I knew he didn't have much longer to go, as he has slowed down so much, so I took him outside to get some fresh air and to let him play around in the grass. He'd been sleeping a lot, so going outside woke him up a bit.
But he seemed content with this little bit of time out.
But he seemed to enjoy his time outside. He wandered behind the bushes and all around. He wore himself out, though. When he'd climbed the stairs and lay on the porch, I knew he'd had enough and it was time to go back in the house.
And this is my very last picture of him, taken 3 days before he died.
He was laying on the ottoman on his blanket. As usual, he was staring at me hard. His scowl was especially hard in that pic. Yet, he would just stare at me... then he would jump down from his spot and walk over to where I was lounging on the sofa. After much more staring, he would jump up on my lap. I rubbed him until he fell asleep. And sometimes we would listen to some Mahalia Jackson.
But he died on Columbus day, some time in the middle of the night. He hadn't come out of the closet at all the Sunday before (he would usually make an appearance to drink water and hit the litter box), so I knew he didn't have much to time to live. I sat his box, some plastic bags and some gloves next to the closet just in case I needed them. I found him and carefully placed him in three bags and placed him in the box which I had lined with one of my winter scarfs. I taped up the box and later wrote his name and a couple of messages on the box. Then I placed his box in the garage until I could dig his grave in the backyard.
Now digging his grave... that was more than a notion. It was going well until I got down to that red georgia clay. It might as well had been concrete. Between that and the mosquitoes biting the stew out of me, I was done.
So I drove around my neighborhood looking for one of the locals who helps me with yard work. He was supposed to stop through that day, but hadn't due to the rain. So I found him after a few minutes...
... and he came over to finish digging the grave under a tree in the backyard.
I didn't want to stand there while he dug the grave. I played around with Pam (my mazda), which is parked in the back of the driveway next to the backyard. Cowgirl Cre's father had just replaced the brake switch that had broken, and he told me that I needed a quart and a half of oil. So I checked my oil and added more while Mr. Dwayne finished digging the grave. He called me over when he finished.
He asked if I had any last words or requests.
I slapped my arm hard. The mosquitoes were at me again.
"He was a good cat," I said. "He had a good 17 years of life. A good cat, he was. Good-bye Oscar-Tyrone."
And with that, Mr. Dwayne placed his box in the ground.
I held my composure, though. I didn't wail as he packed the dirt down.
"You want me to cut the grass for you?" Mr. Dwayne asked.
"Yes," I said. I had worn myself out from the one hour's worth of digging. I didn't have the energy to mow grass. And I wasn't in the mood.
He went into my garage and got my lawn mower. I stood out there and reminesced for a moment... until I heard the hard whir of the lawn mower.
And that was that.
I still need to go buy a marker for his grave. A nice brick with his name painted on it will do.
I have been fine. There has been a bit of tearing up and sniffling when I am around the house and I am calling Callie Jo "Oscar" by mistake. Or if I see some old pictures of him, I tear up a little. And I guess that is to be expected.
But 17 years is a long time. If that cat could talk, he could tell some stories about me...
"That LadyLee," he would say. "That Oldgirl has done a bunch of questionable mess."
Yes I have. And "mess" is not the word he'd use... He could tell the whole story. Yes indeed.
He was always a loyal animal, as animals tend to be.
I am not much of a cat or dog person. But one thing about animals: they don't judge like humans do. No they don't.
This warrants a song of the week... One that sent me a cryin' while standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes yesterday.
My goodness. I must remove that from my oldschool rap playlist.
Or maybe not.
I will always remember you, good cat.