Thursday, July 29, 2010

Memories of Elmo

Through our lives, from childhood on through, many of us had a number of family pets. Each one of them having their own characteristics, personalities and our memories of them. I had a good number of them in my life time, all with different traits and recollections.

There was our first family pet when I was 3, a Great Dane named Brutus, who jumped through a full length window, shattering it to bits, to chase after a car going by the house. Then there was Shatzig, a Dachshund, who one day while we were out broke into a case of wine my dad had in the utility room, got drunk and got stuck in a pair of my dad's shorts...front end stuck in one leg, rear end in the other. My grandparent's Dachshund Snoozy who drank coffee, Scooter the Scottish Terrier that would attack the end of a hose if it was turned on, and Ozone...a tabby cat who was the best mole hunter. All with unique traits and memories.

Elmo the cat was a special cat. I am not the most loyal cat lover...allergies make it hard, but Elmo was one of my favorites. He was one of two from the same litter that my ex wife and I got shortly after we were married in 1996. We got his brother Goofy first in September, Then got Elmo in November.

Goofy and Elmo were farm kittens that lived on a farm near my ex parent-in-laws near Battle Creek. Goofy was not weened when we got him so I got the doll baby bottle and did the duties. Getting Elmo was tough. We went to the farm and when we were about to pick him up to take him home he took off, ran to the barn and hid. Had to wait until two days later when they finally retrieved the cat from the barn and brought it to us.

Our reasoning in getting two kittens from the same litter was so that they could keep each other occupied so that there would be no mischief. That proved to be a false bit of reasoning when that Christmas while my ex and I were at work they pulled down the Christmas tree and destroyed it and the decorations on it. Pretty hefty work for 5 month-old kittens.

Elmo had the distinct habit of attacking my feet while I was asleep when we first got him. This practice would prove useful when my ex was ready to give birth to the twins in 1997. He kept attacking my feet when her water broke in the middle of the night until I got up. He was very intelligent as well. Most cats when you call their name would be finicky and ignore you, or casually come when they felt like it. Elmo would come right away, always giving a "meow" each time I would say his name.

He had very unique culinary tastes. He loved McDonald's french fries, black olives and tuna. I used to make tuna salad for sandwiches for me to take to work. As soon as I opened the can in the electric can opener he would come and beg for tuna, which I treated him to a couple select morsels each time. After awhile all he had to do was hear the electric can opener and he was there. Even if I wasn't opening a can of tuna, whether chili or a can of coffee, he would still be there begging for his tuna fix.

Over the past couple months I noticed Elmo getting rather thin. I told my ex and she said she noticed it too. Then three weeks ago he slowly walked up to me wanting me to pet him. I bent down and gently stroked his head and scratched his ears. His head raised up as always, stretching his neck out to show his enjoyment of the attention, but then he lost his balance from the neck stretch and fell down on his side. I informed my ex of this and we both agreed that he was not doing well.

The week of July 19th it was my wife's visit week with the kids. This past Sunday she called me to let me know that Elmo was not well at all and she doubted he would make it to yesterday...the day her visit week ended and I would see the kids again. I told her that he would hang on until he saw me.

Yesterday I picked up the kids from the pool and took them to the house. Once there I went to where the kids told me Elmo was. As I came to where he was, I called him by his nickname we gave him as a kitten, "Mosers". He picked up his head from the pillow he was resting on, looked right at me and answered to his name with the "meow" he always did...laboring to get it out, but he still did. I sat with him talking, petting him and scratching his ears, which he still tried to show he loved by stretching his neck.

Today, after picking up the kids from the summer learning program at school and going to the house, Elmo was still hanging on. I called "Hi Mosers" and he meowed...much weaker than the day before. He couldn't pick up his head to look at me, and didn't respond to petting and the ear scratch other than opening his eyes and looking at me.

The entire afternoon, he would meow in pain every so often, and I would go up and check on him. The last time he meowed, I came to see him struggling to breathe. My eyes welled up, I bent down to pet him, and told him, "Elmo, it's time to let go. You were a good cat, and I will miss you. But it's your time to go home and not suffer anymore." With that he gave a weak meow, took one deep breath, then shut his eyes for the last time.

The twins and I dug a grave for him in the back yard near the catnip that he loved to frolic in. My ex and youngest daughter brought Elmo out in a blanket. We then said goodbye to a very unique and much loved cat. We came back in to his brother Goofy staring up at us...looking lost. I petted Goofy and gave an ear scratch. He stretched his neck in approval and looked right at me as I said his name...and he meowed.

I am not a real cat person because of allergies, so more than likely I will not have any more cats as pets in my lifetime. But I will sure remember the last cats that were in my life...Goofy and especially a very unique and intelligent cat named Elmo.

Rest in peace, Mosers.

1 comment: