This has been a year of goodbyes, most expected and welcomed — I mean, I’m going to miss older son and his wife, but it was time for them to fly on their own — some expected but not welcomed — Euclid was at least a year old when we got him in November 2000, so we knew the time was coming — and some of them sock your gut out of the blue, like losing our car one fine Saturday afternoon, with no warning because a gasket seems to have disappeared.
Notice I include the car, not because I think it’s animated — though one wonders sometimes, if some object that’s been really close to us for most of our life partakes some bit of the things it participated in — but because their loss or change over disrupts our basic pattern of life.
The first for us was the loss of the car — Old Blue — my birthday gift for my 35th birthday, back then an almost-new (almost for sure corporate fleet) blue expedition, which saw us from the-kids-in-car-seats to the kids rarely riding it, because they have their own cars and lives. Which transported construction materials we should never have put in it, carried the fragiles through three moves, served us on weekend trips, and generally was as much a part of the Hoyt family as our pets.
Yes, we knew a 20 something year old car would go soon. We were hoping for another year. Or some warning. Or something. Instead, it stopped on the highway on the way to downtown Denver, and was suddenly empty of oil. Starting it to move it to the side finished killing the engine.
We got some trade-in value when buying the new one, and as it was being taken away, the lines from the Cohen song “And now you’re gone, and now you’re gone, as if there never was a you” ran through my head. Which surprised me, as did experiencing grief at the loss of a car.
But of course, it wasn’t the car. It was the loss of a bit of the kids’ growing up, and my memories. You see, we move so much, that that car had most of the continuous memories of our raising the kids.
Even now, four months later, I look for it in the parking lot, before I go “Oh, right. Not that car anymore.”
Someone asked why we’re so fond of Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax which is, granted, just a greasy spoon. Well. Mostly because it’s another place where the memories of our life with the boys are unbroken. (Another place used to be the Embassy Suites in the tech center (because cheap on weekends) which younger son thought was “our house in Denver” when we lived in the Springs. We still do the occasional writing weekend there, or did, up to 2 years ago, but they’ve remodeled and changed where stuff is in the common areas, so not the same at all.)
Then son moved away, and I can’t begin to say how happy I am for them. But it’s disruptive to a certain way of life. Partly because the kids lingered so much, and because we LIKE them as adults, that they’re part of the pattern or our daily lives. So, you know, when I hit a plotting/story snag, I’d tell older son we needed to go for a midnight coffee at Pete’s. The drive (used to be an hour and a half from the springs. From where we are now more like 20 minutes, which meant we lingered longer at the restaurant.) Same as for reasons hard to describe, we got in the habit of going to the zoo when it was cold and rainy.
DIL was ridiculously indulgent of this, but of course, that’s gone. And new habits will have to come in in its place. The fact that we couldn’t do “one last” as a goodbye and for old times’ sake, due to the ridiculous lockdown doesn’t help.
And yesterday we faced the fact something had to be done about poor Euclid.
To explain: about a year and a half ago, he became incontinent, or at least too impatient to get to the box. When I got to the point I couldn’t live with it, we put him in a multi-level cage (like a boarding cage, with levels.) For a while that worked well, and we took him out and petted him a lot, usually while watching a british mystery or reading in the evening.
Then he seemed not to like being held as much, and we went to diapering him, and letting him roam. VERY slowly.
He had bad arthritis, but the pain meds didn’t seem to dent it, so I mostly didn’t give them to him. He also had hyperthyroidism, which we controlled with meds, which had increased to double recently. And yet, he was eating every hour, and still rail-thin.
I kept hoping he’d go in his sleep, but we weren’t that lucky. And yet I hesitated to take him in for that last, sad trip, because he was still somewhat self aware, at least in flashes. And he enjoyed toddling around in his diaper, coming up to rest his paws on my arm.
And I hate deciding this for them, without knowing if it’s what they’d choose. I can well imagine being that age, and just relishing each day, and people thinking I want to go.
What made it worse is that Euclid was the most…. submissive? Compliant? Cat we’ve ever had. We used to call him “The totally surrendered cat” so I was afraid of taking advantage of his good will, one way of another.
But he’d been crying in the night, for a long time. And there was PAIN in his eyes, if you know what I mean.
Last week, he just started peeing on EVERY shelf in his little cage. Even though the box was RIGHT THERE. I was cleaning those shelves twice a day. Worse, he’d pee on his little sleeping blanket, and then sleep on it.
I had a long talk with the vet, and without pushing, she did her best to imply it was time. She said it was time six months ago.
Yesterday, I still tried to balk it. And then I WATCHED him pee on his food. And then eat it. And I realized he was demented, for whatever that means for cats. And so we kept that awful appointment.
And those lines went through my head again “And now you’re gone….”
So, because I’m afraid of forgetting, I thought I’d write some things about Euclid. Because there was a Euclid, and it’s important to remember. Because he was part of us, and us of him. Also he’s the only cat we ever acquired through psychic control on his part….
So November 2000, for younger son’s 6th birthday, we took him out to a movie. We left our cat, Pete, on the front porch, sunning himself on a blanket. We knew he wasn’t going anywhere, because he was extremely hyperthyroidal. We were letting him get the meds out of his system and were scheduled to take him in for radio iodine therapy.
We came home and he was gone. After three days of searching, we found a neighbor (which the vet refused to identify) had taken him to a vet and had him euthanized. He was 13, and the first cat we lost.
During the search we’d gone to the humane society and saw a cat who looked just like him from the back. From the front, he was more apple headed and had the most amazing green-blue eyes.
Dan had seen him and — because we were not wise to the ways of the humane society — though he had an owner and would be picked up (the cage said “Not available for adoption. Just waiting for my owner.” which is what they always said the first 2 weeks, but we didn’t know that.) Which means when my depression over Pete’s death wouldn’t lift, he took me to see this cat, in the hopes it would cheer me up.
He was now available for adoption but more interestingly, he acted like he knew us, and was very vocal at us. So…. we went to the get acquainted room, and he walked all over us. We also noticed he was sneezing.
Dan told me we COULDN’T get him, because that would make six cats, and surely someone would adopt such a friendly boy, even if he was black. And we were past Halloween, so probably not at risk.
But on the way out we stopped by the front, told them he had kennel cough, and we’d pay for the treatment. They said not a problem, they’d take care of it.
Only ALL night I dreamed of him. Not in any bad way, just I dreamed of him asleep on our sofas, walking around our house, etc.
And I woke up with a sense of urgency. I had his case # and was on the phone to the humane society as soon as they opened. They told me he was scheduled for euthanasia in 20 minutes…. You see, they don’t treat colds in shelter cats. They just put them down.
Which is why Dan came into the kitchen and I was yelling into the phone that was our cat who just got lose, and if they put him down we’d sue them for their backteeth, and– I remember his expression and sigh, and the “oh, hell” before he went to put clothes on.
On the way out we bought a large dog kennel, to keep him confined and away from the geriatric cats, while he recovered, and we picked him up. (And endured a lecture about letting him roam, etc.)
We named him on the way home. And he became the NICEST cat we’ve ever had.
It’s like he knew we had saved him. I got him to hiss at me ONCE, shortly after 9/11 when we were mindlessly watching whatever came on TV. More out of distraction than on purpose, I’d been tickling his paw pads for an hour. He let out a hiss, then licked my hands to show he didn’t mean it.
He used to sit on the arm of my armchair in the family room, and then slowly migrate till he ws completely on my boobs. He did the same to DIL. Very slowly and carefully. Led DIL to nickname him “The world’s most polite molester.”
Up till the end, he let us position him, and do with him as we wanted. We never dressed our cats up as anything, but Euclid would have let us, and endured it purring, just happy to be with his people.
I’d say he answered to his name, but that’s not quite true. Greebo answers to his name. Euclid answered to the name of any of our cats, on the premise that three of them were (two are) black and we weren’t very bright, since I often called him the other cats names, so if he came he might get petted before we realized our mistake.
I didn’t realize how bad things had got until I looked for a photo of him (we don’t have many. Black cat, you know?) and realized how beautiful and glossy he used to look.
Yesterday he was a wreck of a cat, thin and scruffy. And yet, I hope I did the right thing, and that he forgives me. And he left a Euclid-shaped hole in our hearts.
I read somewhere years ago, the year we got our first baby and moved three times, that a move puts a great strain on you, as great as a divorce. Any disruption of routine apparently upsets the monkey brain, and you’re at risk for heart attack and stroke.
Well…. 2020 isn’t done with us, and I hope we survive it.
Some changes are good, some are bad, and some are breaking our hearts. But we’ll remember, and we’ll go on. Because life IS change. And it’s better than the alternative.
*The picture is of Euclid and D’Artagnan who were inseparable for most of their lives. D’Artagnan is older son’s cat and moved with him, despite being in (slow) renal failure. In the last three years, he and Euclid didn’t recognize each other, which is perhaps the saddest thing of all.*