Friday was a full day during setup for this weekend’s show in Lawrenceville, GA. It was probably better that way – kept my mind occupied. Because today, 500 miles from home, I had to say goodbye to an old friend.
Tom has been a part of our family since he was born underneath our front porch in April 1995. There were five kittens originally – we kept two, two went to friends, and one went to the mailman (who left a note in our mailbox that started “If you’re looking for a home for the gray and white kitten…” – and he still lives with them).
He was always Ryan’s cat – they just had a bond. But Tom and I had a certain respect for each other – it started when he was three years old and went into convulsions. We found out later that he had a whole body infection called toxoplasmosis – all we knew at the time was that Tom was in trouble. I still remember the long drive to the veterinary emergency clinic at 11:00 at night, with Tom fighting for his life in the carrier beside me. From that day on, he always looked at me differently – and I felt like he somehow gave me credit for saving him. If cats truly have nine lives, Tom used up eight of his that night.
Over the years, Tom was quite a soothing influence on Ryan as he went through his teenage years. When he needed a friend, Tom was always there.
Tom was always the greeter – he would come out on the driveway to check out anyone who came to visit. By contrast, his sister was skittish and would run and hide. My grandpa used to watch our house and feed the cats when we were out of town – and he would question whether we really had two cats since he only saw one each time he came to feed them.
The last few years have been tough – kidney problems, emotional issues, joint stiffness. Each time, thanks to Dr. Sue, another medicine was added to the routine and brought him back to health. So many times, we made peace with the idea that Tom wouldn’t be around much longer. And yet he survived. Then the call came this morning, and Dr. Sue came on to tell me that his kidneys were failing, his temperature was down, his respirations were fast, and he was hurting, even though he wouldn’t let it show. And it would take a lot to keep him alive until I got home – but it wouldn’t make him comfortable. So the decision was made – it had to be made, but he was on my mind a lot today.
This will be one of my lasting memories of Tom – the part he played in bringing Zoe into our lives. The day I went to the pound to look for another dog, Tom was one of the “people” who came in during the morning to visit with her. Since Tom ruled our yard, it seemed only right that he have a say in whether Zoe came to live with us. He did the same with Nala just a few months ago – this was his way of welcoming her, when she climbed out of her bed to eat and Tom took her place.
Rest well, my friend . . .