(Tannin – above)
It seems as though I am saying “Goodbye” to pets much too often these days. Between my sister, my nephew and me, we have said “Goodbye” to four beloved pets within about an eighteen-month period- my sister’s dog [The Good] Damon, my nephew’s [Gentle Giant] dog Diesel, my [Nurse Kitty] Tulip and her sister [Blackman 275] Tannin. It is heart-wrenching to say farewell to pets who are really family members, who for many years have stuck by our side through thick and thin. It is even harder to make the inevitable decision to have a pet put to sleep to end its pain and suffering. It seems there are many times in life in which the hardest thing to do is also the best and most loving and completely unselfish thing to do. Saying farewell to Tulip and Tannin, my “purrfect” housemates for about seventeen years was heartbreaking. However, they have left me with so many happy memories, all of which make the difficult times all worthwhile.
(Tulip – below)
Tulip was my “Nurse Kitty” who always had a watchful eye on the visiting nurses who came to see my dad and mom. My parents came to live with me when my dad had a severe stroke, so that my sister Jane and I could care for their needs. Tulip was always in the room watching the nurse with my parents or “checking” her paperwork on the dining room table. My sister and I will never forget the day my mom passed away. [My dad had already passed away eight years prior]. Tulip was in my mom’s room, moving from one end to the other, as though she was waiting for something. When the nurse and caregivers had finally gone out of the room and only Jane and I stayed, Tulip jumped on Jane’s lap and onto our mom’s bed and to lie beside her. Tulip wanted to say “Goodbye” to her. Jane and I looked at each other in utter amazement. How did Tulip know she was gone? It was what I call a God-thing!
Tulip was also quite generous. Because she was an indoor cat, she did her hunting in the cellar. She would gift me with screws, small tools, Mark’s air brushes and old mittens. She could meow with these things in her mouth, as though she was calling, “Come look! See what I brought you from the dark ‘jungle” down cellar. Sometimes, Tulip was too generous when, on three separate occasions, she brought a real mouse to my bed. She couldn’t understand why I was yelling and jumped out of bed so fast. It was 11 p.m. and I would wake my sister and family. I wasn’t watching sports on TV when I normally yell and scream. What was I thinking? Tulip was quite the hunter.
Tannin, on the other hand, would only come up from the cellar covered in cobwebs. Because she was black, my dad called her, “Blackman”. Our dad often gave people and pets his own special nicknames for them, maybe because he couldn‘t remember their real names. Because Tannin had the habit of suddenly dashing from room to room and darting behind furniture and curtains, as though she was being chased by someone or something [possibly “The Red Baron“], my sister and I nicknamed her “Blackman 275” because 007 was taken. Tulip’s favorite person was my mom and Tannin’s favorite person was my dad. Tannin would often climb on top of him in bed and lay on his belly. One time, after my dad passed away, my dad’s brother and his wife came to visit my mom. When Tannin saw our uncle, she was beside herself and kept rubbing against his legs and wanting to jump on his lap. Normally, Tannin stayed away from strangers and especially men. But, she either thought my uncle was my dad or she knew that he had a special connection to my dad. This was another God-thing!
Tulip and Tannin were close when they were kittens. When Jane and I first brought them home, after I had finished typing on my word processor, I looked for them, but they were nowhere to be found. I looked for them for about twenty minutes, when I finally noticed a bump inside the back of my recliner. When I peaked inside, there they were huddled together because they were in a strange place and Mommy Kitty was nowhere to be found. It did not take long for Tulip and Tannin to feel at home, especially in my apartment because they had excess to every window, but the bathroom window, and they had “kitty condos” to scratch and to climb. Tannin did try to play the role of Mommy Kitty by trying to wash Tulip with “tongue lickings”, literally. But Tulip would have none of that and would escape Tannin’s hold on her and run far far away. This did not deter Tannin from being Mommy Kitty. One time, Tannin was running in a frenzy from window to window and didn’t stop until I looked to see what was “out there”. When I looked out the dining room window I saw Tulip outside, in the bushes. Someone must have left the side door open, and when I opened the side kitchen door for Tulip to go do her hunting in the cellar, she instead went outside. I called my sister and she was able to return Tulip to safety. Tannin knew “it was a jungle out there” because of the busy street we lived on. Tannin was looking out for her sister Tulip. I believe this was another God-thing!
When both my parents passed away, Tulip and Tannin were great comforts to me. It seemed like they would take turns giving me “pet therapy”. It’s like they were saying, “Pet me and you will feel better.” Tulip was the one who adopted me. Originally, Tannin was my kitten and Tulip was my nephew Noel’s kitten. We got them from the Waldens, church friends, whose ministry is providing the best kittens ever to those in need of kittens. Tulip would come downstairs to my apartment to visit her sister Tannin. There were window views everywhere, which must have been like “kitty heaven” to Tulip. After awhile, when someone came to bring her back upstairs, she hid in the closet or behind the couch. One time, she even crawled through a hole in my sister’s stairway, which was being remodeled, and walked out of my closet and into my living room. She escaped! After awhile, Noel lost interest in having a kitten, so Tulip stayed with Tannin and me.
It’s fascinating how siblings are so different from each other. I have two sisters and a brother and we are all different and unique individuals. God made us to be our own unique person. It would be rather boring if we were all the same. This is also true with animals. Tulip and Tannin had their own unique personalities. For instance, because they were long-haired cats I would bring them to the groomer in the spring, to get “lion cuts”. This helped get rid of the any nasty mats in their fur and also made them “cool cats” during the summer months. When they came back from “The Spa”, Tulip would be mortified and hide in the closet, but Tannin gave us a real-life “purrrfect “example of a “cat walk”. Tannin pranced around to show everyone how beautifully stunning she was by showing off her new hairdo. Another example of how different they were was Tulip was more of a “lovey-dovey” lap cat who loved to be pet, came when she was called and would tap me or anyone with her paw to get our attention [first time without claws, second time with claws]. On the other hand, Tannin was a cat’s cat who came to you only when it was her own idea. It took awhile for Tannin to warm up to people, but when she did you had a friend for life. For example, when my friend Pam first tried to pet Tannin, she hissed at her and didn’t want Pam to touch her. After awhile, when Tannin got to know Pam, whenever Pam came over, Tannin would always climbed up on Pam’s shoulder to get hugs. Finally, Tulip was more of a box cat and Tannin preferred baskets.
As they got older, Tannin and Tulip were not very close. However, they never fought and they respected each other’s space. They were good at sharing and taking turns. Tulip liked to be on my [her] bed and kept me company while I was working on the computer. She also shared the bed with me when it was time to go to sleep. Tannin kept me company when I was watching TV, in the living room and would take “cat naps” with me on the recliner. In 2012, I was very sick and was hospitalized several times. When I finally was well and came home to stay, Tulip and Tannin both slept on the bed with me for awhile because they were happy I was home and well again. Even though normally they barely crossed paths, when Tulip had to be put to sleep in September 2014, Tannin seemed lost without her. She would find unusual places to hang out; places she never went to before to lie down. First, she went to lie down on top the mantle of my fake fireplace. Then, she decided she liked being under my fake Christmas tree. Sometimes, she would nibble on a branch, but most of the time she would just lie there and look out. She became my Christmas Kitty. I tried to think nothing of it.
But Tannin’s unusual behavior worried me. When Tulip was getting sick, she picked unusual places to lie down. First, it was near her food, which was near the door going up to Jane’s house. I had to call Jane and tell her to let me know if she was coming down, so that I could move Tulip. Next, Tulip chose the shower to lie down and next the shower room floor. Both were near the litter box in the bathroom. Even though she was not herself, when someone brought her to the couch and petted her, she still had the loudest purr ever. You could hear Tulip’s purr from the other room. But, Tulip stopped eating, drinking and voiding. She was saying that it was time for her to go. I knew she would go first because she was born with a heart murmur and had feline allergies and had to get steroid injections about every three months. I said “Goodbye” to my faithful, fury, feline friend. After Jane and I took Tulip to the vet for the last time, I was sitting outside on the porch, looking up at the clouds, asking the Lord to comfort me. Up in the sky, I saw a cloud formation that looked like Jesus with Tulip in His lap and she was getting ready to pounce on something. Whatever
I saw, real or imagined, the Lord did use it to comfort me. It was another God-thing!
Tannin was doing okay up to the end of December of 2014, despite the strange places she went to nap. But starting in January, I noticed she was having trouble eating. When she bit into her food pieces would spray onto the floor. Tannin was losing weight. I tried to help by changing her cat food to one that was for older cats, with natural ingredients and easier to digest. She did well for a few days and seemed to like the new food, but the improvement didn’t last for long. She was having trouble eating and drinking and would only stare at her dishes. She also began to meow from out of the blue. She wanted more attention and would climb from under my computer keyboard into my lap and up onto my shoulders. When she did this, I would finish what I was doing to spend time with her. When Tannin stopped voiding, I knew she was telling me it was time for her to go. I said “Goodbye” to my faithful, fury, feline friend on February 19, 2015, as I did to my “Nurse Kitty” Tulip last September. Tulip and Tannin enriched my life by always being there for me. They were truly my loyal and loving friends. I thank the Lord for giving them to me and making them part of my life for almost seventeen years. It was truly a God-thing.
The veterinarian sent me a lovely card with the following poem:
Four Feet in Heaven
(By Alice E. Chase)
Your favorite chair is vacant now
No eager purrs to greet me
No softly padded paws to run
Ecstatically to meet me.
No caring rubs, no plaintive cry
Will say it’s time for feeding.
I’ve put away your bowl,
And all the things you won’t be needing.
But I will miss you little friend,
For I could never measure
The happiness you brought me,
The comfort and the pleasure.
And since God put you here to share
In earthly joy and sorrow
I’m sure there’ll be a place for you
In Heaven’s bright tomorrow…
Do you believe that our beloved pets have a place in Heaven? This is a topic for another time. In the meantime, my friends and family are helping me during my grieving process with new puppies to pet and play with; caring emails, phone calls and visits; and roses, tulips and hyacinths that fill my living room with the fragrances of Spring. Thank you all! How wonderful is God’s creation! The promise of Spring is a God-thing.
“If of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
Alone to thee are left,
Sell one and from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul.”
(Muslihuddin Sadi, 13th Century Poet)