Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To Rumba

My sweet Rumba,
we met on a Sunday and this past Sunday, we said good bye.
I know we had our ups and downs, but we've had plenty of memories these past 14 years.

Remember when you could jump up on the kitchen counter? That drove me crazy. And you knew it. Did you know you were the first cat to ever knead me? And when I was on Mark's couch at his, er, YOUR home, you would let me know that was YOUR couch. You always said hello when I visited. Not like your little brother, Flynn, who hid from me.

When Mark would go out of town, I'd come over and you would greet me. And I always stayed for at least an hour with you and Flynn. I know you were very independent back then, but you always liked spending time with me.

Once, you made a run for it out the apartment and down the hallway - but your hefty frame kept you from going too far. I've been told you were once very skinny, but when I knew you, you were "tubby tabby", and at the end, under 10 pounds. Your "skirt" was close to the ground – proof of you being overweight at one time.

Remember when you spent the night in the closet at the apartment? (not my fault). It was practice for the time you spent the night in our screened in porch. (not sure if that was my fault - 50% chance it was).

Then you moved into the downstairs of a house. You lost your big tree 3 stories up, but you gained a smaller, nicer tree in your front yard. You had your own window perch that looked like a hammock when you were done with it. It sagged so much, it broke.

You officially became "mine" in September of 2003. Ok, I still referred to you as my step cat, but you and I now had to co-exist. Until this week, I have never spent a night without you in our new house. Our kitchen was getting fresh, yellow paint the first day you arrived. You went in the basement with Flynn and had to find out for yourselves that the basement was kitty safe. It included your litter boxes, food and a nice couch with steps. You had to discover it on your own that at the top of the steps was a special, secret opening - just for you and Flynn. And it was you that found it first. It didn't take you long to
realize there was an upstairs to be discovered. That first day, you marked your new turf in the yellow paint.

You didn't take long to find the second story, upstairs. You didn't like the new "rule" with closed bedroom doors. You let us know by your loud voice or simply knocking. Our alarm clock - always reminding Mark it was breakfast time or if something wasn't to your liking. After living with you, I found out that you loved tuna fish, green olive juice, my rain coat, paper from IKEA and helping us build book shelves. You especially loved it when I wrapped presents on the floor. And one of your favorite toys was a simple ribbon. A Rumba Ribbon. You hated fireworks and the vacuum cleaner (but I always gave you a head start).

You and Flynn had the run of the house. And your favorite was Christmastime. Remember that purple, velvet tree skirt? You loved that so much, I didn't care that it didn't match our decor. "Christmas Rumba" napping under the Christmas tree.

But your younger brother, Flynn got sick and died suddenly. You licked him before he died - because you knew he was sic

I'm sorry to tell you, but we always thought it would be you to go first. But not you, you had other plans. What you didn't plan was another male cat joining the family soon after. And you didn't like Jake at all. He was another alpha cat, and he finally left you alone when he grew up... and when he had Flip to play with. Yes, another, dumb, boy cat joined our family. But Flip kept Jake busy and they both understood that you were to be left alone. They also understood that you always came first.

Just when you had adjusted into being a "grandma cat", we found Zing in our yard. She was unexpected and we reluctantly integrated her into the family. We really did try finding her another home, but no one wanted her. You
let us know your feelings by your protest pees on the throw rugs. Once I put up all of the rugs, you then peed where they once laid. And once I finally got the message, you accepted Zing because she knew you were the alpha female, not her.

When you got even older, we gave you special beds - just for you. I placed towels and fleece in your special spots, too. You lost almost half of your weight, so you kept warm in your favorite fleece bed. I'd open the blinds just for you, even in the winter, so you could tan. You loved sun beams and would scoot to them when the sun moved.

Then I lost my job and was suddenly stuck at home - all day - with you. And you hung out with me all day. You would follow me around and would sit at my feet. And all you wanted in return was to be petted – and you didn't care if I used my hand or my foot. You would fall asleep at my feet daily after our special toe rubs. And when I'd get a phone call, you'd always give the person on the phone your two cents worth. I got used to telling them "Rum
ba says hello".

If I had computer work, you'd follow me upstairs and sit under the desk, on or near my feet. My assistant, keeping me company when I had no one to talk to all day. But you were always at my side. Some days, I'd swear I'd throw you out in the snow because you drove me batty. I think some days you and I yelled back and forth at each other. I'm sorry for that, but then I didn't always want you touching me or meowing at me. You always forgave me quickly and I also found patience with you, too.

On your last day, I opened all of the blinds wide especially for you. But you just couldn't get comfortable in the sun beams. I knew something was very wrong when you became very quiet and you only came to me once. I laid down next to you that morning and we had nice, alone time.

I could see in your eyes something was very wrong. Your breathing was hard and you couldn't do what you did best – sleep.

You fell trying to go upstairs. That is when we knew it was time. You rode in my Jeep (remember the time before? It was with the top down) in Mark's lap, in your favorite bed. No scary cat carrier for you ever again.

A doctor that we had never met before told us you would never get better. She was very kind and understood that we loved you very much. You died with the two people that loved you – and the two people that you loved back.

I'll never get to see you sleep so tight in a letter "C". Or hear you meow in your sleep. You'll never put your paw on me to let me know you wanted my touch. And you'll never lay your head at my feet when I cried because I was sad or lonely.

Today, I'm sad because I miss you, old girl. You were one of my best friends and I know people won't understand that. The Big Rumbowski, Stinks, Honey, Sweetheart, Baby Girl, Rumbooboo, Rumps and Rumby. You were all of those
and not just a cat to me – but my very special friend. I miss you terribly. And you'll come home next week for good. We have to find one of your special spots, like Flynn is in Mark's room. Not sure where yet, but you will always have a special spot in my heart.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My mom, band aids & being a wife...

My mom has always said that there is nothing worse than one of her kids hurting. It didn't matter if it was a fat lip or a broken heart - hurt was hurt. And as a mom, I know she tried to take the pain away. Sometimes, a band aid would do the trick. Sometimes she'd tuck my hair behind my ear and pat me on the back. She would tell me to ignore those mean girls or that that boy wasn't worth my heart ache. And sometimes she kept away the boy who was bad for me. (she was right, but don't tell her - because she already knows).

My mom has also said it crushed her when her husband (my dad) hurts. Again, it could be a hip ache, a mean family member or an employer that undervalued him. All hurt, but my mom would always try to take it away.

I'm not a mom - by choice. I admit, I would have been a really bad mom at times. I have no idea how my mother did not smother me in my sleep. I guess the patience thing comes with simply being a mom. And jail time was too severe for punishment.

A dear friend that is a priest once told me that it is OK to NOT be a mom - but I had to be MOTHERLY and MOTHER-LIKE, instead. What the heck? At the time, I didn't understand, but I think I do now. It means to protect at all costs.

I am a wife now. And even though my husband is a bit older than me, I find myself being protective of him. As you know now, I have been the protector of friends, etc. growing up (see post on bullies). So I think it is natural for me to be protective of my family.

No one or nothing messes with my husband. Period. Sometimes a band aid works. Sometimes a hug. And sometimes I'm up all night losing sleep when he's had a broken heart or been smashed to the ground. Me losing sleep may not really take away the hurt, but I will lose the sleep for him any night, so he can get a good night's rest and take away the pain.

Maybe I would have been a good mom, because I'm finding I will protect my family at all costs... but what I found is that I'm a better wife by knowing my mom.