Monday, September 15, 2008


We Miss You Andy

* my apologies to anyone who read this post prior to 10:30 PM CST as it appears my illiterate, possibly drunk, non-spellchecking alter ego decided to post in my stead.

I'd been in Los Angeles for a few months by the fall of 1997. I was lonely, beaten down, and had no business stopping by the Century City Mall "to see a movie" when I knew good and well about that pet adoption fair. I had been charmed by the frisky kitten, the one with the adoring crowd around him, but the facilitator pulled me aside and said that he would for sure be going home that day. What about Andy? He was big and black and three years old. Three strikes against him, she insisted. I was impressed by Andy's calm under pressure, his stillness when placed next to the spastic bunny and the whining German shepherd. I'd always wanted a black cat, a la Cosmic Creepers from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. So I ditched the movie and walked back to my car with "Andy," one yellow staring up at me through the cardboard carrier. We both had our doubts. The only thing I knew for sure was that that name had to go.

We Miss You Andy

Andy liked to curl up in my lap as I spent hours on the phone talking to the boyfriend back home. And then sometimes things got weird. He liked to bite down on my arm like he would a mate's neck, trying to climb astride it even though he had been spade. Repeated calls to the vet yielded little more than a "Already spade? Hmmm..." Fortunately I was wearing a jacket the day he bit down on my arm and refused to let go. I managed to slip out of the jacket and gave the two of them some privacy. His amorous fixation with my arm ultimately faded, freeing up some of that testosterone to assault the neighborhood. He was a tough SOB, picking fights with any four legged creature that dared pass by our lawn. That even went for the dogs he occasionally chased out of our yard. He didn't always win, resulting in several emergency trips to the vet to remove embedded claws, cuts that needed to be bandaged, and for several harrowing weeks, an absess that needed to be drained via a tube sticking out of his chest and a cone around his neck. We tried to keep him inside for his own protection, but he would quickly announce his displeasure by pissing on the carpet and pooping on the wiring behind the TV.

We Miss You Andy

But it wasn't entirely a nightmare scenario. Andy would often accompany us on our walks around the neighborhood, even following us as we walked up to the bars of Wilshire and waiting at the corner until we staggered home. He was gruff and skittish yet as contented as a kitten if you scratched him under the chin. He didn't take crap from anybody, quickly informing our new puppy who was boss by taking the poor dog down in a scrap heap of flying fur and claws. All Andy had to do was look at Murphy after that and the dog would hang his head and get out his way. He wore the mantle of Second Fattest Cat in LA after we entered him in the local Petco’s competition. That title was his until a woman arrived wearing a 20 pound Maine Coon cat around her neck. They got the first place title and free diet cat food for a year. Andy continued noshing on his poulet-flavored Iams and whatever mouse or bird that had the misfortunte to get in his way.

He really flourished after our move to Memphis. He loved lounging in the backyard, and after briefly going missing when our next door neighbor mistook him for a stray and kept him, he adopted her yard as his own. And after years and years of futile resistance, we finally allowed his brother The Kitten to join him in his escapades outside. They played, they lounged, they chased squirrels, and a peace absent from our home in a very long time returned.

I knew something was off when both of the cats had been missing for over 48 hours. When The Kitten came home by himself, I knew something was wrong.

We walked the neighborhood, calling for him. We checked the Humane Society website, but there was no record of a found black cat. Finally Caleb got permission from our neighbor to search her backyard, and that's where he found Andy, down for a nap beside her koi pond from which he would never get up. The Kitten must have sat beside him until he knew it was time to come home. He hasn't known a world without Andy, and he just hasn't been the same since he came home.

We buried him in the yard and said our goodbyes. But I still catch myself looking over my shoulder when we leave for our walks. I have a feeling he's still keeping watch just a few paces behind.

I miss you buddy.


Mom said...

What a beautiful eulogy for Andy......I know how much he really meant to you, for such a long time. In all things, we must be grateful for what we have, for the time we have it.

Josh Perry said...

beautiful piece of writing