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Beyond Books: A personal update

puttystar

I’m going to do some thing I’ve rarely, if ever, done on this blog: A personal post with only loose ties to books and reading.

You may have noticed a slight slowing down in our rate of posting on this blog. If you are particularly astute you might have realized that Book Worm has picked up a little bit of the slack for me these past few months and that a majority of our book review posts have been written by her. Life occasionally gets in the way of my reading time and 2016 has been a less than stellar year for me. For the past two months, I’ve been consumed by caring for our cat who was diagnosed with cancer. Yesterday, we had to put her to sleep.

I’ve always loved all animals. I’ve owned turtles, hamsters, dogs, cats, and rabbits, but cats in particular have been very special to me. Sometimes I wonder if I like cats more than people and I happen to like people quite a bit. When I was a child I had a fat gray cat that I nicknamed Cookie despite the fact that his name was very ordinary, (Michael) and other than being round, he looked nothing like a cookie. He was an unusually tolerant cat. He would let me dress him up in Victorian doll clothes and my parents would often come across him in the garden wearing bonnets, flower dresses, and booties. I grew up with him and I used to fall asleep with his front paws around my neck and his face pressed up against mine.

As an adult, I’ve adopted a total of 4 cats. My first was a ginger giant named Simba. He was a whopping 26 pounds when we adopted him and he had the personality of a dog. When he died, I adopted a geriatric cat who lived with us for a year before he passed away. He was awesome but I’m pretty sure he had dementia because he always looked at you like he was seeing you for the first time. Finally, we adopted our most recent two cats five years ago. They were both taken from a hoarding house and had significant health problems.

The one thing my cats have all had in common is their love of books. Cats seem drawn to books. My current (remaining) cat loves to chew on the corners of books and has fairly discerning literary tastes. I knew we were a good match when he developed a sudden fondness for David Mitchell books.

tat book

I’m generally a stoic person. Not much makes me cry but the exception is anything related to the suffering or death of animals. I can’t watch those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA ads nor can I read any books related to animal deaths – forget about Marley and Me. Coming across animal cruelty scenes in books is perhaps the only thing that will move a book into my DNF pile. These past two months have been emotionally very tough as I’ve watched our kitty deteriorate and been tormented by whether or not to pursue treatment or let her go. We did try treatment for a while but it didn’t seem to work.

Putty was a good cat and our most cat-like of all cats: independent and loving on her own terms. She was beautiful but in a goofy way. Her early life experience in a hoarder’s house rotted her teeth and when she was rescued she had to have most teeth removed. So she would fall asleep with her tongue hanging out her mouth. She grew up with my daughter but had less time with her than I had with my childhood cat. She tolerated being chased around the house by both my daughter and her brother (the other cat we adopted). She was a big part of our family and we will miss her.

I’ve spent a good part of the last month crying – that ugly, hysterical, half hyperventilating kind of crying. I’ve told my work colleagues that I’m dealing with allergies – a hard sell when there is snow on the ground and no pollen in the air. I have struggled to read and in particular have struggled to read any kind of literary fiction. This past month I’ve stuck to fantasy and children’s books so you will likely see upcoming reviews for books that aren’t my traditional fare. So bear with me. We’ll get back to regular reading and reviews shortly.

Putty died in my arms yesterday. We are lucky to have a wonderful vet. He came to our house to put her to sleep. I was able to hold her and she purred up until the very end. I used to get annoyed by her persistence in climbing on top of any book I was attempting to read. What I wouldn’t give to have one more day of paws covering the pages of my book.

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39 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am so very sorry for your loss. The bond one can have with an animal is one of the most amazing things in the world. I well remember how devastated I was when my “heart-dog” died, and now my senior dog has been diagnosed with cancer, so I’m facing it again. The end of a beloved pet’s life is a difficult and emotional time. It sounds like Putty had a really fabulous life with you, and I hope you are comforted by your memories of her, and also by your knowledge that by rescuing her, you made all the difference in the world to her. Take good care of yourself while you grieve. I’ll be thinking of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. Our pets are our family and their deaths affect us just as much. I wish you comfort and joy in your memories with her.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  3. I’m so sorry. My family had a dog named Cookie when I was growing up, and they had to put her down when I was in college out of state. I had to skip the rest of my classes that day after sobbing through the first one. I have a cat now—my first cat, and the first pet I’ve owned personally—and sometimes I can’t help dreading the day she’s gone.

    Like

    April 8, 2016
    • I hope you have many more years with your cat. My childhood cat also died when I was away at college. My family was in Costa Rica and I was in the US. I was working (because it was the summer) and had to take the day off too.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 8, 2016
  4. Lovely sentiments, precious pictures and, as you have written, vivid memories. Revel in them. All comfort and good wishes. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  5. So sorry for the loss of your beloved pet. It is a heart breaker.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  6. Oh, Jen. I’m so sorry. It’s okay to cry about it. I think your colleagues would understand.

    (My husband and I blubbed like babies when our cat went missing because of her (then undiagnosed) hyperthyroidism.)

    You rescued Putty and gave her a good life. Like Mark said, revel in your memories. The slideshow is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  7. Michelle #

    Oh Jen……My heart truly aches for you as I know exactly what you are feeling. I am coming up on a year when we had to make one of the hardest decisions ever, and that was to let our little Bichon, Mister go. He had dementia and lost control of his back legs. He was my first dog and we had him for 17 years and of course loved him like mad. I know that “ugly, hysterical crying” all too well, with endless hours just staring out the window wondering if it will ever get better. It’s truly a pain that is indescribable. Time and loving your other pets will help. They truly leave such a wonderful print on our hearts like nothing else can and make our lives so rich. I reach out to you with a huge hug and am sending you comforting thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  8. Rachel #

    I already told you how sorry I am. Our cat Oreo loves sitting on me when I’m reading or using the computer. She’s sitting on me now while I type this since I’m home sick. Putty was lucky to be rescued and to spend five years with you. Oreo and I send lots of hugs and purrs.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  9. Tracy S. #

    Jen- I’m so sorry for your loss. Pets are such a huge part of our family and our lives, and they capture our hearts, so it’s no wonder yours is breaking right now. And to have her die in your arms- exactly where she wanted to be! You gave her the gift she wanted, in return for all she gave you. Thinking of all of you during this hard time.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
    • Thanks. I found her death to be very peaceful and a nice contrast to her discomfort and struggles the week prior.

      Like

      April 8, 2016
  10. Dearest Jen, I had been expecting this since you told me what was happening. As heart breaking as it is for you, you have done the right thing for Putty.

    Your photos are beautiful and in time when the pain is no longer sharp they will remind you only of the happy times. Putty was lucky to have found such a loving family.

    My thoughts are with you and your family, take care of each other xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
    • Thank you. I really do appreciate your kind words and the fact that you’ve been filling in with your wonderful reviews!

      Like

      April 8, 2016
      • Don’t mention it, we are a team! and a good team at that if I do say so myself.

        Liked by 1 person

        April 8, 2016
  11. Me and mine are sending warm thoughts and purrs to you and yours. The top picture of the post is particularly beautiful. Being able to say goodbye at home without the stress of an office visit makes a huge difference. Having been able to do that with my last two dogs I can’t imagine any other way now.

    P.S. you made the right decision on Marley and Me I made the mistake of reading it on a train trip from DC to NY and back and ending up crying all of the way from Philadelphia to Wilmington. No doubt to the extreme consternation of the total strangers sitting around me. I generally know better than to make that mistake with books but somehow that one slipped under my radar.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  12. Andrew Prazar #

    How can I make a snarky comment about that? Damn you Jen for bringing tears to my eyes on a Friday night (and this coming from your nemesis). I’m so sorry about Putty’s plight. I’m glad she had the experience of living in a loving home for as long as she did.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
    • Speaking of nemesis… Did you notice what was on the tv in the Putty picture? Her tongue out was showing her disdain for that show.

      Like

      April 8, 2016
  13. JoLene R #

    What a wonder tribute. I am sending healing thoughts to you and your family during this difficult time.

    My family always had dogs growing up, but I got two cats when I graduated from college because I was living in apartments. They moved with me each year and even got to live in France for a couple of years. Nermal (I was a Garfield fan back in the day) lived to the ripe old age of 19 when we had to make the difficult decision to put her down. I had lived with her longer than I had lived with parents. Loved the slide show and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
    • Thanks. Love the name. I also loved Garfield!

      Like

      April 8, 2016
  14. Kristel #

    Sorry for loss, I have been in my thoughts.

    Like

    April 8, 2016
    • Kristel #

      That was all wrong; I am sorry for your loss and you are in my thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 8, 2016
  15. Jean #

    Oh how painful it is to lose our pets. My heart goes out to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 8, 2016
  16. I’m so sorry for your loss… 😔
    I love animals as well, my family and I adopted two cats who are ugly and dirty but so full of love and I love them so very much. I can’t imagine how devastated I’d be when they’ll leave me… and when I had to leave my two cats to go to university it was almost as hard as leaving my own parents and friends 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    April 9, 2016
  17. Tessa (Book Concierge) #

    OH, Jen … I’m so sorry you had to go through this. How wonderful that you were able to hold Putty right up to that last purr.

    Like

    April 9, 2016
  18. Jen, I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through! I have two cats that are getting on the older side and I’m dreading the time I’ll have to say goodbye – but I know they’ve had a good life and I’m lucky to have them. I hope you’re taking care of yourself, this sounds like an awful time. We’ll be here when you’re up to blogging again.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 9, 2016
    • Thanks 🙂

      Like

      April 10, 2016
      • Sally Schwartz #

        Jen
        I think you made the right decision. I am so sorry for your loss. I have an elderly dog who has been near death a few times so I can imagine how you feel

        Liked by 1 person

        April 12, 2016
  19. Diane Zwang #

    Oh Jen I just now had a chance to read your post. So sorry to hear about kitty but it sounds like she had the best exit from this world by being in your arms. I too grew up with cats and feel your fondness. I hope a ray of sunshine comes your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 14, 2016
  20. Jen I’m so sorry for your loss. Your post was such a sweat one that it almost has me in tears. Losing a pet is hard and I can understand not wanting to read books that are like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2016

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