Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The last year has, to say the least, been very hard on my family. Last July my parents finished a new house (which my father and brother pretty much built) and moved to a new neighborhood just outside a tiny town north of a smallish city in Northern Colorado. When they moved, they had two horses, three cats and the sweetest dog who ever was. The horses we had since I was about 8 and the cats came along while I was away at college and graduate school. But except for one of the horses, which my brother named, I named them all, even from afar. I have an affinity for names, and there always seems to me to be a right one. As of yesterday, my parents are down to one cat.

The horses (Rocky and Princess--guess which one I named?) were old (25 & 27??). They had trouble getting back up if they layed down, they were stiff and virtually unrideable, and had been for a couple of years. My father finally had them put down when they moved, and I swear, it almost broke him. It seems like he still hasn't quite recovered from the upheaval of the move. My father has literally been a cowboy, and there are pictures of my brother and I on a horse (the momma of our two horses) before we could sit up by ourselves. His identity was tied to that and I think he feels a bit lost now. A couple of years ago he was talking about being in a rodeo again, but I think he knows he's past that now, and I don't think that is sitting well.

A couple of the cats, which I dubbed Thelma and Louise, were really feral and wouldn't have anything to do with my father anymore. They tolerated my mother because she fed them, but they were very skittish. They were barn cats they picked up in Nebraska, picked out of the last litter of a cat that wasn't fixed (until my mom got ahold of her) and had litter after litter. The move back to Colorado wasn't an easy thing, but they managed to bring the cats out here. They went when Mom and Dad moved, and that's as much of that story as I want to know.

After the move that left a small, fierce but loving cat named Socks. And Minnie.

Minnie was a gift from my brother to my mom, a Sheltie Collie puppy he picked up when he lived in Holyoke, which if you don't know, is just east of the end of the world. Despite the fact that he got her for my mom, and I was in California at the time, I named her Minnie. And it fit, it did. She was the sweetest thing, always willing to roll over for a tummy pat, completely excited to see you. She even tolerated the pest that is Ruby-Roo. After an incident where my uncle sort of backed over her a couple of years ago, she has slowed down a bit. She was pretty much completely deaf, arthritic, and not so agile on her feet (Mr. Bump surprised her on our last trip up there, and she fell over).

At twelve, Mom and Dad knew she was getting to the end of her life, and we talked about that over the last few months. They didn't want to put her down, because despite her issues, she still seemed really quite happy. After the move they struggled with not having a way to leave her outside if they were gone (no fence yet), and in the last six months she couldn't make it through the night without having to go. They dealt with it, put down newspapers in the garage, and basically didn't go anywhere. In our last conversation about her a couple of weeks ago, I urged them to take her to a vet to get his or her opinion. Mom made an appointment finally for next week, and I talked to her about it on Monday. She said Minnie was uncomfortable in the morning, but seemed a bit better by the afternoon.

Last night Mom called to let me know they put Minnie down. Apparently she was not better, and by the evening my father had to go and pick her up to bring her in the garage for the night. She had stopped eating on Sunday and had barely drank anything, and by yesterday morning they knew this was pretty much it. It is so sad. Even now as I'm writing this I'm getting teary about it.

I'm not one to look back that much. Nothing horrible has happened in my past, but for whatever reason my brain just doesn't want to do that. But this last year seems to have swept it all away, all the tangible pieces of what my childhood was. Isn't that when we finally grow up? When all the childhood is gone, and all that you can touch of it has left you, to some extent does your youth get tucked away too?

In the end, we are resilient people, and we have a farmhand understanding of life and how it goes. Even now my parents are planning a trip down to Phoenix to see my recently widowed aunt, a trip that is possible because Min-Min is now gone. But we will miss the way she smiled up at you, her whole butt wagging as she waiting patiently but insistently for you to pet her. Rest well, sweetheart.

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