We love our pets, don’t we? When you have no children, and you are trapped for 10 years in a house with elderly, sick and dying parents your pets come to have a whole new meaning to you. I always was loopy about them, and as time has gone on my family and I have raised passels of kitties, feral and tame, and a couple dozen dogs and pups have held my heart over the years.
Then there is Munson or Muncie Spumoni, also known as Little Big Ears as a kitten and then Spoops as he matured. He is a wonderment, and a more loving,intelligent kid there has never been.
Munson arrived here at the house as a teeny-weeny days-old kitten with his 2 sisters after being gently placed in our newspaper bin by his feral Mom cat, Teddy. Teddy was one of a large colony of feral cats who my Mom had been spaying, neutering and working on taming for the years after our moving to Florida in 1984. Back then there were no organizations taking an interest in wild cats, Mom did it out of love and a sense of duty to help these abandoned and discarded animals who were left here by snowbirds and vacationers when it was time to head back North. Our house backs up to a large 55 plus trailer park where most of the tenants only winter here. So the colony was about 20 cats in the early days.
Munson instantly has a special place in Mom’s life. With 2 huge ears the size of satellite dishes, he was a strikingly beautiful kitten with his brilliant white blaze, socks and belly on a black tabby background. He also bears a little “light” in the tip of his extraordinarily long tail, a white beacon that my brother Eric always called his “landing lights”. He was really stinkin’ cute! (and is.). His litter mates were little girls, Ebony: a psychotic coal-black cat with 1 white hair at her breast, and Tiggy: another hot mess of gleaming black with a true psychotic streak. (Possible sign of inbreeding?) At any rate these two would like to bite you hard as let you pet them. (Ebony used to gag when Mum would run her fingernail along the edge of the flea comb- where was YouTube back then?) Then there was Gretchen, a dainty tiny cat like her mother who danced along like a ballerina, light as air on her tiptoes, with a tiny meow you could barely hear.
But Muncie and Mom were inseperable, and when Mom was fighting the cancer, he would lay right next to her thru $%#! and high water, letting her pour out her tears into his glowing fur. He would have the most loving look on his face, as if he were the size of an Siberian Tiger and could carry Mommy off into the forest, away from all the torment and pain. Munson. Dear Munson, and dear Mom. He spent those years as faithfully as any Lab you have ever heard about sleeping by their master’s bed. She would hold him in her arms and stare down into his face, saying,”muncie. Muncie.” and kissing him a thousand times on his white striped nose. One of the last things she asked me to do was to, “Take care of my Muncie for me…Please take care of Muncie for me.” Of course I promised. (Like she had to ask…Oh, Mom…)
Well, now Munson has come to the end of his life. His nutty sister Ebony died 2 weeks ago, and I’m sure it was typical kitty old age, where the kidneys just shut down and she stopped eating and drinking. She lingered about 5 days before sleeping herself away. All this was happening while Dad was in the Hospital, so I grieved for her,but not as much as I am for Muncie.
Fast forward three days, I had to stop writing because I was crying too hard, and the grief exhausted me. Poor dear Muncie still lingers on the brink of the great beyond, and I have crumbled. I wanted to let him die here at home, i hate it when we put an pet down at the vets office-they are so frightened. But the stress of losing him by drips and drabs has cost me my sanity, having to hide his dying from Dad, who just goes to pieces over these events. So I have been disappearing every 5minutes to go hold Muncie, carrying him to all his favorite places in the yard and house. I can sound just like Mom when I try, and when I speak her love talk to him he looks up with his blinded eyes with such adoration.
I never fully appreciated how truly magical he is… until now. I knew he was special, and I loved him dearly; I stopped short of giving him my heart completely, out of fear of the pain that would surely come i the future. Last night, however, I gave my heart to him completely, when at 3in the morning I awoke with him snugly settled in my arms, head resting on my chest. Somehow, as weak as he is, he climbed up the side of the bed, out of the basket of towels on the floor, into my warm embrace. I will never forget that act of devotion as long as I live. Oh my…
Today I just can not allow him to go on like he is, so frail he is barely breathing, dragging himself to the door so h can go lay on the cool cement where the garden hose drips, trying to quench the unquenchable thirst that death brings. Somehow he had willed himself to Dad’s door, and in his dementia, Father let him outside a little while ago, and did not realize how sick the poor kid is. I just can’t let him die alone, although that is probably what his instincts tell him to do. No, the mother in me wants to hold him to the last.
Aren’t we humans a useless lot when it comes to the animals. Here I am, refusing to let him do what he wants to, even at the end of his faithful 18 years as our pet. And now trying to be humane after letting him linger for a week, for a reason I am not even sure he feels? Do I take him down there to the vets now, can I keep myself from collapsing if I let him die here?
Oh God, I wish I knew. The stress is crippling me, as is the grief.
I want to run so far away from all this pain, and leave Dad and all the animals here where they can’t hurt me anymore.
But that is not what Mommy’s do.
That is not who I am.
Jehovah made the animals instinctively wise, and He loves them even more than we do, because He created them. He gives them their gifts to be our companions, our comforters, our friends. It is my human failings that give me all this doubt, all this worry. Munson is not crying out in pain or sorrow. He showed me last night who the wiser one is. And he said goodbye already too. It is me who has to let him go…
I want to live again, with his memory to keep my heart warm.
Goodbye, Muncie Spumoni.
PS. I just cancelled the appointment to have him euthanized, I will let him pass here, with his sister and me and Dad, and the only home he has ever known. He is a great cat.