Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 723
Tigger will die by lethal injection 39 minutes from now at 12:15. I will not be there, though everyone else will be. The Maternal Unit said she thought I was traveling, and she might have, but I find her somewhat convenient in what she does and does not reveal. Transparency is not a word I would use here, and I probably deserved such a few years ago. Nonetheless, I cannot drive to Greensboro from Raleigh in under an hour.
Tigger is a month over 16 years old, which is getting up there for a country cat. His mother was run over by a car when he was two or three days old, and we adopted the litter, all with closed eyes, and started feeding them with bottles.
Did you know that a mother cat licks a kitten's bottom to make it pee and poop? We used warm washcloths.
Tigger's official name is Bigger Tigger because there were two tiggers in the litter. The other tigger was named Littler Tigger. Bigger Tigger is the sole remaining survivor of the litter.
In that movie, we learned that the most wonderful thing about tiggers is that tiggers are wonderful things. We were also told that there can be only one tigger at the time, though that rule has either been changed or abandoned as I frequently notice now multiple tiggers bounding about.
Bigger Tigger was always there to give out bites and scratches as people needed them. He didn't permit much nonsense from people, other cats, chipmunks, birds, and especially rabbits.
I reluctantly agreed to the euthanization of Tigger yesterday. Apparently, #1 Son agreed this morning with news of a large tumor being found in Tigger's tummy. Do you suppose that the vet knows that only one other hand has ever touched that tum and survived, that other hand being mine? Many others have attempted to touch the tum, but they all were met with claws and fangs.
There was talk of bringing Tigger home to die. I suggested that would be cruel, more cruel than the lethal injection. He would be to force feed and medicate, which would only be torture for the old man. I like to think this thinking is correct. Let's call it compartmentalization, but I'm not very good at it.
We adopted the kittens directly after moving to Jamestown. I doubt #1 Son and Daughter remember a time without Tigger. The neighbors were none too pleased to see so many cats in the yard. Tigger has lived for years with a pellet in his leg. A neighbor shot him. We learned about the pellet a few years back when Tigger was x-rayed for another problem. I wouldn't mind having a brief word of prayer with that neighbor.
Tigger is known to the vet as a gray tabby domestic short hair. Although that is technically true, it leaves a lot left to be told. For example, Tigger has venomous claws. He can also selectively push one claw through your skin to remind you to leave the tum alone.
Tigger will die surrounded by people who love him as the family he is. Josh has already dug the grave. Judy has selected a stone. Lil I know has a mind meld with him to see him through the doorway.
Oddly, sitting here feeling all this from so far, I am reminded that I anticipate dying alone or at least in the hands of uncaring strangers. I'm glad Tigger will get better.
All hands on Tigger. The most dangerous man I ever knew told of holding his Ming while she was euthanized in his living room. He cried.
Facing mortality in any form is a life changing moment.
Tigger is asleep. That's the first step. He will die in his sleep. Being old and frail, he won't last long.
Tigger is dead.