Losing a Friend

I generally and purposefully do not blog during the end of quarter sessions at work.  Mainly because I get so wrapped up in the craziness that I totally forget.  So instead of beating myself up for forgetting, I just started giving myself two weeks off at the end of every three month cycle. 

That appeared to be how this quarter was going to go down as well.  I didn’t even think once last week of taking the time to be eloquent.  I was too busy burning other candles at both ends.  Have you ever worked with sales people?  Then you know the drama with a capital “Holy Crap” that ensues whenever deadlines loom and approach.  Lots of hand-holding.  Lots of hurry up and waiting. 

And I would have totally been okay with a non-blog week. 

Except words keeps running through my head over and over – sort of pointing me to do some blogtherapy.

So. 

This is me avoiding.

If you know my family at all, you know we are huge animal lovers.  We’ve had all sorts of dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, turtles, ducks and who knows what else – I’m sure I’m missing some pet somewhere along the way.  But now matter how many animals you have – one thing never gets easier. 

Saying goodbye.

Now, in a way, I do think it can be a little less jarring when you are expecting it.  When you have a pet who is way up there in years or is sick or has become decrepit – it takes the teensiest sting out of it.  It really isn’t much, but it’s something.

But over the weekend – we lost one whom we weren’t expecting to lose.  And that just sucks.

The week was a great one actually.  My brother and nephew were visiting from Pennsylvania.  We had set up shop with my parents out at the lake.  We were a campsite full of people ~ plus three dogs and a cat. 

The cat, Putter, had recently made a return to campground life after taking a few years off for bad behavior.

But by week’s end – we’d lost him.  To what?  We don’t know.  Probably never will. 

Putter adopted us 12 years ago.  He was actually part of a ‘master plan’ in which Mom and Dad fulfilled my niece’s wish have her very own white cat.  Her birthday was going to coincide with a family visit and the perfectness of it got my mom’s mind ticking.  And so we were off to the local animal shelter to find a white cat.  We found Putter – tiny, white, playful…and with a bit of a runny nose.

It was pure coincidence that we had a camping trip scheduled on Putter’s first weekend at my parent’s house.  Surely they couldn’t leave a kitten home alone – so, much to my father’s dismay – we packed tiny Putter up and took him camping.

By weekend’s end…the cat was no longer for my niece.  Putter had taken up residence in my dad’s lap for the weekend and soon the question came….”Can we find another white cat for Jamie?”.

So luck struck for the first time in Putter’s life.  Because not 24 hours later – a neighbor with new kittens was knocking on the back door.  He was holding a white kitten and asking if we wanted it.  Fate won.  Jamie got her white kitten (if you are giving away a kitten, I recommend a gift bag rather than a box) and Putter got to stay in the Carolinas.

It didn’t take long to figure out why fate put Putter in my parents’ hands.  It had to do with their wallet and ability to afford him.  Evidently, upon arriving on earth, Putter heard loud and clear that cats have nine lives – and dang it if he wasn’t going to make sure he used each and every one of them.

I walked into the living room once just in time to catch him hanging himself from the blinds string.  Actually hanging.  Swinging back and forth style.

As a toddler cat – who was snuggled with Mom as she worked on a quilt – he swiped the needle and thread straight from her hand to his mouth.  Xrays showed them both in his belly – removed with surgery.  The twist here was that after having his belly shaved for surgery – the hair grew back orange.  Apparently, he wanted to try out different fur colors as part of his nine lives.

He spent much of his time as a young cat on cliffs.  He preferred to lay on the tops of doors.  Or peering down from the Grandfather Clock.  The only glitch was you never knew when he was going to use your body as a launch to reach these places.  If you spent anytime with Putter, it would end with scratches in strange places.

Later in life, again…just trying to help…he jumped onto a pan of frying bacon – toppling it straight onto his head.  Now we had a white cat who was slowly turning orange with singed ears. 

And so Putter went through life – living dangerously and on the edge. 

In his later years, some may have called Putter cranky.  He became a big-boned cat with an attitude to match his twenty or so pounds.  He’d lost his privileges on the camping circuit when he started removing his collar and spending most nights throwing himself against the door to get out of the camper.  He loved to be petted – until he was over it and would kindly let you know by latching his teeth into your arm – often drawing blood.

Not everyone could have handled Putter.  We could.  We love him faults and all.  And there was a lot of ‘all.’

Over the last year – my parents started spending more time in their camper and less time at home.  This meant Putter got to make visits to my house or receive visits from neighbors.  But then his camping privileges were given back – first on a trial basis and then permanently. 

He forgot about knocking on the door at all hours and got real content with being a camper cat.  He spent his days sleeping in one cupboard or another – always asking to be lifted to the higher spots instead of using our backs as a ladder.

And so he seemed to once again grab another life – this one with a new attitude.

We just never thought our time with it would be so short.  He seemed to just have a bit of a stomach bug ~ we’ve all had those nights…and if they made Pepto for cats we probably would have dosed him up and sent him back to the cupboard. 
But they don’t, so we didn’t.  Instead, Mom made the hike back home to leave him with the vet for the weekend – where he could get the medicine he needed and we could get a good night’s sleep.  Who knew?

Saturday he seemed to be doing well, according to the vet. 

And then he wasn’t. 
Then he suddenly a cat in need of oxygen and resuscitation. 
Then he suddenly became a cat who had run out of lives. 

We were floored.  We thought he was a jerk for dying. 

And then we remembered all the living he’d done.  How he went through all nine lives, checking them off, one by one ~ perhaps even knowing he’d spent them all.  How he was lucky enough to be thrown into a family who didn’t care that he grew bitchy or heavy or lazy.  How he skirted death time after time – and that only counts times we knew about. 

I know my dad was sad last night.  Lounging on the couch without his buddy. 
I know my mom will cringe the next time she opens a can of tuna and no one comes running.

But I also know how lucky Putter was to have adopted us.  And how lucky we were to have loved him.

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