Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lucy — 1993 - 2010

“Laughing and crying ... it’s the same release.”

—Joni Mitchell, “People’s Parties” (from Court & Spark)

“Even when you look for [weirdness], you’re never prepared for it.”

—Hobbes the tiger

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

I had been remarking of late that I hardly saw family anymore. It seemed like everyone was either sick, hundreds of miles away, or flown from this mortal plane. I needed to see people. I needed to feel love and life. And what better time to see people than the weekend of my twenty-fourth birthday. My cousin was in town, and we would get to see a couple of lesser-known-to-me relatives in Arlington Heights, as well as a couple of long-time-unseen family friends. And that’s not to leave out some family quadrupeds — Dinah and Stella from downstate, Tazzy and K.C. in the suburbs.........and Lucy.

We talked; we laughed; we smiled; we ate; we caught the end of a rare Cubs victory; all was good.

It’s always abrupt.

I neither heard the cry nor saw the break. For a little while, we all thought everything was fine and all was clear for the consumption of Princess Torte. Then we decided we should check on her.

A forearm should not bend like that when she walks.

The emergency vet’s diagnosis and our resulting decision thwacked me like a one-two punch. How the heck could she get stuck in a chair she should know so well? Had she really been that sick this last week?

It was a bizarre and surreal moment when she came in for the last time, wrapped in a towel with an IV through a bandage on her other leg. She clearly wanted to drift to sleep as we snuggled and admired her one last time. Curiously, she had not shown signs of being in pain since the original cry. I remained fixed on her.

This was more than a house pet; this was the lone representative of my whole conscious life to this moment.

Lucy was adopted as a kitten by my grandmother Lila in 1993, as was her twin brother, Linus. I was in second grade at the time. When Lila died the following year, my uncle Jim took up the young felines. For a few years in the middle, Jim had his own place in the suburbs, and so that’s where Linus and Lucy went. The rest of the time, everyone stayed with Lori......and Loki and Abby.

Lucy tended to take a back seat to the other cats. Loki was the alpha, and he and Abby ruled the upstairs. Of the two “Van Pelts,” Linus, being bigger and more sociable, got the lion’s share of, well, most things. This may explain the distaste that Lucy expressed toward the other cats. But I gave Lucy as much attention as I gave anyone. She was primarily Jim’s cat; anyone else had to specifically look for her if they wanted to see her.

I couldn’t resist that eternally youthful kitten face. She didn’t seem to think me too shabby myself. She was the most enthusiastic of the four about claiming me as hers. The more enthusiastic the rubs and snuggles, the better, I say.

I kind of figured she would outlast all the others — the others being two diabetic big boys and a lady some three-and-a-half years her elder. By the time Jim died, Loki and Abby, the kittens of 89, had also gone, granting the “Van Pelts” the whole house. Lucy’s behavior changed from that point: she became more social, stopped hissing at her brother, and, for some reason, stopped grooming herself. I didn’t think to call her a “Rastafurrian” at the time; I just thought of it now. Anyway, I spent a few hours over time attempting to comb some of the mats out of her fur. She was quite resistant to that the first few times, but I believe she came to realize that it was a “necessary evil,” and so I could get away with it while she napped.

Lucy changed her behavior still when Linus departed. The spotlight was all hers now, and she claimed it calmly, quietly, and gracefully, although one person whose bedroom she now shared would beg to differ about the “quietly” part. She’d get a bit bossy after a while, and, out of the blue, she’d pick up some of Linus’s old tricks. Also, for no apparent reason, she would soak the underside of her face in her water (a long time habit of Dinah the dog, from whose schnauzer beard water drips all over the floor).

That cat had brains. She and I could communicate, and I swear she figured out how to open the basement door.

For about seventeen years out of my twenty-four, Lucy remained, a consistent sweetheart and an anchor to the best of my days.

As we drove back home, just after midnight, I could momentarily see, between the tears, a full (?) moon masked by lightly hazy clouds. I think there was one small lightning fork beneath it as we came down McCormick. I don’t know if it means anything, but it seems somehow poetic.

Lucy changed her behavior with each close death. Now, with Lucy’s passing, perhaps it’s my turn to change behavior just a bit.

Lucy, exact date unknown, 1993 – June 28, 2010.

Rest in peace, my Angel.

(This is my final photograph of Lucy, taken on May 31, 2010.)


Drunkenmaster said...

That was really moving, my friend.
I always got the feeling you and her were very close, and I feel for you as I was in similar situation recently.
I lost my Gwynn a classic black and white Silvester looking cat just a few days before Xmas 2009. She was a rescue cat found in an old factory, at first they thought she was just plain black, my partner worked at the rescue at the time and remembered walking in the next day and seeing an unknown black and white cat, it took a few minutes until they put 2&2 together. I pop into the rescue (who can resist a house full of cats) and she followed me around the place talking. Soon we took her home, it was in the year 2000.
She never liked any other cat and at one point we had up to 9 in our place, but she loved music and would always be in the studio sat on the desk between me and the sliders. She didn't mind what type of music either but stayed the longest around the Reggae vibe. At the end of last summer she started to be sick nearly every morning and the vet told us the worst, that she had kidney failure. 4 days before Xmas we noticed her back legs had started to fail and that afternoon she had her last meal of her most loved food, full fat cream. A few hours latter I woke up from sleeping on the couch, right next to her laying in a old box right up against the radiator. I heard her groan once in pain just before she died with me stroking the back of her neck. a few days latter for some unknown reason I was going through some old forgotten recordings from 2006 and found a dub tune I had made with a sample of her voice calling. I still find it really hard to explain my grief at losing her a close friend.
All the best, Cheshire.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Lucy. She is at peace!

tucker said...

I'm so sorry you lost Lucy, I've got tears in my eyes while typing this...
Being a cat lover myself I know what it's like. Lost my sweet Gossie unexpectedly almost 2 years ago at the age of 17 (still feel the pain quite often), and fortunately I still have his sweet identical twin brother Grizz but he is really gettin' old and slow now.
I found them cold and hungry when they were 3 weeks old and I fed them with a tiny bottle until they could eat and they've always slept in my bed.
I dread the day that will surely come and which is getting closer and closer...
Isn't it unfair that our beloved pets usually live so much shorter than we do? Life really sucks without them...
Take care!

Cheshire Adams said...

Cheers, all.

Stu: Linus also departed a few days before Xmas, in 2008. I was far away from him at the time. I heard about it when Dad casually mentioned in his usual, tactless way that "the cat died." I said "WHAT?!" Mom said "You didn't tell him??" I was pissed. I didn't mention any of that on the blog before, of course, but there it is.

Lucy liked to sing a couple of times a day. I never thought to record it for some reason........possibly because one of those times tended to be when I was still in bed, returning to the third dimension and having to go through Customs, dig it.

I mentioned "Tazzy and KC in the suburbs" in this post; their human, my dad's cousin, tells me KC is nineteen! She just rested on the bed throughout my brief visit. I'm sure that was fine with Tazzy the Manx; that cat couldn't get enough of me.......

Well...Stu, Tucker, Anonymous....see you at the 'Bird!