Jim’s dad is a remarkable guy, 93 years young. Since he moved to an apartment in an independent living center, he has taken his own advice and found ways to occupy himself. One of those is learning to create stained glass pieces. He has kept Jim posted on his progress and seems to be enjoying himself.
A few days before Christmas he asked for our winter address in Texas and said he wanted to send us something he had made. We gave it to him and a few days later we received this most elegant and thoughtful gift.
Perfect. Dad knows we are in the bus with not much room for “stuff.” He knows what is important to us and lovingly put together this small, simply designed stained glass window for the bus. Yes, I cried.
The three darker blocks you see in the top orange panels are printed labels with each kitty’s name on it, in order: Tikita (white), Carmella and Astrid. And of course he got the names right. We feel blessed to have this enduring token of all the love flowing around. How lucky are we?
It is no big secret that we love our kitties. They are our family, our traveling companions, our playmates and lap snugglers. They continue to amaze us with how they have adapted to the bus and we look forward to taking them outside to explore when we reach a new destination. We have been fortunate that they travel well and are healthy and happy. Of course, why wouldn’t they be? We worship them constantly, give them tons of attention, love, food, catnip and toys. We have had friends say that if they are reincarnated, they want to come back as one of our cats.
Now that we are parked for the winter, we have daily outings when the weather permits, which is almost always. We are right across from the dog park where the dogs (and cats) can be off leash. Tikita and Carmella have taken to “going to the park” as we call it. They run around after the birds and chase each other. Carmella runs up the trees. Astrid goes outside but mostly sticks to the site since she knows she has to have her string on if she goes too far afield. She is getting used to the string slowly which is not surprising because, well… Astrid.
Astrid was the $10 kitty. When I went to the shelter to adopt Carmella, Astrid kept jumping on my lap as if to say, “Pick me! Pick me!” So I did and she has been my lap kitty ever since. It was the best thing ever to get two small kittens and have them grow up together.
Astrid did plenty of things to make up for her discount price tag. When we had only had her for a few days, she was on the second floor of the house trying to play with our big male cat through the stair railing–from the wrong side. We watched from our bed and I said “There goes my new vase” about five seconds before Astrid fell backward off the railing and crashed to the table below with a flower arrangement in my new Blenko vase. She was OK but the vase was not. She quickly became the $150 kitty.
She had plenty of other mishaps including getting caught under the net of our outdoor fishpond and ending up in the water, not once, not twice, but three times. Through the years she made her way to the veterinarian often enough. An abscess on the base of her tail required up close and personal treatment involving keeping the wound open and dabbing medicine into it to heal the infection. That was fun.
In 2010, right before Jim retired, he took one of his last weeklong business trips. I was looking forward to making the most of this last trip, mainly by eating whenever I wanted, enjoying the time alone and reading with Astrid on my lap. But something was very wrong with Astrid. She was languid and feverish and we ended up at the vet again. They didn’t know what was wrong with her and gave her the usual cortisone shot. It perked her up overnight but the next day she was worse. I took her in again and they kept her overnight to hydrate her. They warned me that it was touch and go and she might not make it through the night.
The cats were still going outside at that point and Astrid was an avid and relentless hunter. She was basically on the “Vole a Day” program where she sniffed out and ate a vole. Every day. All I could figure was that this time she got a bad one, diseased or something.
She made it through the night and came home but she was weak and it took her a very long time to recover. Not to mention the several hundred dollars I shelled out. I remember telling her that if she came through this, whenever she jumped on my lap I would give her my full and total attention; no reading, iPad drawing, just love and attention for Astrid. And I have pretty much stuck with it, although she does like to rub her face on the iPad.
I reminisce because I got the sad news yesterday that a friend’s little dog died suddenly while having his teeth cleaned at the vet. Just like that, your close buddy is gone. His name was Hobbes and they called him The Grand Companion and indeed he was. A small black dynamo with a windmill for a tail, he was a truly happy and sweet dog. I cried many tears when I heard the news, knowing that my friends are beside themselves with grief. I still weep when I think of my former pets that I have had to part with, some sudden, some not. They take a grip on your heart and don’t let go, even when they are gone. So sorry for Hobbes and his people.
When Astrid jumped on my lap last night, several times, it was like she knew something had happened; I was so sad about Hobbes. I renewed my promise to give her my full attention, knowing there will be a time when we won’t be together. I want to soak every minute up and make it last. I don’t know how many lives this cat has left but I want to be fully present when she gives me the gift of her love. That, along with a stained glass window from Dad is priceless.