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Mittens Toonces Simon

Mittens Toonces Simon
a.k.a. Mitty

My kitty-cat died Friday morning.

She seemed a little “out of it” early Thursday morning, but mostly she wanted to lie around … which, honestly, wasn’t too different from her usual slackful routine, and with cooler weather arriving, I suspected she was going into “hibernation mode.” I thought perhaps she had an upset tummy or maybe needed to cough up a hairball, and that she’d be fine in a few hours. Late that night, though, she was barely moving; I knew something was seriously wrong because every time I’d check on her, she’d moved further under the twin bed back in her room.

As soon as the vet’s office opened Friday, I took her in.

Dr. Clark told me Mitty’s heart sounded OK and her tongue was good and pink. When he took her temperature, though, he found it was lower than normal. “That’s bad,” he told me, and then he checked her ears and her eyes. Her pupils were different sizes; she’d probably had a stroke, he said.

And: “She’s in some pain.”

I asked him if we could put her down. He said yes, if I was prepared to do so.

As suddenly as this all occurred, it was something I’d thought about, occasionally, now that Mitty was getting on in years. And especially a couple of years ago, right after Chico died.

I never wanted her to suffer. Ever.

Dr. Clark shaved Mitty’s left forearm (shank? forepaw?), wrapped some rubber tubing around her leg to bring up a vein and then injected her with … I think he said it was a sedative, I don’t remember, all I know is that I was rubbing her side and then, a few seconds later, I felt that her heart was no longer beating.

And immediately, I missed my kitty.

Eighteen years is a long time to spend with anyone. Or any cat. Actually, I’m not quite sure how long we were together because I can’t remember if she came to me — by way of Arkansas! — in 1989 or 1990. She was a “grown-up” kitten by then … her and her six-toed paws that resembled boxing gloves; hence the name she’d been given, Mittens. (I gave her the middle name “Toonces” as an homage to “Toonces: The Cat Who Could Drive a Car,” and “Simon” in honor of my first cat, a slightly psychotic Siamese who bit every one of my friends — except Patti — who ever came to visit!)

I had various nicknames for Mitty: Mittenski, Middon, Mitty-Mitty-Mitty-Mitty (said in a very high pitch, usually when I couldn’t find her), Middle.

She was always here with me, and she was always purring.

Unless, of course, she was sleeping.

She was a good cat.

I took that black-and-white photo of Mitty shortly after I moved into this house (October of 1990). She was sitting on the easy chair, cleaning herself, with some kind of satin-covered toy lying in front of her. I interrupted her and got what I consider to be one of my best animal portraits ever.

Here are a few more recent shots — including one of Debra, Mitty and me, taken using the self-timer on my camera (and, naturally, Mitty refused to look at the camera):

Mitty in the Window

Mitty Eating Sketti

Delra, Mitty & Me

(You might not know it to look at me, but I was COVERED by poison ivy when this picture was taken — I just didn’t know it yet!)

Needless to say, Friday was an almost unbearable day — in no small part because I had also planned to attend the visitation for Jennie Nimtz, a 34-year-old woman I met about seven years ago.

Back in 2000, I was working with Jennie’s mom, Lynn, up at RLC and found out that Jennie, who’d been born with cerebral palsy and had battled several medical issues throughout her life, had recently returned from a trip to California. She had gone out there hoping to see a taping of her favorite TV show, “ER,” and ended up getting to be ON the show!

I spent an evening with Jennie, talking about the trip and the show, and also learning about her life. She was so intelligent and enthusiastic, and I came away from that interview feeling as if I had just met someone who, despite any of the limitations she had been given, truly knew the meaning of enjoying every minute of her life.

I felt inspired, and I felt blessed to have gotten to spend time with her … and, on Friday, my eyes filled with tears when I walked into the funeral home and saw the article I’d written about her mounted and prominently displayed amongst the photos and other memorabilia.

In-between the visit to the vet’s office and work and the visitation, I had returned to my house. For the first time, ever, without my kitty being here. For some reason, I needed to hear “The Last Song” by Elton John … which, to me, is one of the saddest songs ever, but also one of the most uplifting, somehow:

The Last Song

Yesterday, you came to lift me up
As light as straw and brittle as a bird
Today, I weigh less than a shadow on the wall
Just one more whisper of a voice unheard.

Tomorrow, leave the windows open
As fear grows, please hold me in your arms
Won’t you help me if you can, to shake this anger
I need your gentle hands to keep me calm.

’Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel
This fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son.

Things we never said come together
The hidden truth no longer haunting me
Tonight, we touched on the things that were never spoken
That kind of understanding sets me free.

’Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel
This fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son.

— Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Between a father and his son … or a daughter and her mom … or parents and their child … or even a girl and her cat.

Speaking of cats:

I taught Kiddle to jump up onto my lap this morning. I think she would’ve stayed there all day if I’d let her.


Kiddle Comfort

The highlight of Friday was going back to the vet’s office to have Kiddle’s stitches removed. Dr. Clark said everything looked good.

October 2007
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