So, you learned the other day about how Bobby became a member of our family and part of our home. It came as no real surprise to us that Bobby put on weight exponentially over the next few weeks. He had “been there, done that” with starvation, and he was making up for lost time. He soon did something else for us, however. Our dear 3/4 Siamese cat (all black), Figaro, was nearing the end of his life, being 17 years old. He stayed fairly spry up until the last few weeks of his life. We started noting that he had essentially quit eating. Our Vet gave us a number of different “high-protein” gels and pastes that we were to apply on his lips, in the hope that he would lap it into his mouth. He didn’t. We had to clean off his face after a while when we realized he was refusing it. He did not appear to be in any pain, and still purred (loudly), and sought out our company. But Bob knew that Figaro (Figgy) needed him, and Figgy came to rely on Bob totally for his bathing, and comfort. We would frequently find them curled up together, with their “arms” wrapped around each other. Around this time, when Figgy would go outside he would stay out for longer and longer periods. We were concerned for him, and Ashley would go outside looking for him, and eventually he would walk in or allow himself to be carried back home.
Figaro kept getting thinner and thinner, and kept trying to leave, and we knew it was a signal for us that his death was imminent. Finally one Sunday morning we were leaving home to go to church. As we were readying ourselves to go, we noticed Figaro slowly making his way down our long driveway. He would take a few steps, then sit and rest, and then a few more steps, and so on. The last time we saw him was through our car window across the wide expanse between the church and the parsonage. He was still making his way down the driveway. We never saw him again.
He knew he was loved, we are certain of it, but sought out privacy in his final moments on earth. We asked our neighbor across the street to keep an eye out for him, because that was the direction he was headed when he left. A few weeks later, our neighbors knocked on our door, and told them that some animal had dragged a carcass of a black animal into their back yard. they wanted us to check to see if it was his body. It was – we knew him immediatly by his long canine teeth. Besides “Figgy,” Figaro had another nickname: “Count Figula.” we dubbed him that because his “canines” had continued to grow through all his years, and they stuck out beneath his upper lips making him look like a vampire cat. We had discussed this with many of our Vets over the years, and they all told us that this happens to many cats, and to not even consider trimming his teeth unless they seriously interfered with his ability to eat. They never did. He was always a beautiful and sleek cat, and radiated good health. He was adored by all of us, including Bobby, Elvira, and Gump – but Bob took especially good care of him, as though he knew that Figgy did not have long to live, and that being the caretaker was his special purpose in life.
We took Figgy’s body back across the street and buried it in his favorite place where he used to sun himself. We put a cross over the site. We never disturb the graves of our beloved pets, but whenever we moved, we took with us the little crosses and put them in our yard or garden. It is our way of remembering a dear life, that brought us joy.
After Figgy was gone, Bob took on some different qualities – and all of them engaging and endearing. For one thing, he discovered that he loved popcorn. Many evenings, Ashley and I would pop a bag of popcorn, pour it in a bowl and take it to bed with us, to snack on as we watched TV. Bobby soon recognized the scent of popcorn popping and knew where it was going. He would hide in a corner, and when he saw us settle into bed, and place the bowl down between us, he would take a running leap and literally dive into the bowl, with the pure bliss of a totally satisfied cat. He managed to curtail our nightly ritual, and to his dismay, we decided to watch our calories, and not partake as often. Oh well – on he went to something else.
About six months after he arrived, I was sitting on the side of the bed. I had not seen Bobby come in, but he jumped rather awkwardly into my lap. I leaned down to stroke him when he let out a yowl of pain, and fell off the bed, and ran into the closet. I knew something was wrong, so after I managed to coax him out of the closet, after having called the Vet to tell him we were on our way. He was in a lot of pain, but he let me carry him out to the car, and then into the Vet’s office when we got there. After an X-Ray, it was confirmed that he had a badly broken hip. He asked if he had been hit by a car. We almost laughed because Bobby had not set his feet out of the house since he had joined us. We figured that he had been “rough housing” with Gump or Elvira, and because of his rapidly added bulk, he landed on a coffee table or other piece of furniture. The ball of the joint had been snapped almost completely off. Our Vet told us that he needed surgery, but that there were two possible outcomes. The surgery involved the complete removal of the ball, and allowing scar tissue to create a new, “false” joint. He said it could go one of two ways: either he would never adapt to the new joint and be a three-legged walker, and endure pain, or he would act as though nothing had happened to him, after a recovery period. Well, Bobby added a third option. He had the surgery that afternoon, came home the next day and he never limped or showed any signs that he had been injured. It was amazing. We had a harder time getting over his surgery than he did!
Before I close out Part 2 and save the rest for Part 3, I’ll tell you one more story about Bob – one that to this day cracks all of us up. Hubs was in charge of the litter box that was shared by the cats. the litter box was in the laundry room, and Hubs was quite good at keeping it clean. It must have been during an extremely busy time at the church, because Ashley was away from home a lot, and the litter box started to “ripen.” Since Ashley was the one who usually took care of it, I just didn’t think of it. (That’s still no excuse for not cleaning it up myself.) One day we were in the laundry room, when we noticed Bob walking over to the “facilities.” He had something in his mouth. We couldn’t see what it was, until we saw him drop it into the litter box, and then walk away. It was one of those used dryer sheets, which must have fallen out of a pile of clean laundry as we were transporting it. Just the way he strolled out of the room was hysterical – he knew exactly what he was doing, and wanted us both to see it. Hubs looked at me, we both had tears rolling down our faces, and said, “Gee, I guess it’s time I cleaned up the litter box!”
One more Part and I’ll finish this tale of Bob. For now, this is enough. . .