Monday, October 30, 2006

The inevitable cat post

I realize I haven't introduced my guys. This is Buster:

Buster, as you can see, is a very laid-back cat. I've got pictures of him in this pose before he got snipped, but there might be ladies and children present.

We got him from a friend who found him wandering around his house. He was only a month old, much too young to be away from his mother. He had no idea where she was. We had just lost Bookitty, Deb's cat for 18 years, and Deb had started her first round of chemo and was alone when I was at work, so she was lonely. I told her I had heard of a kitten in need of a home, and she said, "Let's go look at him."

"No," I said. "You say, 'Let's go look at him,' but what you really mean is, 'Let's go get him.'"

She kept insisting we were only going to look at him and might not take him. One look at his still-just-born blue eyes and the discussion was over. (Later, she confessed I was right all along, but didn't want to give me the satisfaction.)

Buster was sick and infested with fleas, and the vet didn't really give him much of a chance. Since Deb's immune system was already weakened by the chemo, I was drafted into giving him baths every other day until the fleas were gone. I've heard horror stories about giving cats baths (Deb said she's rather wrestle an alligator than give Bookitty a bath), but Buster took to water. He's still the only cat I've ever heard of who likes to jump in a shower after it's been used.

Buster is clearly a fighter, though, and he overcame his rough start in life. He's still skittish, though, probably a result of being taken from his mother too soon.

We got Buster for Deb, but somewhere along the line, though, Buster became my cat. I have no idea when that happened. We probably bonded because I was the one who bathed him and took him to the vet all the time. He rushed to meet me when I came home, and he'd crave my attention. Deb loved Buster, no doubt, but she felt left out.

So when one of her friends told her a cat she had just adopted gave birth to a litter, she asked if she could adopt one. As any husband can tell you, a wife only asks you questions like that to make you feel like you're in on the process, not because you really have any to say about it.

Enter Bailey.

Bailey is a more traditional cat. He's the one who'll come out and investigate when visitors are around. He's the one I find on the kitchen counter. He's the one who took the chicken leg from the plate when I wasn't looking.

But he's got those crossed eyes that make it impossible to be angry with him. If he was human, he could force a busload of nuns over a cliff, and a jury would still acquit him once he gave them one of his goofy stares.

She spoiled Bailey rotten, and he responded in kind. Since Deb's gone, he's warmed up to me a little, but I still get the sense he's waiting for her to come home. He sleeps at the foot of her side of the bed, where he did when she was here.

Now they're Buster and Bailey, the greatest cat team since Butch Catsidy and the Sundance Kit (sorry about that).

Before she died, Deb made me promise that if I ever felt that I wasn't up to taking care of the cats, I would give them to someone who would take them both and not separate them.

Like I could.

They're my guys. They keep me from coming home to an empty house. They keep the house from being too quiet. They keep me from getting too lonely.

They're another thing I've have that I thank Deb for.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Singing Butler

I've got a new picture over the fireplace. It's called "The Singing Butler" by Jack Vettriano.

The original recently sold for more than $1.4 million. When you look up the artist on Wikipedia, you find out he apparently copied the figures from a artists' reference manual. In journalism, that kind of thing gets you fired. In the art world, it gets you rich. Go figure.

I told Deb I wanted to get the picture because I felt it symbolized what she and I had to do during the whole cancer thing. Yes, it's stormy outside, but we've got to keep dancing.

She agreed, but I couldn't get the picture until now.

Now it symbolizes what I feel she wants me to do and what I think I have to do. Yes, it's still stormy, but I'm trying to hear the music again.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A little photo album

Time for some pictures.

Here's Deb with the legendary Bookitty, the cat she kept alive for 12 years with daily insulin shots.

Here she is on the ferry from the Magic Kingdom parking lot to the park. She hated having her picture taken, but it's still one of my favorite shots of her.

Here she is during one of the park's Christmas nights. She always made friends wherever she went.

This is the last picture of us and the last picture taken of her. It was taken by our friend Matt when we went to Disney World. It was two weeks before she died.