The Legacy of GeorgeMar 31, 2019
I never cared for cats. As a matter of fact, I can remember warning my husband that I would never adopt a cat while the children were young. I’d worked in long term care facilities where I watched cats attack little old grannies, making them fall, tearing up their stockings, knocking over their trinkets. My cousin was attacked by a cat as a child. I just didn’t trust them.
One day, while our eldest daughter napped upstairs and our 18 month old slept in my lap, my husband walked in with a ginger ball of fluff tucked into his jacket. He showed me his prized possession and I gasped.”Oh no, no, no, no!” My husband explained that he needed to buy a litter box and food bowl and, before I knew it, a cute kitten was resting in my arms. He didn’t move or make a sound until my husband returned.
My husband scooped the cat up and headed towards our eldest daughter’s room to wake her from her nap. By the time he returned, our eldest daughter was holding the cat. She had named him George. She was very excited to introduce him to her sister. She petted his soft, fuzzy fur and her heart filled with love for this tiny creature.
Our youngest woke up. We were all standing around staring at her, waiting for her to notice the cat. We tried to introduce him but she was too grumpy. She didn’t care about the cat. She refused to look at him. She was on the verge of a tantrum so we just gave her some space.
George the cat was taken from a barn up the street. He was the runt of the litter. His eyes were glued shut and his body was thin as a rail. He was always very mellow. He would sit in whatever room the girls were in, watching them play. He was never a big eater. Once in a while, he would disappear into the linen closet for a while. He needed some “alone time”. The girls liked to dress him up and carry him around. They strapped him into the stroller and gave him free rides around the house. On one occasion, they failed to secure the stroller in the open position and George was strapped in as the strolled snapped shut. Poor thing!
I was skeptical at first but he grew on me. George was a great ambassador for cats. He wasn’t any trouble, he was affectionate and he purred as soon as you touched him. He tolerated so much probing from the girls. Our youngest always carried him under one arm, his bottom sticking out on top, his head and upper body hanging down as she walked. He never scratched the girls or bit them. He was a source of comfort for them when they had a rough day at school or when they were ill. George always slept with whomever was sick. He spent an entire week sleeping with my husband when he had the flu. If our eldest was upset, she would ask us to “Find George”.
When George started sneezing blood, we knew something was wrong.It was winter, the house was dry, the wood fireplace was often on, perhaps a humidifier would do the trick. We took him in for tests. The blood work came back and they couldn’t see any reason for concern. We were so relieved. We told the girls it was nothing serious, we would figure it out and he would be good as new. We all breathed a sigh of relief.
When he started running into walls or walking in circles, we realized he had lost sight in one eye. There were more tests, antibiotics, expenses…no answers. His eye started to bulge out. My husband took him to a vet in the States. He called me with devastating news. George had a brain tumour. It was cancerous. The vet wanted to put him to sleep. I insisted that my husband bring him home so we could be with him.
Our hearts were heavy that afternoon, waiting for the girls to come home from school, knowing we would need to tell them the truth. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, break their hearts with the saddest news. Our youngest was in shock. She just stared at George. Our eldest cried and screamed. Her pain was palpable and unbearable.
There was so much information about the healing properties of CBD Oil. We purchased oil and administered one drop twice a day. George was eating and gaining weight. He started grooming again. There was hope. In the Spring, we took him outside to hear the birds, scratch the tree bark and sleep in the grass. He enjoyed the sunlight. We brought him in to see the vet. He couldn’t believe he was still alive. We were feeling pretty hopeful and upbeat until the vet opened the cat’s mouth. To this day, I wish we hadn’t brought the girls with us. We were shocked to see a huge tumour protruding from the roof of his mouth. We took him home in tears, another tough moment.
George was given three weeks to live. We had four months with him. During those months, our daughters went to school, my husband was at work and I took care of George. I held him, gave him his meds and took him outside. On his last day, I was walking around the house with him in my arms. I stood by our porch door so he could hear the birds. I hummed and rocked him. Then, I decided I needed to take a shower. I brought his box in the shower room. Over the last two months, he had been sleeping in a cozy box, lovingly designed by our daughters, filled with pillows, blankets and miniature stuffed animals. As I placed him in his box, he stirred as if he didn’t want to go in the box. I assured him that I would be in the shower right next to him and I wouldn’t take long. I stepped into the shower and, moments later, my husband was walking by the bathroom door and he told me George had passed away. I quickly dried off and felt remorse for placing him in his box. If I’d know he was dying at that very moment, I would have held him longer. My husband and I bathed him and brought him outside in the hot June sun to dry.
When it was time for the girls to come home, his fur was still damp. I had washed his bedding and started blow drying his fur. As I held his stiff body, I felt hot tears sting my eyes. I propped him up in his bed and wrapped him with a blanket. He looked cozy and peaceful. When the girls came home, they knew from our faces that George was dead. Our youngest wanted nothing to do with him. Our eldest wanted to hold his body. She wailed and our hearts broke. We dug a grave for him next to my husband’s shop. We told George how much we loved him and buried him in his box, wrapped in his heart blanket. We later had a tiny plaque engraved for him. The girls and I bought flowers and a beautiful vase. Our daughters’ friends all wanted to come and say goodbye to George. They loved him so much. We kept the girls home from school the day after his death. They wanted to return to school the following day because it was the last day of school before the summer break.
Many tears were shed for George during his illness and after his death. However, we now talk about all the precious moments we had with him. We look at old photos and reminisce. I am grateful for George. He showed me how wonderful cats can be and I witnessed the impact that the right cat can have on the childhood of two amazing young girls.
We love you George!