’s innate aggression, making Lucy intimidate her, and were desperate to relieve ourselves of the otherwise inoffensive creature, but now that the causes of Mina’s problems are irrelevant, it no longer matters.
Final score: Rats 1, People/Cats/Snakes 0.