Throughout my life I have had many pets. The first one I really remember was Muffin, the big ass tom cat that we didn’t know was a boy when we got him. He hated his name and went out at night and (I imagine) got in fights with the neighborhood cats that would tease him about it. He dropped many a dead bird on my baby yellow gingham bedspread and I knew he loved me. He ran away when the man who would become my Mother’s second husband moved into the house with his cat. Muffin wasn’t one to share.
In what could be thought of as a bookend to that portion of my life was D’arby. He was named after Terrance Trent D’arby and I got him around St. Patrick’s day, so it seemed like a perfect name–my love for my Irish ancestry is always coming up in odd ways. Anyway, I got D’arby when he was a tiny kitten and he was one of the best cats I ever knew. He was very much like a puppy, he followed me around and came when I called, etc…. He got very sick as a kitten and we had to feed him baby food and put him in the freezer for a few minutes at a time to try to get his fever to go down. Yes—the vet TOLD us to put him in the freezer. I had him for about 4 years, from 7th to 11th grade. In many ways, looking back, he was the highlight of this time in my life. Living with my stepfather was less then fun a lot of the time and without airing all sorts of dirty laundry, it was a very bad scene. But I always had D’arby. Well, I had him until my Mother finally left her husband and we moved to a place where we couldn’t have a cat. I don’t remember being sad about this. I don’t remember my emotions during this time much at all. I was numb throughout a lot of it. In survival mode. Using all the energy I had to just make it through. So we gave D’arby to a woman in my mom’s office. Not one of my favorite people, but she would take good care of him, etc… I never saw him again and it was years before I even asked the woman about him. Occasionally she would tell a story or something to my mom and in turn, my mom would tell me. D’arby turned 20 years old a few weeks ago. TWENTY! I can’t imagine him as the old cat that he inevitably had become. He was stuck in my mind as a silly grey and white kitten who was sitting in the freezer and would wake me up by licking my ears. I found out today that D’arby was put to sleep this past weekend. When my mom told me I felt a chill. I hadn’t laid eyes on that cat for 16 years, but he was still mine in my mind and now he was gone. I got home and gave my furry friends extra attention and made them promise, once again, to never get sick or die 🙂 They seemed alright with that.
In keeping this happy train rolling, my Dad visited my grandma today. She is 96 and every day she wakes up is a true miracle. Up until very recently she has been in good health. She can’t keep things straight and doesn’t get around much, but for all intents and purposes, is in fine shape. She never remembers my Dad, which is hard for him and sad for me to hear. She always remembers me though. She will eventually figure out who my Dad is by saying “Oh–you’re Heather’s father!”
Today she was asking how my twins were as well as the twins of my friend Erin. are. Well, I have no children and Erin (while pregnant) isn’t pregnant with twins (that we know of!) She also only met Erin a couple of times, even though I have known her since I was 5, the most recent time being almost 7 years ago at Christmas. However, in the mind of Bernice…there was a whole story line involving Erin, myself and our two sets of twins. Apparently Erin was married to a doctor (which was true the first time she was married, but not now) and I didn’t like him much (eh…also true I guess) but that wasn’t stopping me from visiting her at the hospital (which would TOTALLY be true) It’s these nuggets of clarity in my Grandma’s odd ramblings that kill me. You can almost convince yourself that her mind is almost like it used to be….almost. She has pneumonia right now and truly is not going to be with us much longer (although we’ve been saying this for some time now)
I hate that my children (should I have any) will never know her. Even now, she and I have a special bond. I used to spend all my summers with her on South Padre Island in Texas. We had so much fun it was insane. She always kept my nails painted—something my mom wasn’t so keen on. Christmas 2005 I visited her and noticed her fingernail polish was chipping (I guess people from the local beauty school come and do their hair and nails) and I asked if she wanted me to paint her fingernails for her. Her response, the first coherent thought of the visit was “Only if you’ve gotten better at that then you used to be. There was usually more polish on your fingers then your nails.” My Dad and I died laughing and I think at that moment I decided THAT was how I was going to remember her. That would be my final memory of a woman that played such a huge role in my life. So when I hear the crazy things she says, or the health problems she is having, it’s like they are some other person….and it makes it that much easier.
Um ok–this was kind of a bummer. But I didn’t mean to be. I’d like to think it is a celebration of life and the people and creatures that come in and out of it. These beings that love you unconditionally and make you who you are today. Life’s short, even though it can seem so long. So don’t miss out on things or think there will be another chance….because there might not be. On that note, if anyone wants to join me for lunch next Monday, I will be having corn nuggets in the presence of my redneck crush and he will be mine (as long as he’s working that shift of course 🙂 )