Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It Was An Honor, You Crazy Girl


Olivia, the Tiny. then, Olivia, the Shy Cat. then Olivia, the Sassy. then, Olivia, the Queen. Olivia, the Old Lady. Olivia, the Slow But Still A Badass.
and now - Olivia, in cat heaven. we were with her for 15 and a half years. i brought her home, one of a litter of kittens cared for by a friend from our then-church. when our kids were six and three. now they're 21 and 18. olivia wasn't named yet; my wife named her. she said she didn't know why "olivia" fit her - but it felt right.
from the beginning, olivia was shy. which is tough when you're a kitten among big expressive people like the Diamonds and the folks who'd come by. olivia would act like she was just sniffing you, then pause, then hiss and swat at you. and the she'd run off.
we're not sure what the kid in the famiy who gave olivia to us had done with the kittens born in his house, but the story we heard was that he, also a very young child, had tossed the kittens against the walls. so, there's that. but, she was just shy. kept to herself.
didn't come and get in your lap if you called her. didn't do ANYTHING if we asked her to. no tricks, no obedience. but she wasn't wild, or mean. she was just her own girl. so, we often called her the queen.
but it was funny because she was little and skinny.
she loved bling; she wore a collar. when her collar would get worn out, and we'd get her a new one, she'd stretch out her neck and let us put it on her. like a rock star being dressed for a show.
but when she wanted to be close to us, or when she was cold, she'd walk over casually, and jump up into our laps, and allow us to pet her. and, depending on whom she'd decided to sleep next to that month, when it was bedtime, she'd jump up into that person's bed and snuggle tight up against them.
she hissed, we figured, because she was scared. if you'd been tossed against walls in your deeply formative years, wouldn't you be? so, she didn't like strangers. but she liked us.
she didn't make messes or tear things up; that'd be beneath her. but she would jump up on the kitchen counter if there was chicken or whipped cream.
last week there was whipped cream.
she'd felt bad for a few years; turns out that, like many older cats, her kidneys weren't good. the vet suggested a canned food that helped cats' kidneys work easier. he said she wouldn't live that long. but she didn't die. just a tough old girl.
then she leaped up to sneak some whipped cream, and fell off the counter, and broke her leg. turns out she had bone cancer. we didn't know. she must've been in pain, maybe a long time.
so we took her to the vet and decided to euthanize her - the other option was to cut off her leg. but the vet said she wouldn't heal.
we told our college-age children to come say goodbye if they wanted to, and they did, and then we took her and held the queen. and said goodbye. she went quickly and quietly. she was ready.
so, we miss her. we kept her latest collar. and lately when i look up at clouds, i think they are whipped cream, and queen olivia doesn't have to sneak bites of it anymore. although she probably does because it's more fun.
but olivia mellowed out, too.

7 comments:

Steve said...

You gotta stop that beautiful, loving, awesome stuff. You're making me cry at work.

We have a cat named Maus that we love dearly and will miss terribly when he's gone. He's been with us 12 years and is probably about 15-16. Olivia was obviously very loved. You gave her so many wonderful, loving, safe years and allowed her to pass with dignity and in safety. Bless you and thanks for sharing.

journeyingrick said...

a cat named maus! that's awesome.

nonprofitprophet said...

good writing from the heart there oh awesome one. strange how our wierd ol' animals can have such a great pull on our emotions. NPP

jscorbin said...

Very sweet, Rick, and a fitting eulogy.

We had a cat, Samantha, but we just called her Sam. A very vocal siamese. She began to slow down in her 16th year, and the vet said it was kidney problems. He promised she wasn't in pain, so instead of putting her down we took her home for her last days. We found her one evening with her breathing getting shallower and shallower. So we just sat in the bathroom floor with her at midnight, holding her, stroking her fur, watching her breathe her last, and crying like babies. She was ready, too. Of course, very painful. But, in retrospect, one of the most beautiful times.

John

Anonymous said...

You and your lady are brave and compassionate people. I'm proud to be in your tribe.

journeyingrick said...

thanks anonymous. whoever you are. we're glad to be in your tribe too.

randell13 said...

That is a lovely story anyone who has had cats can relate to. We have always tried to keep two the same age. They play together and have during the day sleep on the bed together.
I'm semi-retired. When I was working I had 5,000 sq ft. living and working studio. They knew when to get up and go to work and when to stop working. Of my clients they had their favorites and knew who I did not particularly like and showed this.
This past year I discovered firet hand how fragile life really is. When my wife came to see me one of my first questions was "How are the cats".
I believe they stayed right with me for the first three months I was home.