Friday, March 11, 2016

Hotel Catifornia

His name was Clarence and he came with a sibling called Conan. Their names did not match their personalities. Conan was timid. Clarence--who soon came to be known as "Clance"--was the bold swashbuckler. Our daughter adopted the pair when she was living in a rowhouse on Baltimore's Federal Hill. One day the intrepid Clarence ran away. He swaggered back a few days later with an oil spot on his head and an attitude: "Don't even bother to ask where I've been and what I've been doing."

The cats and the pit bull moved to a crackerbox of a house when our daughter got married. A large sheepherder-type dog belonging to our son-in-law was already in residence. In due time, a baby boy arrived. When the baby was a few weeks old,  Conan suddenly had to be put to sleep. A stray cat turned up the next day, as if an invisible "Vacancy" sign had been hanging in the window. Our daughter was so sad about Conan that our son-in-law briefly considered letting it into the house. Talking it over, we quietly agreed that two big dogs, a cat and a baby were probably enough, so he didn't encourage the stray to hang around. Clance thus became King Cat. 

A few years passed. The family moved to a spacious 4-bedroom house.  The two big dogs died. A beagle joined the family and was made to understand that Clance was In Charge. Clance aged well. He was wiry and energetic.  He had the run of the house until they found out that our grandson was allergic to cats. So Clance was confined to the large Master Bedroom, where he spent much of the day under the quilt, impersonating a loaf of bread. Our daughter even had a screen door installed so that the bedroom door could stay open all day. She didn't want him to feel lonely. He was still very much a part of the family. 

A few more years passed. Clance, now in his late teens, seemed likely to live into his twenties. Alas, he was getting forgetful. "What's this box for?" he asked one day. He used the air duct instead, creating a yellow spot on the living-room ceiling that also showed up on a long list of "Things to Fix Before We Sell the House." The year before, our daughter and husband decided their the house was too big and too far away from the husband's workplace. By this time last year, they were planning to put the house on the market in June.

A realtor came by. She wrinkled her nose at the Master Bedroom. "You've got to do something about that cat," she said.  It didn't look like the Feline Grim Reaper was going to visit anytime soon. Anyway, despite his growing forgetfulness, he was still beloved. Reluctantly, our daughter moved him to the basement bathroom. She felt awful about it.  She gave him a comfy upholstered chair and turned on the electric heater to ward off the chill. 

The family went away for a week. When they got back, our other son-in-law called me. "Do you know when they're going to pick up their aquarium?"


I asked my husband, "Why would they get an aquarium when they're getting ready to move?"

"Oh, it's really just a fishbowl," he said. "It's supposed to give Clarence something to look at."

About a month later, Clarence were berserk. He smashed his water bowl and feeding dish. Our daughter was in the basement at two in the morning sweeping up shards of glass. The cat was no longer himself. Heartbroken, our daughter took him to the vet. The diagnosis was kidney failure.

The day after he was put down, a Professional Organizer (PO) was at the house, helping our daughter get a handle on the monumental job of downsizing and moving. I was there, too, helping to take care of their newly-adopted baby girl. The PO was working in the garage and the rest of us were in the kitchen. Suddenly, we heard the insistent meowing of a cat. Daughter and I looked at each other in disbelief. Was there another invisible "Vacancy" sign in the window? The meowing continued. Where was that cat?  Then the PO appeared and pulled her cellphone out of her purse. "Sorry," she said, "That's my ringtone." 

1 comment:

PseudoPiskie said...

Poor Clarence! Tough end of life.