My mum’s sixteen-year-old cat, Callie, died in March.
She was the sweetest little cat. Always was, from day one. Little bit crazy, but only in a “I’m GOING to walk on the curtain rods” way, not a “I’m going to shred the curtains and you’re going to like it” way.
She was so tiny, light, and lithe, she could climb anything, and you’d hear her gigantic MEOW and look around for some bruiser, only to find a matchstick-sized pixie on top of the doorjamb.
Calliekins outlasted all the cats we kids left behind as we moved away from home, cats my mother continued to care for and love, and whose illnesses and deaths she suffered over. Now she’s been outlasted by her pal Sophie, 14 or so years her junior.
Callie would cuddle with almost anyone. She LOVED my Uncle Barry, and the feeling was mutual. And sometimes when I’d stay the night, she’d sleep with me. But Callie was MOM’s cat, she was mom’s best friend, and mom was hers, and they both knew it, from day one. They had this constant verbal and non-verbal conversation that was always going on.
I knew she was getting old, but somehow, I thought that cat was bulletproof. I mean, there was Brian’s old cat, Mercedez, who was on his last legs when Brian married Wendy, but was still alive and hunting on Melissa’s twelfth birthday.
When I heard the news from Wendy that Callie had died… I mean, what do you say? What do you do? I called my mom, and she was just so distraught. Of course.
When we were kids and we lost a pet we had a funeral, and we buried that pet in our backyards, acknowledging the individual nature of the animal, honoring its life and the time we spent together.
Now, that’s illegal. Now, you’re supposed to take your beloved companion, somebody you’ve known and loved for god knows how many years, to the vet for cremation, or pay a service an outrageous fee for “disposal.” It lacks humanity, and it doesn’t honor the attachment or the emotion involved.And my mom couldn’t face that, she just couldn’t, and I don’t blame her. Mom needed somebody to go down to LA and help her take care of Callie the right way, and just to hang out and be there. I wanted to be that person for my mom, because really, there’s been plenty of times when I’ve just been an asshole of a kid. (Sorry, mum.)
It was SUCH a gorgeous drive. I was starting to feel the first twinges of the digestive ills that hit me so hard in early April, and the drive was just good emotional medicine. So was the time with my mom.
We hung out and talked. We watched old movies and slept late. Mom made me steak, and taught me how to make it myself. (Don’t laugh; I had no idea it was so simple.) We had a gentle, quiet, restful time together. And we buried Callie.
My mom has moved away from the house I grew up in, the one with the eucalyptus and the tire, the former drive-through dairy. She bought a two-bedroom condo at the beach instead, and sleeps every night to the sound of the waves hitting the shore.
Since it’s a condo, it’s a little harder to secretly bury your pet, but we managed it.
We went to the nursery and picked out a healthy fuchsia. In her front yard, I dug the hole that mom wasn’t able to dig herself, and I dug it DEEP. I camouflaged the deepness with loose soil that was easily removed when mom and I came out at midnight to bury sweet little Calliekins.
We buried her deep and secret, right where she belongs.