Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I am an animal lover but in particular, I'm a cat person.  I learned early on that you either are or you aren't - a cat person that is.  There's usually no in-between grounds. They can, at times, be very temperamental and almost scary to some folks. At the same time, they can learn to walk on a leash, fetch balls of aluminum foil and be very loyal, much like a dog.  Tim wasn't a cat person but learned to tolerate them because of my love for them.  He "married into"  cats when we got married and we've had at least one, usually two at a time our entire married life.

Hershey, our tortoise, long haired cat is 17 years old.  That's approximately 85 human years! She's been around a long time.  Mikayla was 3 when we got her, Katie was 6, Aaron was 9 and Nate was 11. I was 37. Wow. She's lived her entire life in this house that we currently live in. She's always been a primpy, petite little cat almost strutting gracefully as she walks. In her younger days, she was curious, loving to get into places that she really didn't need to in the middle of a bed full of clothes. As she gets older, I regularly find her sitting on an air vent during the wintertime.  I think the warm air feels good on her joints.  And she never gives up the opportunity to beg for the crumbs left on your dinner plates.
When it comes to people in general or our other cat, Bubba, we laugh about Hershey and say that she has to have a bubble of space around her. If Bubba, especially, invades her bubble of space, a hiss will soon follow.  She  loves to find a warm lap to curl up in but it has to be on her terms when she wants to do it. The kids have always said that she is a great "sick cat".  When anyone in the family is sick, she seems to be aware of that and will come to where they are laying down and curl up next to them as if to comfort them.

Animals can be wonderful friends - the kind that love in spite of, the kind that give their human friends the benefit of the doubt, the kind that trusts completely.  It is that trust that led me to decide after several months of off-and-on sickness caused primarily from just plain getting old that I was doing her no favors in prolonging her life. It was strictly for my benefit but neither humans or animal's organs are designed to continue to work indefinitely. I knew that intellectually, but consciously making the decision that enough was enough was painfully difficult even though the reality of her body breaking down and her worsening condition was plain to see.

So on Monday of this week, I gave Hershey a final, long rub on her fragile head - the kind that she would always lean into as if to say "more, more" and Tim, being the wonderfully, sweet man that he is, took her to the vet in the soft bed that she had spent so much of the last year in.  When he brought her home, still laying in her soft bed, we buried her in our backyard, the same backyard that she grew up and played in for 17 years .

If you're not an animal person at all, it's hard to imagine this kind of emotion associated with one. My world in a nutshell changed this week. Animals are animals but when they've been around and a part of the family for as long as Hershey was, they have a way of tugging at our emotions.  Hershey did mine. Monday was a hard day. I'll miss her. But when spring comes, and the flowers around the site where she is buried start to bloom, I'm sure that my memories of her, many of them captured in the photos on this page, will bring a smile.

Hershey being her typical self in her middle-aged days...lazy and stretched out on a friendly lap...not a care in the world.  :)