Sunday, January 15, 2012
The year has just begun and I’ve already lost a friend.
My sister’s cat, Tuxedo, crossed that Rainbow Bridge after suffering a stroke and left this life on the same day our father did in 2007.
Tuxedo had a heart condition and the vet had warned my sister that he could go at any time. But that doesn’t lessen the pain of losing him.
I had a special fondness for Tuxedo. I used to drive him and his brother, Smokey, to their vet's office in Manhattan. They weren’t happy about being packed up in their cat boxes and hauled over to the city, but it had to be done.
Both Smokey and Tuxedo were very shy around strangers and would run like hell whenever I came over. Often the only sight I had of them was their rear ends disappearing under my sister’s bed.
But Tuxedo surprised me one night shortly after our first vet run. We were sitting in the kitchen and he came walking in like he owned the place. And being a cat, of course, he did own the place.
I was stunned because usually if I wanted to see him, I’d have to get down on my knees, lift the blankets of my sister’s bed, and peer into the darkness. And now here he was out in the open.
But then it got even crazier when Tuxedo walked up to me and jumped right into my lap.
Okay, now I was completely speechless—no wisecracks, no jokes, no words whatsoever. I was too shocked to say anything.
How could this cat who was once so terrified of me now suddenly feel so at ease in my presence?
Up We Go
I didn’t think he knew that I was his driver, since he was in the cat box the whole time, but maybe he identified me by my voice or my scent, or used that animal ESP that I hear so much about. In any case, he made me a very happy man just by performing that simple act.
And now Tuxedo’s jumped into God’s lap.
That’s trouble with pets. They give us so much love and devotion and yet they’re only with us for such a painfully short time. It doesn’t seem fair.
Tuxedo was gone by the time we got to the animal hospital. While we waited to see him one last time, we heard a woman sobbing in another part of the building, indicating that someone else had lost a loved on this night.
My sister was very rightfully concerned about how Smokey would handle the loss of his sibling. The vet suggested rubbing a cloth over Tuxedo’s body so Smokey could get his brother’s scent.
The only problem was we didn’t have any cloth. I was wondering what to do and then I looked down at this ratty old scarf I’ve had since the Carter Administration.
I’ve been meaning to toss it for years, but each spring I throw the thing back in the closet and forget about it until the cold weather comes back.
It was time to break the cycle. Instead of just trashing this old garment, we’d use it for a good cause. I pulled the scarf off my neck and handed it over to my sister. She rubbed it over Tuxedo's body and now it belongs to Smokey.
I have a new scarf now and it’s a real beauty. Every time I put it on I like to think of a good friend who made me feel so special and whom I'd gladly drive to the ends of the earth and back.
Thanks, Tuxedo. And rest in peace.