Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Last week my beloved cat George passed away. It was a very tough week for me. However, my spirits were greatly lifted by all of the support I received from so many, both in-person and via social media. For years George was also regularly the subject of many of my own social media posts. I thought it was only fitting that I pay tribute to him here.
I've never liked cats. George came into my life through a series of coincidences.
This is the short story of his life with me.
I found him in a rescue "cage" at the hardware store in Gorham, Maine. I remember thinking that it looked like he was living in a giant popcorn popper. Like the kind they have at the circus or a carnival. It made me sad. The night before I met him I had dinner with my brother-in-law. He told me that I had to see this cat at the hardware store. He looked like a lion, he said. "We really can't have a cat. The dog wouldn't like it. But, you should go see him."
"I don't want a cat. I really don't. I don't like cats."
I went anyway.
All the women who worked at the hardware store loved him. They gossiped about the woman who had given him up. "She got him from the rescue when he was a kitten. She had him for five years. How could she give him away?"
I'm sure she had a very good reason.
I didn't care.
He did look like a lion. He had a huge head and a club tail that thumped on the carpet when I reached through the screen to scratch his ears. He purred so loudly that I was embarrassed. People were looking.
His paws were enormous.
He was the color of tea with milk. His eyes were green. And very large. He looked sad and happy at the same time. Was it me?
He was sweet and gentle, and mine. Right then. That day in November 2007. Right after Thanksgiving. And, my birthday. I decided he was my gift to myself.
He is definitely the best birthday gift I've ever received.
My bubby. My boo. My #1 boy.
My most loyal companion.
My only experience of paternal love.
He was my alarm clock every morning.
He greeted me every day when I came home.
He saved me from myself on too many occasions to count.
He slept with me at night. Every night.
He had a snore that could wake the dead.
He was a social media cat. He demanded attention on Facebook. And Twitter. And Tumblr. And, especially Instagram. He even liked Foursquare.
He had lots of fans and friends and followers. He was a natural. He was great content. And, so much more than that.
He was regal, like a king.
He made my life feel easier.
One day I came home from work and he wasn't there. I called him. He didn't come.
I looked for him in all of his favorite daytime sleeping places.
I found him behind a box in the corner of the closet in my guest room.
He hissed at me. Something was wrong.
I called the vet the next morning to see if I could bring him in.
It was pouring. He hated his cage. He hated the car. Mokie brought us. He puked on her seat.
His kidney function numbers were off the charts.
I needed to bring him to the hospital.
He was there for four days. They did everything they could. They were compassionate and gentle with him. And me.
He barely ate. He barely moved. But, he climbed in my lap when I would visit. He would purr. I was hopeful.
"I have bad news."
"Can I take him home for a couple of days? Will he suffer?"
As soon as we got home that night and I laid down, he climbed up on my chest and purred. Staring at me.
That was the last time.
But, he was happy. He was home.
I called my vet and asked if she would come to the house to check on him.
Of course she would.
"I know it's time for him to go. Would you be willing to do that at home?"
Of course she was.
I had two days with him. I cried for two days. I rarely cry. I sobbed.
He got very weak, very fast. On the last day he couldn't walk. I sat him on his favorite cushion and I moved him so he could follow the sun. He loved the sun.
I stayed beside him. Sweet soft boy.
It was time.
George left me just before 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 18th.
It was painless for him and peaceful for both of us. I was beside him. Touching him. Whispering.
I kissed his head one last time. I inhaled. I wanted his familiar smell.
I think even the vet had tears.
They wrapped him in a beautiful blanket and he was gone.
I shut the door and felt alone. But, only for a minute.
So many people cared. Whether online or in person, it's all very real. And, it helped. A lot.
Thank you everyone.
I want to specifically thank the people who took care of George when I could not. Josh & Jennifer Yurges, Justin Bennett & Hana Pelletier, Ian Grady, Angie Grosso, Laura Gould, Lauren Van Orman, my mom, and especially Kate Mockus. You all held a very special place in his heart. Of course, you also hold one in mine.
I would also be remiss in not thanking the outstanding vets and support staff at Maine Veterinary Referral Center and Brackett Street Veterinary Clinic. Especially, Nellie Savage, DVM. I don't know what I would have done without her.
I will really miss my #1 boy.
*The comedian Sarah Silverman's beloved dog, Duck, recently passed away. Shortly before George. She wrote a tribute to him that inspired mine to George. Her words helped to shape mine. Thank you Sarah.
You can read her tribute to Duck here.
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Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).
Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg
His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).