My husband and I rarely go away together alone for the day, never mind for an overnight. We and the four kiddos typically travel as a “Pack” – participating in family friendly activities. Our schedule is so jam packed that to find a break in the insanity so that my husband and I can sneak off for a bite to eat or a movie is just too daunting a task.
So, it is how it is -- and we often find ourselves planning lots of family fun nights that end with Mom and Dad getting the kids off to bed and sacking on the couch with a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers and a movie from On-Demand. Real exciting stuff!
Well, this past weekend was different. My husband had bought us some tickets to see Bella Fleck (a very talented banjo player) at the Calvin Theater. The Calvin Theater is located in a quaint little town called North Hampton – which is an hour and a half from Norton. We decided to make a night of it – go to dinner, see the show and spend Friday into Saturday in North Hampton. Marc’s Mom and Dad offered to stay at our home and sit with the kids and everything was falling into place nicely…
Until the cat died.
Now, let me rewind. My week had started out typical until we hit Wednesday morning. There seemed to be an issue with the new well water storage tank we had replaced. And as I raced around trying to get the kiddos off to school, I frantically called our wonderful plumber friend, Sang. He came in and checked out the issue and suggested that I might want to call someone to check out our well.
I spent the morning on my cell phone trying to find someone to check out our well. Then turned to the magic of Facebook for help – and it worked – I found a man to come out Thursday morning to check things out. I then picked up my sweet son at preschool, and began the ride homeward, only to have him start complaining about a tooth we had just had work on.
My weekend away was not looking promising.
Thursday morning came, and I awoke early to a sick kitty. Our cat Boru is notorious for eating things he should not -- often times, this habit of his causes him to get sick. I got up and cleaned up the kitty and sighed. Last time Boru did this it ended up with an all expense two day paid visit to the vet.
It was definitely looking like we were going to have to cancel our trip. I could just envision my in-laws showing up at the house as we ran past them at the speed of light shouting, “There is no running water, the five year olds tooth is falling out and the cat is throwing up! Have fun! Oh yeah, and thanks!” It reminded me of that advertisement when the grandparents show up at the house for what they think is a family visit, only to be duped into having to babysit the infant grandchild as their grown children run past them with packed suitcases and jump into a taxi. The advertisement ends with the grandfather awkwardly holding the infant and chasing after the taxi yelling, “Don’t leave me with the baby!”
The rest of Thursday was a blur… We got the well issue fixed, my son’s tooth repaired (again) and the cat a visit to the vet and some meds to calm his stomach. All before 3 p.m.
There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel…
Friday morning came, and I made the usual insane list of things to tell my mother in-law about the kids. I made sure my favorite feline friend was making progress and was cared for until we got back. We had the hotel phone number, the necessary instructions for caring for a preschooler with sore teeth, and what to do in case of allergic reactions to peanuts(as my 9 year old has a nut allergy). You know - -the typical stuff you tell a woman (who is also the mother of four – grandmother of seven) who has spent her whole life as a nurse -- because whatever would she do -- if you did not???
However, the one thing I left off the list was -- what to do if the cat dies…
We awoke refreshed on Saturday morning – ready for a nice quiet breakfast and a leisurely day of window shopping. My husband and I are not the “leisurely” type. Therefore it took almost twelve hours for us to finally relax and enjoy our time together. Just about the time we finished breakfast and felt some respite sink into our bones we decided to call the house to check in on everyone. Bad idea.
As I watched my husband’s face contort as he spoke with my father-in-law I held my breath. And I knew as he ran his hand over the top of his head before sinking down onto the cozy little love seat on the veranda off our hotel room that we had yet to enjoy – something was wrong and my heart skipped a beat. I knew it was the kitty.
Boru had passed away during the early morning hours.
The tears poured from my eyes and my heart broke for the kids, for my poor in-laws – but mostly for me. That 23 pound fat-cat was my friend.
We got home in record speed and we were met with hugs and consolation. I was probably in the worst shape, as I tried not to get too upset in front of the kids. My father in-law wrapped his arms around me and shielded me from my youngest as I sobbed into his shoulder.
My in laws are not people who make a big deal about things like this. As a matter of fact, my father in-law has been teased for years about his lack of compassion for various family pets. But, this time was different. My father in law’s reputation for being a “tough guy” was crushed by the sad faces of his grandchildren as he wrapped up our dearly departed feline friend in a blanket and placed him gently in a box.
My mother and father in-law remained calm and thoughtful through the tears and questions. They opened the back door so that “ Boru’s great spirit” could leave and fly up to heaven. The kids wrote letters and placed them inside the box with the kitty. There was counseling and consoling and lots of love. I could not have done any better myself – as a matter of fact, I was so upset – I am not sure I could have done it at all.
We held a ceremony in the back yard -- four adults and four kids gathering around in the frigid weather to say our goodbyes. It was awful and simultaneously wonderful. My kids are certainly loved…
And so it ended as we all sluggishly walked back to the house in silence. Then it happened... My husband began to laugh-- he laughed so hard that he had to stop and regain his composure before the kids caught him. My husband catches his breath and looks to his parents with a slightly apologetic expression on his face and says, “Remember the time Nana and Papa came to stay with us for the weekend and the cat died?” Laughter exploded from my father in-law and he fondly slapped the shoulder of my husband…his youngest son…
I watched as Marc walked into our home surrounded by his Mom and Dad – embracing death the only way the Irish know how… Cracking jokes and shaking their heads.
“It certainly makes for a good story...” my father in-law says as he picks up the phone to call my own Dad.
“Hey Lloyd, you missed a good weekend to babysit! You will never guess what happened….”
Boru Holloway - The King of Cats
July 2005- January 2013
You will be dearly missed my friend.