Today, we had to end the life of our cat, Trixie, who has been with Aimee and I since we were married more than 18 years ago. She was in renal failure, and instead of prolonging the agony, we had her put to sleep. After a long, and might I add, cushy life, her body just finally wore out.
We ended up with Trixie because she was rejected by her original owners. Before we were married, every year on Sherman's (my wife's grandfather) birthday, my mother-in-law, Carol, would threaten to buy him a live pet, and every year he'd end up with some sort of toy animal. It was a running joke until his 80th birthday. That year Carol actually bought Sherman a cat. She named her Trixie after Sherman's wife, (Aimee's grandmother) Henrietta, who earned the nickname from her friends after many nights dancing and partying. It was a party girl name, for a party girl.
Sherm and Henrietta took the cat home, but if you had ever lived with Henrietta, you'd know that one of things that drove her nuts was an unkempt home. We lived with them for nine days so I found that out, first hand (and often scolded).
By the way, in their home, somehow, against the laws of nature and physics, "The Lawrence Welk Show" was on their television every evening, sometimes as long as three hours, and these were the days before you could buy TV shows on DVD or VHS. How they could find that program every single blasted evening is a still a mystery to me.
You can imagine, then, the havoc a kitten wrought upon the Little household. Being up in her years, Henrietta just couldn't relax as Trixie messed up their house. Trixie, too, had a terrible habit of walking right under your feet, so she was a potential broken hip. For the good of their health and sanity, my mother-in-law took her back in, an orphan of a home, I'm sure, was scrubbed top to bottom the moment the cat left the house.
I'd never really owned a pet (besides, Garfunkle, a goldfish), and has always wanted one. Aimee grew up with all kinds of animals and liked them. We couldn't really afford it, but we decided to take her in.
Before you have children when you are young marrieds, often a pet will become like a child for you. Kind of a pseudo-son or daughter you spoil, talk to, and tell stories about to other people, much like a new parent tells stories about the the exploits of their babies. For nine years, this was pretty much Trixie's place in our life.
After Max was born though, Trixie, for all practical purposes became the cat. Still loved, but not nearly as pampered as before. Her change in status - from "favored child" to "cat who better stay away from the baby - was difficult for her. But she's a cat, so she adapted. Besides, she still found the available lap with great regularity.
That's probably how the story would have ended, her becoming more and more the cat as each boy was born, except late in her life she got a brief reprieve. The year we were in Kentucky while I was at school (June 2006-May2007), Trixie lived with The Great One, my grandmother, where for a time she was elevated from "cat" to "treasured guest" status. Within a month of settling in, The Great One's lap was Trixie's territory. Her every need catered to, when we would come home for a visit, Trixie would hide in The Great One's bedroom so we wouldn't take her home. Needless to say, she really didn't want to come back to the Bucher house. I'm sure she was grateful for a year where she always could find a warm lap to lay on and the absence of little boys looking to chase her or pull her tail before they were spanked or scolded by her parents. It had to be sweet to be talked to and valued again like she was when we had more time for a little gray cat.
Thank you, Great One, from Trixie, and us.
She's gone now. The obvious pain she was in, coupled with the loss of control of bladder and intestines, makes it much easier to let her go, but we'll still really miss her. She, like too many others - like Sherman, Henrietta, and Carol - have gone on from this life, leaving a hole in ours. Amazing how a cat can do that... leave a hole. Somehow, Trixie did.
"Goodbye old friend. I hope as you passed, you were comforted by memories of a a pillow, a lap, a gentle pat on the head, a finished bowl of milk, and a warm sunbeam."