Last weekend was my first trip home since being in Rome. It wasn’t just a pleasure visit, I had to see my dentist for some ongoing dental work. I had to have some bone removed that’s affecting my bite. A couple more visits before everything is done.
I could whine about the soreness or the stitches or the mushy food, but for now I’ll skip it.
While I was home, I got to say goodbye to one of our elder cats. I should preface this by saying that all the pets that were at home when I left for college have passed on now, but there are a few that I got close to anyway. One of these, Red, was a tough little character. Born nearly completely blind, he never would have survived on his own or in the out of doors. Despite his various physical limitations, he was never beaten. If he wanted attention, he’d climb whatever he had to and stand there head bobbing slightly as he attempted to focus on you. He’d stick out a paw. I’m not sure why, but my Dad had gotten him into the habit of “shaking hands” with people.
It was a far-cry from the kitten I first encountered. Unable to see, he feared being handled and wanted nothing to do with people. I was home for awhile, not sure if it was vacation or what, but I remember sitting on the floor with him for hours getting him accustomed to me until he would let me rub him. After that, he came to everyone he encountered having learned that people were good. At least everyone he’d ever encounter in his small world were nice to him.
At nearly 8 years old, he was a good deal older than he was ever given odds to live. He loved sunny spots in the kitchen and anytime that people took up with him. And he was even close to some of the other cats (a couple of others who are “special” like Red – my Mom is a soft touch). Considering how un-cat-like Red could be, that’s something. Cat’s who don’t see other cats don’t necessarily learn to interact the same way.
At any rate, at his age and health, he was also frail. He’d had several colds this year and a virus/infection finally took him. I knew while I was home that it could be anytime. I was honestly surprised Tuesday morning when he was still with us. At this point, only one of the other cats, Tadpole, stayed by him. And he,in fact, stayed to the end according to my Mom. I called this morning on the way to work, and Mom said he finally passed overnight. He was peaceful the last few days, but (and I hope it’s not disrespectful t say), he fought not unlike my grandmother and did not go gently. He held onto the last pieces of life with determination that I will always remember.
I’m glad I got to say bye and I know I’ll miss him eagerly pushing past the other cats for some attention when next I’m home…