My first husband and I were divorcing. Between us we had 4 cats, all of whom we adopted together, all of whom would stay with me. After a few months of caring for them, returning to college full-time, and working part-time, it became quickly apparent that I couldn’t take care of them because I had very little money with which to feed them and take them to the vet.
So one day, my ex-husband and I met in the yard of the building in which I lived. We were standing outside, and it was time for me to make a very difficult decision: which 2 cats I was going to keep, and which 2 would go with him. I loved them all equally. Having to decide which 2 to “give away,” was utterly gut-wrenching. I finally decided on Valentine, who was deaf with all white fur, and Phoebe, who was a little, gray tabby. That left Hopper and Basil, a tuxedo cat and a Siamese, both of whom lived to be 17, with me.
I have no doubt that Valentine and Phoebe have crossed the Rainbow Bridge by now. This all happened over 20 years ago. I thought about them from time to time; I still do. Maybe all 4 of them have been reunited and are playing together once again. I’d like to think so.
What were family dinners like when you were growing up? Is there a special meal that has been handed down through the family?
Family dinners at my house were awkward. Around the table sat my parents, my mom’s parents, my dad’s mom, my parents, and me. (My younger brother and sister usually ate before we did.) My grandparents, all of whom lived with us, sat at one end of the table saying pretty much nothing, while my parents sat on the other end loudly arguing over anything and everything. I sat at the middle of the table, mostly invisible.
That was the only interaction at dinner. My parents fighting. Occasionally I would be asked about something or other, like had I finished my homework, did I change the baby’s diaper that my mom asked me to do, did I drink all the orange juice. These questions were fired at me in accusatory tones, as if I was already deemed guilty about whatever it is they asked about.
I didn’t have to ask to be excused from the table and anyway, I was always the last one done. Everyone else just left whenever they were finished.
Although I don’t have fond memories of sharing meals with my family, I have a more positive experience eating with my husband’s family. No one treats me like I’m invisible, and they actually speak to one another, myself included.
I have 2 cats: Hee Seop (HEE-sop) and Angelo, and both are old. Or I should say that I had 2 cats, since one of them, Hee Seop (pictured here), died last Wednesday evening.
Granted, both cats are almost 18 years old, so part of me expected this, just not so soon. Hee Seop had a low appetite about a month ago, but a trip to the vet and some medication helped.
Since then, he hung out in all of the rooms, not just the bedroom where he and Angelo usually sleep all day. Hee Seop sat in my lap on the sofa, or lay next to my husband on the love seat. He didn’t care if the dog was there or not. He wasn’t afraid of Rudy, anyway.
For months he lay next to my head on my pillow overnight. I used to bury my face in his soft fur. I didn’t give voice to it at the time, but all his affection and spending more time in the living room with my husband and me — I was afraid that Hee Seop was saying goodbye.
Then last Wednesday I was sitting at my desk. I could feel him beneath my chair, walking over its legs that spread out like a spider’s and has wheels on the ends. I thought he was going to sleep in the dog’s bed under my desk, but I heard some weird noises that turned out to be Hee Seop struggling to get out from underneath the chair. His body looked a little odd, and when I saw him move a little, I noticed that his back legs were paralyzed. We took him to the emergency vet immediately.
On the way there, we both mentioned how scared we were that we wouldn’t come home with him. Meanwhile, he was panting and crying very loudly in the back seat. I didn’t know if he was in pain, protesting being in the carrier, or what.
We weren’t at the vet long. The doctor told us that he had a blood clot in his heart. A piece of it broke off and got lodged in his abdomen and blocked the blood supply to his legs, which is why they gave out. I think it’s called a saddle thrombus, and is extremely painful. Fortunately, the vet gave him a pain reliever.
We discussed the prognosis, which the veterinarian said was poor, especially because Hee Seop also had congestive heart failure. They could treat him, but the end result would have been the same as having him humanely euthanized. We chose the latter because we didn’t want to prolong his pain and discomfort.
I’m extremely sad, because Hee Seop was with us since he was a year old. He was a feral cat that showed up on our back porch looking for food, and that I socialized into a tame (but skittish) cat. He isn’t the first cat we needed to have put to sleep. Two others were before him. But it doesn’t get easier. I’m not depressed, which is a good thing. But I think about him a lot.
I’m back from my trip to Manchester, Iowa, where my husband, dog, and I visited my in-laws. There are only 5 traffic lights, and I saw cows on a farm about a block away from my in-laws’ house. Despite being a small town (population approximately 5,000), my mother-in-law and I found lots of things to do.
We went to a movie on Sunday night, and then to another Tuesday afternoon. She took me to the quilt shop where she works and introduced me to the owner. (My mother-in-law makes beautiful quilts — see picture.) She taught me how to do the purl stitch. We went window shopping in the small, downtown area, and worked on a jigsaw puzzle. My husband, meanwhile, stayed at home and hung out with his dad. It was a relaxing trip, but it’s also nice to be home.