End of an Era

The Era of Chuck.

Aka Monkey.

Aka The Orange Menace.

Aka The Boy.

Aka The Old Man.

And he was old.  18 years.  Amazing really, but not enough.  This is the last photo I took of him.  Again, not enough.

Chuck 1992-2010

My heart is broken and my life is surely poorer without him.  For 18 years he made me smile.  Made my heart light up just for seeing him.  His little pink nose.  His bushy, bottle-washer tail.  The times I made his toes bloom.  How can a cat take up so much room?  I knew it would be hard to lose him, but I had no idea it would be so intensely devastating.

Here he was last year making a wicked awesome face.

Can't ya see I'm busy here?

How can an animal, a mere pet take up so much space in a person’s life?  Chuck did for me.  I got him at 11 or 12 weeks from a friend of my mom’s.  I wanted a male orange cat and her cat’s litter included one so I jumped at him.  I think she was a little annoyed at my insistence that he stay with his mom as long as possible, but I think it helps mature them and make them more independent.  Certainly I did not want a needy cat.  And I didn’t get one.  Chuck was his own creature; beholden to no one (unless you had something yummy on offer) and I loved that about him.

Chuck is suspicious I'll ruin his nap.

Even though it’s quite frowned upon now, and almost considered abuse, I let Chuck go outside (although not at night).  He craved it and was impossible to live with when confined.  It wasn’t always this way.  His first taste of the outside was an accident.  He leaned up against the screen on the second story porch where I lived and fell out.  Hours later it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen him in a while and went looking.  Soon I found the pooched-out screen and raced outside calling his name.  Soon he appeared, scared and shaking, from under a lilac bush.  Meowing pitifully he ran to me and clung with a fierceness that pierced my flesh and my heart.  As soon as he saw the open front door he launched himself off my shoulder and up the stairs.  It would be a couple years until we tried the outdoors again.

In no time, I could barely get him inside.

Chuck lounges under the quince in April 2004.
Chuck pants in the heat of summer 1995.

Things Chuck liked –

  • Me and my husband
  • Outside – he didn’t go far, but liked to be out all day
  • Beef jerky (we made our own and he’d maul you for some)
  • Pancakes
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Cheez Its
  • Tuna
  • Sleeping on my head and taking up most of the pillow
  • Coming to see me outside and hanging out for a while
  • The bushes by the corner of the house
  • Privacy
  • Chin scritches
  • Purring – damn, he was the best purrer ever.  Loud and strong.  What a motor!
  • The sun and breeze on his fur
  • Smooshy food (I fed him canned food the last year of his life and boy did he love it!)
  • To destroy carpets

Things Chuck did not like –

  • Other people
  • Larry and pretty much all other cats
  • Deep snow
  • Heavy rain
  • Riding in the car
  • The cat carrier (shadows of things to come)
  • Vegetables
  • Being kept inside during baby bird season
  • The vacuum cleaner
  • Being scooped up and taken indoors just when it just got dark and interesting out
  • Playing baby kitty
  • Me making his toes bloom
  • Having his feet touched
  • Me making him do Elvis
  • Having messy fur

I don’t know how to end this post.  My heart is heavy and I’ve cried a river of tears for him.  The weight of the grief is the heaviest I’ve ever felt and I will mourn him for a long time.  Possibly for the rest of my life.  Oh my Monkey Boy, 18 years wasn’t nearly enough.  I miss you terribly.

Chuck in November 2005 - he's the color of pine needles!
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