What a crazy past eight months. In case anyone cares and has been quietly checking in, I've been off-line for eight months. The phone jack died and I was waiting to move into the house that was being remodeled-"December 1st" They said, then the 1st of each month until finally on 1st May they said, "OK, move." I kept thinking I'd save the effort to be home when the phone company finally showed up to repair the fried phone jack by just having the new place wired fresh. But the move date was delayed over and again, and with everything going on, I just didn't care much...But the cable guy just left, and I am finally watching real TV again-oh Lord, why did I think I could be happy without CNN and TWC?? And the Internet.
Where do I start?
Where do I start? I keep asking myself that, I have for years, really.
Where do I start?
In the middle, I guess.
Gator died 8th Febuary 2007 at 2111 hours-one week to the day and minute of his stroke. A stroke, we later determined to have not been a stroke at all, but his body finally collapsing under the horror of tainted dog food.
I lost the dog who huddled with me eighteen hours in a storage facility apartment bathtub during Hurricane Ivan, the dog I didn't realize was after all really MY dog until the last week of his life, the dog who until his last hour of life kept trying to face the door and somehow managed to convince me that he was holding on until Fox FINALLY came through the door; I lost that gallant and wonderous dog to the contaminated pet food horror.
I kept telling myself that he died of old age; the vet and my neighbours were so great, telling me what a great dog mom I'd been because right up to that last day he was on his feet, Gator was a right handsome and happy dog.
I told myself that Time killed Gator-he was three months shy of 13 years old when he went down and Boxers generally don't live that long, but it wasn't Time after all. The little whisper I'd been hearing in my head the last week of his life became a roar on that day in March when I checked CNN online during my lunch hour-"It's the dog food."
My wonderful neighbours took turn hacking out a grave for Gator on the hillside behind the tin shack. The ground was frozen solid, and it took us three days to get a hole deep and wide enough for the remains of a 100+lb Boxer.
I had to find the macabre humour-the body, wrapped in a blue tarp left over from Ivan, hung over the site for three days at a weird angle. It gave the newest neighbours, who leased the house behind me the day before the dog died and who moved in the day after quite a start to see the blue tarp obviously wrapped around something person sized (that was a BIG dog) teetering over a partially dug hole, and several shovels standing about.
As the hole got bigger (thanks to the hour here and there each of the men in the neighbouring families contributed, including the new guy who lent a hand after ensuring the body was a dog and not a, you know, person-"It is a dog, right? Right?" is how one of my other neighbours likes to recount it when we get together to watch the fireflies every evening...), owing to the lay of the hilly area I live in, the body teetered more and more precariously, and we all agreed the morning we finally got the thing finished that was a blessing considering how damn tired we all were from employing pick-axes and shovels for so long because now we could sort of slide the body into its final resting place and save ourselves having to lift and lower.
And then he was buried, and I went inside after raking the entire back yard to make his grave yard look less harsh.
Where do I start?
He was the last living being who knew me from before up here in North Georgia, the before when I was a homemaker and trying to keep my family together; the before when I was trying to keep my son from self-destruction...No-one else here knows me.
When the little house the landlord was remodeling became the place I would be moving to upon its completion, Gator was still living and hale. I worried because he would have to negotiate two narrow stairs in and out of the house, but I knew it would be better all around, and he would gain from the mild exercize. He was going to have his own fenced yard again...finally, for the first time since 2001.
Of course he'd been dead for a few months when I finally moved. I really hated the tin shack, but I didn't want to leave the place in the end because Gator was still there in a way-his corner, his favorite begging spot, his ...
(I can see his grave from the new place. That helps, I guess. The new tenants of the tin shack are great, and respect his grave.)
But I was coming home to emptiness, truly, finally no reason for anything. When Gator passed, I lost the last member of my family. I started feeding the stray cats, and grimly laughed to myself that I would lose my sanity.
And then came Mozart.
The people who'd moved in during the burial of Gator moved out, leaving behind a young ginger cat they'd adopted from the local shelter.
And this ginger cat was determined to be the only cat feeding from the cat food I was putting out for the strays.
I left the front door open one warmish March afternoon and in he strolled, making himself at home.
I shoed him out at the end of the day when I closed the door. The next few weekends I let him in, leaving the door open. If any of the others tried to come in he quickly bowled them back out.
But the first weekend in April, after making sure the old owners really didn't want him, I didn't shoe him out. I closed the door and he looked at me, I looked at him, then he curled up on the footstool and never tried to get out.
He watched the PBS broadcast of 'The Magic Flute' with me that first two hours he was in the house with the door closed; because he seemed genuinely interested in the production, only losing interest when the PBS plea-for-funding interrupted the program, I named him Mozart. I mean, come on, what else could I call him? Puccini?
I had a bag of cat litter because I use it in the car ashtray; I went down to the Publix and got him some Kitten Chow, a feed bowl, a cat pan...some toys.
That is one spoiled cat.
Thank-God for Mozart.
Where do I start? Well, today by cleaning out the litter pan.