Beyond Books: A personal update
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.
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.