Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Loss in the Family

To your left, you will see one of my favorite pictures of one of the nicest pets we've ever had in our home, Samson. We adopted him almost ten years ago while we were still living in my Mom's old house on Wehmeier Street in Columbus, Indiana and our long-lived cat Demon, by now age 16, was still with us. He was actually the house pet of our next door neighbor, but she was looking to give him a better home because her health problems physically kept her from giving "Sam", as she called him, the kind of attention that he deserved. From the moment he saw us pulling up into our driveway, he made beeline toward us, his cropped tail wiggling back and forth on his butt, and you could literallly hear that old 1970's disco tune "I'm Just a Love Machine" filling the air.

Deena, of course, said "No! We're a one-cat household! Demon would go crazy!" So I had decline the neighbor's offer.

A couple of nights later, a big storm broke, so Deena and I, of course, manned the buckets, as the roof at the old house leaked like a siv, and we kicked back to watch some TV on my night off. At the height of the storm, we heard a THUMP at the screendoor that scared the living crap out of us. I looked out, and sitting, waiting patiently, soaked through and through, was Samson, with a meow that sounded like a banshee's wail.

I told Dee who was outside, and she said, "Well, let me get Demon into the bedroom so we don't have a fight."

So I let the little fella in, and Deena came out with a dry towel and we dried him off as best we could. So we gave him some food and water, and after he'd finished that he came back out to the living room and hopped right up in my lap and got ingratiatingly comfortable.

The storm that night was just not letting up, and I suggested to Dee we let him spend the night. Dee rolled her eyes and said, "Okay, but Demon ain't gonna like it."

We let Demon out, he took one look at Samson, gave a squeeky hiss, and got very self-centered in his own dinner bowl.

We went to bed, leaving Samson out in the living room. Well, he wasn't about to have any of that, so as we got comfortable, he hopped right into our bed and squeezed himself into the crook of my arm and immediately fell asleep. I turned to Dee and said, "Can you really say he has no place in our home?"

Deena rolled her eyes and went to sleep.

The next day when Dee and I both got home from work, Samson was sitting right on our little cement porch, waiting to be let in. "Deena..."

The Walls of Jericho finally crumbled. "Ooooooh... alright, but if he doesn't get along with Demon, he's gone!"

I talked to the neighbor, and she immediately handed me a ton of canned cat food, a bag of cat litter, and a bunch of cat toys. He had already had his front claws removed and he was also fixed and had his shots. So he was a pretty much "made-to-order" housepet.

It took about a month for Demon to get used to the new addition. In fact, early in the morning of my birthday, the two of them decided to give Daddy the best gift of all... a pay-per-view event! They nearly tore the house to shreds fighting each other, but the odds were pretty even: Samson had no claws, Demon had no teeth. Finally, after beating the living pulp out of each other from one end of our very small house to another, they seemed to end it all in the kitchen by going to neutral corners.

I poured them both a couple of bowls of milk, and incredibly enough, they walked over to the bowls together and started drinking, side by side.

For some reason, I felt I was in a feline version of the final bar scene in "The Quiet Man".

With a few altercations that didn't last, Demon and Samson got along very well, right up to when Demon's kidneys started failing and he began having seizures. As Deena and I talked about calling the vet first thing in the morning, Samson reached over to Demon's frail little body and placed his paw on Demon's shoulder. Who wouldn't break down upon seeing that?

Not long after Demon passed away, we decided that Samson needed someone else with him while we were both at work. So we adopted a friend of mine's kitten Syryn. Again, difficult to get the two of them to get along, especially since Syryn is really picky and paranoid about any kind of physical contact that she doen't implement. But in time, they could often be found laying down next to each other, catching a nap, or sitting with both of us watching TV.

In 2006, we moved to a pleasant little house on 22nd Str., and with some difficulty managed to get the cats to move in with us. Samson was on his best behavior, sitting on Dee's lap, enjoying the short trip to the new house. Syryn, on the other hand, went absolutely bug nuts. When we got her to the new place, she immediately squeezed her enormous butt under the new dresser drawer and stayed there until all of Deena's family had finished the painting and furniture moving. Eventually, she crept out while we were alseep, started exploring the new house, and designated it as livable.

All while Sampers laid in between us, sound asleep.

Last night, after a long illness, Samson crawled beneath our bed after spending some time sleeping between us, purring softly, and passed away. While Deena and I mourn losing him, we're thankful that he's no longer in pain and misery and that he's now running with the strength of a kitten.

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