I am grateful for the rain that has broken the abrupt cold that still hung in the Spring air. The welcome raindrops that reminded me of the renewal that comes when Winter retreats once more.
I am also grateful for the chance to be a part of a life that is soon to walk the Rainbow Bridge and bask in the everyday sun. I haven’t written of him here enough, but Hobbes is showing those signs that he is soon to leave this world. It will be comforting to know he is no longer suffering as it will be a life-changing event to my psyche and everyday life. Everyone has their stories about their best four-legged friend and I am no different. My Hobbes though deserves at the very least, his own story told.
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to check on my cat, Hobbes. Somewhere between Seventeen and Twenty is our best guess as to his age and his skin and boney physique has gotten noticeably slower, the walking uneven. His voice cracks more than it has before and the moans of pain come more frequently too. Sleeping is still his favorite way to pass the time and he is doing a lot more of it. While I can say all of this, his history says that he is a fighter and could surprise us all even now. But the feelings are the same, his glory days are far behind him, yet his personality will always bring a warmth and humility, and a reminder of our debts of honor.
Hobbes came to us through the ultimate grapevine, our back porch at a large apartment complex. Before he arrived, Aggie and Fish were our two babies, we had them both for over fifteen years and lost them both in a shorter time than we were prepared for. It was tough for a while, the empty apartment, and the constant reminders everywhere. The local cats and raccoons showed up at our back door looking for handouts, but it wasn’t the same. After some time one of the regular cats showed up and began sleeping in a makeshift shelter we set up under a chair. Thinking it was just one of the neighbor’s cats we left it alone for a few days until it became apparent that it didn’t have a home and was trying to get into our place. With a shrug of surrender my wife and I decided to let it in and see what happened? Within minutes it was fast asleep on our bed and we looked at each other and knew what had just happened.
My wife always noted how good he smelled when he got to us. He was well fed, and we did our due diligence to find his owners in a sprawling complex. After a week of no leads, multiple flyers, and a lot of walking we decided to take him in to see if he was chipped and if he was ok. He was already fixed and didn’t have a notched ear, but he didn’t have a chip. Thinking it was the cat we had already named Bobette we soon realized that since it was a him, it wasn’t the same cat since that one was pregnant at one time. The Vet had said he was about four years old at that time and gave him a birthday. That was in 2008 and he has been the finest of friends and guardian angel anyone could have asked for since.
The first thing that we noticed was his ultimately laid-back attitude. When we brought out the carrier to take him to the Vet he just walked right in and waited for us to close the door. The short trip to the animal hospital was uneventful and he let the vet do what they had to, no issues, no freaking out. I was shocked to tell you the truth, the experiences I have had with cats and vets have been all about drama and climbing the walls, oh!… and lots of scratches and cuts. He was a good boy, and he was also polydactyl, he has three dew claws on his front paws which means he has thumbs of a sort and can grab onto things rather well. Living at the complex there was a path behind the units that had woods on one side. I had to walk that way to get the mail or go to the office and Hobbes would often heel right beside me or slightly leading the way. If I stopped, he would stop and come back, or wait for me where he was. I would do the same if he stopped to check something out. That was the first time I began to understand that he was a protector.
Over the years when we have been outside, or talking with neighbors, Hobbes would always be nearby. He would sit and wait and then follow us inside so as not to let anything happen to us. We have spent thousands of dollars in some emergency situations he got himself into, but we never blinked. If we had to do without to have him home and happy that was what had to be. He has gotten into it with raccoons and opossums, birds of all kinds and he liked to bring us the little moles that frequent our wetlands. He was always an indoor outdoor cat and every time he goes outside anymore I have to catch my breath, and hope he returns to us. I know they run away to pass, but I hope we get the chance to take care of him properly.
Hobbes made it on the local news after getting trapped in a storm drain in our parking lot, and the fire department had to come and save him because the grate would just not come off for anything. I took comfort in seeing it took a few of them and they were younger and stronger than I was. Hobbes always took things really well, laid back and the changes he had to make over the years rolled off of him like butter on bowling ball. He has taken off for days at a time, but he always came back. He has been my best friend besides my wife, and we have treated him as our real son, as children were not in the cards for us. It was very hard about a decade ago when Hobbes got ill, our veterinarian didn’t give him long to live. That was where the bond began that broke the notion that we are something other than animals ourselves.
When we brought him home that day we set him on the bed and let him get comfortable. He had been spending a lot more time there, and we wanted him to be somewhere where we could watch him. Except for those times he had to drain his bladder, he stayed there for the next few weeks. During that time I spent hours and hours next to him, holding his paw. My day would be all about making him feel the best I could. I would put water or milk on my fingers and let him drink from that since he was so weak. It was all I could do, he didn’t want the blankets, he just slept, and I just kept on trying to give him my love, and life-force. After awhile he started to turn for the better, and we were elated that he was doing so well. He bounced all the way back at some point, and our prayers were filled with gratitude and hope.
A few years later I had given up drinking, gotten sober, and in the process came down with a severe gastrointestinal problem. That brought about a dramatic weight loss, and at one time many months in bed most of the time. As I was there, so was Hobbes. He stayed with me most of the days, he even put his paw into my hand, and purred close to my head as if he was trying to give me his life-force too. He would listen to me complain and yell at the TV during the day, and curl up under my left arm at night. We bonded so much during those years, and the bonding process with him never stopped for either of us. He was continually showing us something about ourselves, and his endearing energy was contagious. The kindness he showed to other animals at times, and the wonder in his eyes as he stared up into the big world. He even invited someone to live with us, he brought the other cat right in. That is our other cat Frosty now, but that is a story for another day.
It’s hard to imagine new beginnings when so much is ending. My life is more fragile than I thought, and I too may soon cross over as well. Hobbes will always be my guide in this life and in the next is one of my deepest wishes. Even now as he sleeps he gives off a frequency of calm, of that bond, and of our commitment to each other to not give up on the other. I will try to move on the best I can with that commitment in mind because he wouldn’t want me to give up on me either. I hope I can make him proud of me as he watches down, and when he is there when it’s time again to be grateful for the welcome rain.