A bit of a scare yesterday when the veterinarian's assistant talked to me on the phone and told me that Tip, my 15+ cat, could not come home on Saturday because his bloodwork didn't look good and would have to stay the weekend. Of course, I went into Doom & Gloom mode, only to get a call a little later from Dr. Young himself telling me that Tip is in great shape for his age, only a little UTI, and I could pick him up any time before 3pm. Ah. Had the assistant mistaken me for someone else? In any case, I was greatly relieved, and it was time to regroup, call off the kitty hearse, alert the grave-digger that his services wouldn't be needed. Cancel the eulogy.
I dated a grave-digger once, at the naive age of 18. He was ridiculously handsome but for all intents and purposes, illiterate. His idea of a Great Night Out was dinner at a tiny suburban restaurant where the food was squeezed out of tubes & dumped from cans but they also served up individual yeasty loaves, which, I admit, weren't half bad.
This grave-digger was also a compulsive gambler, and I spent many an afternoon at the track, placing my ill-planned bets on the grey roans because they were uncommon and beautiful. And, generally, slow. Once I won $10. So much for my gambling career.
The romance didn't last long; there was nothing to talk about, and I like to talk. Good looks only go so far. Then his brother -- no looks, and the ultimate 1975 nerd -- invited me to the drive-in to see Jaws. I laughed through most of the movie while he screamed and tried (in vain, judging from his shrieks) to escape the piscine incisors snapping at him from the screen. That was the end of that.
But getting back to my original theme: death. I have in my possession -- in the garden at the Brandon Street house where my sons live -- my father's gravestone (1918-1966). When my mother passed away, oh, eight years or so ago, we ordered a single stone to mark both their graves, and instead of letting the beautiful blue-glinted marble get recycled -- this was part of my childhood, for god's sake -- I opted to take possession of it. Remnants of not a few felines add a particular, ah, richness to the soil beneath its place beneath the Chehalis apple tree (whose apples succumb to apple maggots in lieu of an annual chemical application). My friend Peter, whose gardening skills I admire, sheaths each of his apples in what I call "footies" every spring, which block entry to those dastardly maggots. At this point, I look at my trees as only decorative, and sweep the apples into the city compost bin.
I like the idea of an actual gravestone in the middle of an urban garden. Hell, I don't even live there anymore, but I certainly feel as if I've left my mark. And all those cats, left buried and unmarked in the back yards of houses I've lived, gone now to bone shard, to amulet and errant tooth. How much more tidy it is to abandon the euthanized pet with the vet for anonymous disposal, to become -- what? Someone else's dinner, I fear.
It's winter, dead-center, and all good cheer has crawled under the gravestone in my garden and has passed out cold. Easter is late this year -- April 24th. I suppose I must wait until then to resurrect any semblance of a jolly good time. If I were more industrious, I'd lay in a supply of footies and make plans to decorate the apple tree with flesh-toned mesh. In the meantime, I'm open to suggestion.