Not deferential enough: A death in the family

Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: A death in the family

by Gina Hamilton

It was almost six in the morning when Chris woke me up.  "It's Mr. Fierce," he said.  "He doesn't look good."

Chris said he waited as long as he dared before coming to get me.  We knew that Fiercy was ill, of course, and that the illness was terminal.  But after a brief scare on Christmas Eve, Fierce seemed to rally, a little.  He was in no pain and was genuinely happy to be around us.  But that morning, two weeks ago Friday, it was the end at last.

I ran down to him.  He lay on the loveseat, draped in his little green fleece blanket, with a dog on either side of him, standing guard.  He was having trouble breathing, and was crying.  I sat next to him, told him I was there, kept talking to him of my love, and put my hand on his back, gently rubbing him, until I finally noticed that his heart had stopped beating and he wasn't breathing. I gently closed his eyes.

It wasn't until I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and Mr. Fierce wasn't there to demand milk that I lost it.

Mr. Fierce, born in August of 1999, died, surrounded by family and friends, in February, 2013, after a long illness.  He got his unusual moniker as a bit of a joke.  When we first brought home the teacup-sized kitten, his head was so large that he would tip over while chasing carpenter ants across the carpet.  "Oh, Mr. Fierce," we'd coo at the tiny animal.  He had another name at one time; danged if I can remember what it was. 

He was not sweet, or cuddly, for long.  He could be one mean cat.  He bit my son and heir once, and me, once, when he was feeling his oats, and we hadn't taken him in yet to be neutered.  Once he was neutered, that behavior ended, but he growled at the dogs, the other cat, people who visited the house.  He caught birds on the wing.  He was a good mouser. He caught voles.  Once, he brought down a baby squirrel that had been left behind in a closet upstairs.  Surprisingly, he didn't kill it ... he brought it to me to try to care for it.  We found a squirrel rescue place to take it that day.

By the time Gracie the Puppy joined us, I think Mr. Fierce was tired of being Fierce.  He was much calmer and more relaxed.  It might have been the beginning of his long battle with liver disease, but I like to think he saw Gracie as the granddaughter he never had.  Or maybe he just realized that life was too short to be angry and rude to everyone.

When he was ill or injured, he let me tend him.  I think he trusted me to save him.  I know he waited for me to be there before he chose to die.

I wrapped him in his green blankey, woke my son and heir to say goodbye to him, and then took him to the vet, where they had to pry him out of my arms.  The blankey they returned to me, but it's still in a trash bag on the floor of the car.  I haven't been able to touch it yet.  My son was more upset than I knew ... he called in to work that day.  I got home and we talked about Mr. Fierce and his life.

Yesterday, I brought Fierce home, in a small silver canister.  He's on the mantle in the library until spring, when we'll return him to the earth over by the shed, and plant forget-me-nots over the place where he rests. 

I miss my kitty, but life does go on.  We brought home Sylvie on Thursday, a tiny rescue Maine Coon cat, and she's doing her best to fill the void in all our hearts.  It's almost as if she knew us all before she came.  She's unafraid of the dogs, the parrot, or us.  And she appears to be a very good mouser, too.

 

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