it's been a rough 6 weeks for my family.
i know that some people have pets, and that's it, they're just pets. for us, our animals are part of our family. i can't fathom it being any different. i have my sofie-bean who lives with me, she's my baby, and then there are the cats at my parent's house. i spend so much time over there that i love them to pieces too. Mika is the oldest, he joined the family when i was still in high school, then Gigi, who came a few years later. Hemi came after i'd moved out, though i moved back in for a few years when i first started having health problems, so i lived with him too. the cats are all technically family, other than my Sofie, none of them were specifically any certain person's cat, but anyone who's ever loved a cat knows that they have a mind of their own!
in mid-september, we said goodbye to Gigi. Gigi was my mom's baby, she loved my mom the best. she came to us from a family that bred rhodesian ridgebacks, fairly hyper dogs, and had quite a few extremely hyper kids. on top of the hyperness, her mom was a barn cat, and Gigi never outgrew her skittish nature. most people never even knew that we had her, she hid whenever anyone came over, but she visited mom in bed every night at bedtime, and slept in a basket by their bed.
she was very dignified, very sleek, and very elegant. her nose was always damp like a puppy's, she was much heavier than she looked because she was pure muscle, she purred her head off when you rubbed her belly and hid her head in your elbow or your armpit because it was less scary if she couldn't see you. her paws were a special shade of grey with a silver overtone that always reminded me of fog and thus, carl sandburg's poem, so one of her nicknames was "fog feet". when she was a kitten, she and Mika were best friends. they'd sleep curled together, and Mika was attached by a dog once when he tried to rescue her from the neighbour's yard.
Gigi started getting sick in the spring, and we took her to the vet, and they did a whole bunch of tests and exams, and gave her medicine, but we knew that our time with her was limited. she was still happy and loving and affectionate, but by mid september, she was obviously in pain, and it was time. she was 12 years old in the spring, which for animals in our family, is only middle age. (my childhood cat, Robert, passed away when he was 21 or 22.) it was hard, but we knew that her time was coming, and we had time to get used to the idea of losing her.
on tuesday night, we lost Hemi. it was completely unexpected, and the only word i can think of is devastated. we are completely devastated. i was there when we found him, and i've never seen my dad so heartbroken. Hemi was such a character, which such a unique personality, that it still doesn't seem real that he's gone.
Hemi's name came from his extra toes - like my Sofie, he was a Hemingway cat, a polydactyl, and because ever since he was a kitten, he's purred his head off and sounded like a hemi engine. my parents adopted him from a local animal rescue, and after they adopted him, they called me and told me that there was another cat there that i had to come see - my Sofie-bean. he was one week younger than Sofie, so not the same litter, but likely the same father, since they came from the same house, and are both hemingway cats. he was 8 and a half years old, so young.
Hemi was my dad's baby, his best bud. he hung out around dad outside and "supervised" whatever project he was working on, and loved having naps with him. dad would call "bedtime!" and Hemi would come running. he was the friendliest, dopiest, most mellow cat you'd ever meet. he trusted everyone, and wasn't scared of anything (except babies. crawling babies really freaked him out!). he was practically impossible to take good pictures of, because they usually turned out blurry like the one above, and he was so dark. he always wanted attention, and though he loved dad best, he wasn't too picky about who he got his attention from. because he wasn't scared of strangers, and always came to check them out, visitors to our home fell in love with him immediately. he was definitely not that bright, we used to joke that he should have been a dog, but we loved him even when he couldn't find the treat that he was standing on top of. which was even funnier because he was such a piggie - after the other cats ate their breakfast, he's go back and finish off their bowls every time.
he was so handsome, with his long fur and we called him "fluffbucket" a lot of the time. i used to slide him around on the kitchen floor, teasing that he was a good broom. he needed to be combed daily, because he adored galivanting around outside and getting burrs and knots in his fur. he liked being combed, as long as he didn't have too many knots, and he'd come running when you shook his comb. his favourite thing to do outside was roll around in dirt like a horse, then get up and rub the dust all over your ankles.
he spent a lot of time flopped in various places around the house sleeping. he was completely comfortable and trusting anywhere he was, but his favourite position was sprawled on his back on my parent's bed. in the picture above, he's made himself comfortable between a suitcase and laundry basket, completely unconcerned. every night he "came to bed", and crawled under the blanket with my dad for a little while. when i housesat back in september, if i didn't lift the blanket for him to crawl under it, he would pat my cheek with his paw until i did. he did the same thing if you sat on the couch and didn't pet him, he'd come up and sit on the arm beside you. if you ignored his gentle pats, they would get progressively harder until his claws came out! as much as he loved attention, he hated to be held. he prefered to be beside you, or on the back of the couch above you, but sometimes he would sit on my dad's legs.
he and Mika were best buddies. Mika would give him baths, though that usually ended in a playful scrap. the two of them slept peacefully on the same bed, and ganged up on Gigi together, the jerks. he was still a kitten in so many ways, and absolutely adored/hated catnip toys and playful wrestling on the floor.
he was so FLOUFY! his tongue was such a bright pink compared to his black fur, and his fur was so black on his back that it looked green in the sunlight, though it was brown on his belly. his ears would get bent back from him rolling around or us petting him, and he wouldn't even notice until a few minutes later when he'd shake his head really fast and they'd make a "whap whap" sound as they fell back into place.
he had two extra toes, one on each of his front paws, so he looked like he was wearing mittens. his paws were so soft and silky compared to his fluffy fur, so we referred to them as his velvet mittens. he hated it when you petted them, but we couldn't resist.
we're going to miss our bratsky so much. my poor Hem-Hem. he was such a huge personality, and he was so loved.
i'm behind on e-mails and comments and blog posts, because i've been spending time with my family, and i'm still sick (though better), so i've been sleeping a lot. on a positive, thankful note, Sofie has been SUPER affectionate. i'm not sure if she knows that i'm sad, or if she just missed me since she's been hiding from me and my coughing for a week, but either way, i appreciate it!