Miscellaneous Stories and Ramblings
Pink, purple, yellow, all the colors of the rainbow and then some, 100 plus pairs of 4” high heel shoes, small Betty Boop curls held with bobby pins each night just in front of her ears, this is how I remember my Grandma Dory.
At barely 4’10” standing next to my Grandpa at over 6’ she was a force to be reckoned with. She passed this year and yet I see her clear as day. As a small child I loved spending time with her, what little girl wouldn’t with clothes the color of the rainbow and patterns so outrageous they could only make you smile, or embellished with sequins or better yet feathers. But her clothes were not the main attraction; no it was the shoes (she gave Imelda Marcos a run for her money). For years the first thing my sister and I did was run to her closet to play with all the shoes! At such a small stature she was never without a heel, even her slippers had high heels.
Her attire wasn’t the only fascinating thing about her it was the old Hollywood ways about her. Every week she would go to the same hair dresser to have her hair done with all her friends, they would sit for what seemed like hours gossiping and getting their hair washed, colored and curled. Then it was time for a manicure, all in the style of old. She would sleep with her hair carefully sealed up and tight little curls near her ears held in place by small gold or brown bobby pins. I never saw her without lipstick or blue eye shadow, and it was quite a change when she finally let her hair go natural to the gray she had hidden for so long. Her entire being always seemed coiffed to perfection, from her perfect hair to her painted toenails, something an awkward tom-boyish child like me could only hope to someday grow up to be (sorry folks still not there).
Her home too always seemed to be something from the 1940’s tinged with some newer pieces. Fancy frilly dressers and desks, velvet covered couches with scrolled woodwork, fancy lamps, and plates lined with real gold! Kid friendly it wasn’t, but I do still remember that didn’t stop my sister and me from playing and exploring everything.
Her tastes in food seem too to be stuck in some long ago era, everything came in a can, or pre-fabbed. There was only one thing I remember her making from scratch (if you don’t count the canned pineapple) and that was her noodle Kugel; I can still taste it today; I loved it so especially the crusty corners and top.
I remember her too for her poetry, and her teaching me from a very young age how to write verse. Her 29 years as an English teacher allowed her to steadfastly pass down to me, one only too willing to find more ways to express my endless imagination, a love of the written word. We would share our writings until she could no longer do so. She self-published a book of poems, and even has one in the Holocaust Museum in DC. She was one of my biggest fans, going so far as to plagiarize one of my poems as a eulogy for a friend, and telling me afterward.
Thinking about her brings a smile to my face. Thinking that I will never physically see her again brings a tear. But to you my little Graham cracker, from your Chocolate cookie (our silly nicknames my sister was Vanilla cookie) much love.
I look for her, but she isn’t there; not a search as if she was lost but a glance into a corner where she used to lay, or to the blanket or chair she had claimed as hers. I have to bite my tongue and clench my teeth when I leave for work, or come home from a long day; my whole being fights the urge to call out to her. I listen for the sound of her clopping up and down the stairs, or the banging of a door as she pushes her body to open it enough to get into another room. I come around the corner from the kitchen to the living room expecting to have to fight for a spot on the electric blanket but it is bare. I get ready at night for the battle of the bed and I find it is all mine. Who is this she, the one companion who has not failed me in the 14 years we spent as one. She cuddled with me in my times of illness and sorrow. She played and frolicked with me in times of joy. So similar were we, we were almost one. My beautiful Bon Nuit is what I named her. I came to this state knowing few, without a job, not knowing much of what I was getting into in 1993. I did know one thing after years without a pet I was determined to find the one for me. Once the lease was signed on my apartment and I had done some exploring I found the local Humane Society just before Christmas. I was told that they did not allow animals to be adopted so close to Christmas as they did not want an animal given as a gift to someone not prepared for it or screened to accept it, as well as to prevent any undo stress on the animal over the holidays. I was instructed to return right after. Early as always I was not early enough there was a mom and two children in front of me itching to get inside. I patiently waited while the process was explained to me and I was handed my clipboard on which to mark my vitals and the cage of the animal I would like to visit with. I knew I wanted a kitten and had always been privy to grey’s so when I saw the two grey kitten’s in a cage together with bright blue eyes my heart sang. I rushed back to the front area and handed in my clipboard only to be informed the mom and kids in front of me had claimed both kittens, thus unless they didn’t bond I was out of luck. The attendant then asked me if I had seen the other kitten, and I said no. She explained as we walked back into the animal area that there was one more sister to the litter that she had not taken well to people and was the runt but perhaps I would like her. We could not see her at first so we both got down on our hands and knees peering into the depths of the cage, where low and behold was the smallest black kitten I had ever seen, curled in a frightened ball. My heart sang out. I asked if I could visit with her and attendant was helpful but cautioned me again about this kitten not being overly friendly and because she was feral perhaps never being friendly. They put the two of us in room no bigger then a very small closet and there we sat for just a few minutes both looking at each other when we realized that it was love and fate that had brought us together. She crawled up my chest and onto my neck, snuggled herself into my long hair and started to purr. I was done for. I carefully walked back to the front area and said I wanted her. I thought I would be able to take her that day, but no they have very strict rules that required checking my references, my landlord, and finally doing a full vet work up on her. I would have to wait almost a week before I could actually take her home. As the attendant reached up to take her from me, she began to cry out, holding on for dear life to my neck and my hair. Everyone was shocked she had not allowed anyone to hold her and now she had decided she wasn’t going to let go! They all laughed and said it was obvious we were made for each other; they did not know how right they were. Thus our story begins. We moved from apartment to apartment, job to job, city to city. I looked back after my last bad-boyfriend situation and realized I really should have paid more attention to her opinions, she was right on the mark every single time; hating from day one just about every guy who was bad for me. I knew she wouldn’t last forever, but I never thought our time together would end in a flash. I noticed that she was getting older, having trouble getting up and down the stairs. I began to notice she was missing her mark a little more frequently when she tried to get up on the bed or the chair. I tried to ignore it as she like me was always very prideful. Oh goodness and it wasn’t just pride we shared! She was truly me in a cat’s body, right up until the end when she actually took the time to bathe herself for 5 minutes before she would climb in my lap for our final half hour together. She played by the rules, having grown up around dogs I treated her training as such much to the amazement of many cat owners she behaved just as I expected her to. I could leave the front door open and she knew better then to try to leave the house. She could go any where she wanted inside, but knew never to get on the kitchen counters, and that people food was completely off limits. Her standards for cleanliness almost out did mine, refusing to do a bowel in her kitty litter if there was already one there, she would wait patiently every morning for me to clean it out and then immediately take advantage of the litter box. She was head strong and free too, from day one I knew she would never wear a collar, though I tried! I bought her a beautiful red collar and leash to complement her black as night fur, but no! The minute the collar went around her neck it was off. A little tighter to try to hold it in place and she would cry, I gave up too soon I am sure but she never left the house so I figured why burden her with a collar and tags. Gosh, and I remember one day transporting her in a box from one apartment to another! She always hated being in the car and would scream at the top of her lungs until I thought she would loose her voice (I should have been so lucky!). No matter how hot it was I could not roll down the windows for fear that someone would report me to the Humane Society. So on this particular day I was moving from Bellevue to Seattle, thus the car ride was long enough for her to actually chew and claw her way out of the box screaming the whole time. It was then and there I realized that her desire for freedom and being in control mirrored mine. Ah, never have I met a more perfect example of a master and pet being the same! So it came to be that slowly last week I noticed she wasn’t eating much. I tried changing her food thinking maybe it had gone stale, no luck. I watched her closely to make sure she was drinking enough and she was drinking more then ever. She was peeing as required but it was not too long before I noticed no bowels, and then I began to worry. Then I noticed on Saturday that she wasn’t sleeping all night with me, by Sunday I was concerned but she did manage a little bowel so I thought everything was ok. Getting home on Monday I watched her closely brushed her well, feeling her tummy and seeing if she cried out in pain, nothing. It was Tuesday when I reached out to my pet sitter for a vets name, and spoke with one of the women at the office whose partner had fostered animals that I realized even if I lost pay I needed to get her to the vet. I took my pet sitter’s recommendation and some research on the internet taking her to the Cat Clinic in Bellevue (I will plug them now, you could not ask for a better place to take a cat!). They said though they were booked solid to bring her in and they would squeeze in the exam and testing between surgeries. I am not rich by any stretch, and right now I am in debt up over my head due to my extended lack of employment this fall, but I this was my child, my savior, my soul mate so whatever it took. My boss was incredibly kind, and I was careful to make it out and back in an hour so as not to abuse my lunch hour taken early. Arriving at the vets office the assistants were stunned how beautiful she was, how glorious her black coat shone, and how she looked more like a kitten then her true 14 years. I was happy to see that even they could not tell she was ill, as it was already haunting me that I had some how been guilty of missing something, but her outward appearance gave no clue to the inside turmoil we would discover. Now it was just a matter of being patient and waiting for the news, I am not very good at this – the lack of control thing and all. By 1 pm I couldn’t stand it any longer and I called. They said they were examining her now and the vet would call me as soon as they were done. I did not leave my desk, and my cell phone ringer was set on high, though normally at work it is silent. The call came and that is when the tears flowed without control. I ran from the office trying desperately to find somewhere to hide, as I have been told crying at the office is about as unprofessional as you can get. No matter how many times I managed to stop the flow, it was but seconds before it commenced again. The vet and I decided it would be best for Bon Nuit to stay the night, while we waited for the blood work to confirm what we thought from the urine and the exam, that she was very ill. I asked if I could visit her and was granted the ok. My boss again, though not a pet owner, without pause gave me leave early so I could sit with my baby. We spent an hour I will forever be grateful for, just the two of us alone in an exam room, no sounds, no people, no windows, just two who loved each other from day one. I care not what people say I know she could hear me and understand me as I spoke to her and told her I loved her. I left her knowing I would go home alone; trying hard to believe that the urine test was wrong and the blood work would come back fine, but I was not doing a very good job. The call came about 9:30 am on December 5th from the vet confirming my worst fears, not only was she terminal the treatments we had discussed the day before that could have possibly prolonged her life for several years would not work; her kidneys had failed. We agreed that the decision I had come to last night of putting her to sleep if her life would be so altered that it would no longer make her happy was the right decision. This did not burden my heart less; it just made the decision a little more clear. I asked again if I could visit with her and if I could be there when they administered the shots and the vet without hesitation said yes. She even took her lunch hour to drive 30 miles from the clinic she was at that day to Bellevue, to handle the treatment herself (again I can not thank Dr. Rachel Israel, and her team enough). We discussed the options and decided I would simply take home a little of her fur and paw prints pressed into clay. I searched three stores before I found the clay, arriving at the vet’s office in plenty of time to sit with Bon Nuit for one last time. I believe in my heart she knew what was happening what I do not know if her truly brave façade was just that for my sake or if like me her tolerance for pain and her desire not to upset made her as brave as she was. We placed her on the table and she did not move. She continued to purr though three people were around her, and her rear leg was being shaved. She still stayed calm, not crying out or trying to move even when we had to roll her over after failing to find a vein, so that we could shave her other leg and access a vein into which to administer the medications. I did not care what I looked like, actually after hearing the news on Tuesday my eyes have been so swollen I am not sure I will see straight for days, as the tears flowed I held her small head in my hands and she slowly purred finally stopping she was gone. Gone, the one who kept me alive more times then I can say. Gone, the one who kept me here in the Seattle area long after I thought I would, as I could not imagine her screaming all the way back to Boston in the car. Gone, my heart and soul, the only one who has ever loved me without fail, without judgment, just simple pure unadulterated adoration and love, my Bon Nuit. Good night – Bon Nuit!