You might recall my mentioning Smokey, my mother’s cat, a time of two or three over the years in this blog. You’ve seen numerous photos of him. He’s also my model for Rags in the Klepto Cat Mysteries. I chose him partly because I thought it would tickle Mama (it did) and because of Smokey’s purr-sonality. He has a confidence about him that made me believe he could get into all of the trouble Rags does in the stories. He’s an adventurer and he’s full of surprises.
Well, six days ago, something happened to shake up Smokey’s world. My mother, his closest companion for all of his eight years passed away at the age of 97. Smokey became an orphan.
Gone is the only lap he would ever sit in. How he loved his daily snuggle with Mama. He also liked to ride around the house with her on her walker tray. He liked other people—all people—and he was never shy about making your acquaintance with head-bumps against your ankles. The more people around, the happier he was. He also adored petting and just being admired as he stretched out and rolled around in the middle of the floor enjoying an audience.
When Mama got to the point where she needed more care, we brought in a team of caregivers—some of them came either not caring for cats or a little timid about being around a cat. We told them that the cat was the second most important priority in that household. If they couldn’t deal with the cat, this wasn’t the job for them. Smokey is large and in charge and extremely important to us all.
No one walked away and everyone stepped up to the plate in a major way, even giving Smokey his meds when he had a health issue earlier this year. We were delighted that all of the caregivers grew to love Mama and adore Smokey.
How sad it was for all of us to realize that Smokey, in his cat-like way, seemed to be mourning his loss. He was totally off his game and confused and, probably sad. And we were all concerned about what would happen to Smokey. We all want the absolute best for him. As it turns out, although things will never be the same for Smokey, he will continue to be loved and cared for by a beloved family member.
My niece Kathy and her husband, Karl, drove Smokey, who was only about three months old, from my brother’s house in Idaho to live with Mama. They’ve visited often over the years staying with Mama and Smokey. He knows Kathy and Karl well. So when the discussion about Smokey’s future became serious, Kathy and Karl decided they wanted him to come live with them to their new home about three hours away.
Kathy had a plan. She stayed in Mama’s house with Smokey for a few days to bond and to help him adjust there before snatching him up into a whirlwind of change. She took him to his veterinarian for a well-check and a consultation about his condition. She also got additional tips about how to make the transition easier for Smokey and their other cat.
I visited him for, perhaps, the last time Saturday and whispered in his ear that he would be just fine—he is loved. I asked Kathy, tongue in cheek, if we had visitation rights. She said, “Of course, Smokey is everybody’s cat.” And that pretty much sums it up when you consider that he has been cared for and loved over the years pretty much by a village.