wolffe: (sad panda)
But none of it seems to matter much. Paul Nelson, my first boss at Georgia State Parks, was on his motorcycle driving to work when someone pulled out in front of him. He was rushed to Grady, but died during surgery. I am almost in tears I have so many feels. I just can't... I mean, his wife had made him give up the bike until his son reached 18. That happened just before I left, and he was so excited to be getting a motorcycle again. We talked about his and Jason's bikes and I know he loved riding.

He was a gentle man who had a soft spot a mile wide. He was also very anal. He taught me how to be more detailed. He is the only man I have ever known to actually pick up on the fact I had a migraine and comment on it, telling me to go home and rest. (My husband included!)

I am so sad for his family. I am so glad Jason sold his bike.

Jason said that he died "doing something he loved". I hate when people say that. Sure, he liked to ride, but I honestly think he wasn't thinking "Wow, I love this!" as he slammed into the side of that car.

Take a moment to be extra careful and look twice as you drive around in the coming days.
wolffe: (catfish)


Catfish came to us already named because she wasn't a very picky eater. In her younger years, she often brought us "presents" when she felt like she wasn't getting enough to eat. We rescued a lot of tailless lizards and a chipmunk or two, but she was a hell of a hunter and she decimated the local population of both.

Catfish moved with our then next door neighbor's daughter from Florida. Her life before the move is sketchy, but when she arrived in Birmingham she was banished to the outdoors. She showed up one day in our backyard sprawled out on the picnic table in the sun. That's the day she decided we were her new owners, and that was her home. Period. Nothing we could do about it. We really didn't want her. We had just lost a cat and weren't quite ready for another one. Especially not one like her. She was half wild and would bite the stew out of us for no apparent reason. Just to see if we were staying on our toes. She did less and less reflex tests over the years, and for the past few years she was the sweetest cat you'd ever meet.

The vet estimated her to be 8 years old when we got her, which means she was about 15 when she died. Her decline was rapid and unexpected. We thought it might be a thyroid problem when she started dropping weight. Those of you who knew Catfish in her later years knew her as a quite rotund kitty. Quite frankly, she looked like she'd swallowed a basketball. When I first saw her Friday night I was shocked to find a lot of loose skin draped over a skeleton. Unfortunately, it turned out that she was in liver failure.

We had another cat with liver failure, and went to extremes to save him. We knew on that path lay disaster and more heartache. Mom made the decision to put her to sleep, and none too soon since she was literally starving herself. The sedative they gave her caused her to gag, but there was nothing in her stomach.

I had Jake, so we left Mom in the room with Catfish after I said goodbye. It seemed to take forever and when Mom came out she said that it hadn't gone well. Much like Tiger, they had a hard time declaring her death and even thought about giving her a second dose. This was horrible for Mom and I wish she had been spared that. Before we buried her in Mom's backyard she swore Catfish was still breathing and even purring. I assured her she wasn't, but I had nightmares that night about burying her alive. I know she wasn't, but that knowledge didn't seem to help.

She seemed so tiny when we laid her to rest. She adored Tiger and I'm sure she paved the way for him to accept Pilsbury's love affair with him. It gives me a little comfort that they are now together, snuggling in whatever serves for an afterlife. If it's a heavenly afterlife, then it surely is populated more with animals than with humans.

This is the first time my Mom is catless in more than 30 years. I have no doubt that once she moves to Atlanta and gets settled, a cat will find her. They always do.

wolffe: (tiger)


It was November of '93 when Jason came home from a hunting trip with his Dad (the only one he ever took) and told me about this dog. He'd never really had a dog before, and I was actually trying to talk him out of it since we didn't have a good place to keep a dog. I don't think he knew me well enough at the time to know what was going to happen, but he told me the owner of the camp was going to kill the dog if we didn't go get him.

The next words out of my mouth were "get in the car."

It was raining, cold and dark when we got to the camp in Coffeeville, AL about an hour's drive from Mobile. We got out of the car and ... no dog. We called for about 5 minutes. No dog. I was just about to give up when this dark brown hound of hell came slinking out of the woods. I looked at it. It looked at me. Jason asked how we were going to get him in the car. I opened the car door, said "load up" and he jumped right in. On the way back, we drove with the windows down even though it was freezing and raining because the dog stank SO BAD.

The first thing we did when we got back to my dorm room was give him a bath. We were amazed that he wasn't brown. Seriously, we both looked at each other in shock when he was clean.

And that was how we got Tiger. He was about 8 months old when we picked him up that night. He had buckshot in his face, ears and chest most likely from a botched attempt to kill him. I always said the buckshot made him super dog.

We put him to sleep yesterday at 3pm. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I knew his arthritic hip was causing him a great deal of pain. The euthanasia itself didn't go as I had planned or hoped. He was sedated, and laid down where I held him. After the first dose of euthanasia was administered, his heart continued to beat and he continued to take in great lung fulls of air. After 3 minutes, a second dose was administered. It still took another minute before he gave up and the vet pronounced him gone.

This will haunt me for the rest of my life. I thought he was ready to go, but I can't say that after what happened. Mom and Jason have been trying to reassure me that it was the right thing to do, and life struggles to live no matter how much pain there is but it makes no difference. I know I made a mistake. I should have waited until he was ready. I rationalized the decision and I can't take it back.

My dog is dead and buried and I wish I could take it back. I know in my head that I'm really raw emotionally and he was in pain and certainly struggled to get around some days. But I also know that he wasn't ready and despite the fact that I never would have been ready that was the absolute worst experience and I never want to repeat it.



As much as I remember him smiling and chasing squirrels and putting my leg to sleep with his huge head I will never wipe the image of him gasping out of my mind. The only good thing I can say is that he was sedated, and didn't feel anything. I felt everything for him.
wolffe: (Default)
That's the joke that's going around right now. That the Kelly family is death central.

Remember my cousin who had breast cancer? She died this morning around 1am. I'll make a nice goodbye writeup for her later. We knew it was coming, and we actually thought she would die yesterday, right around the time we put our grandfather in the ground.

It made Granddad's funeral really weird. Like it was a memorial for them both. She had written a letter to be read, and all of us lost it. It was a beautiful memorial for him though. She was much closer to him than I ever was. She was one of the favored grandchildren.

This is the saddest story of all the Kelly deaths that have happened in the past 3 years (that would be 6 if you're playing along at home).

My Dad is on the phone with the funeral director, who's on his way to get her in Mobile. They're figuring out the cemetary plot situation. Midway's cemetary is (not surprisingly) quite small, and the Kelly family section is running out of room.

I think I'm more sad about the fact that a bunch of dogs got loose last night and killed two kittens and another cat here at the farm.

I want to go home and curl up with my husband and cats and dog, but I have to stick around for a bit to help my Dad.
wolffe: (Default)
That's the joke that's going around right now. That the Kelly family is death central.

Remember my cousin who had breast cancer? She died this morning around 1am. I'll make a nice goodbye writeup for her later. We knew it was coming, and we actually thought she would die yesterday, right around the time we put our grandfather in the ground.

It made Granddad's funeral really weird. Like it was a memorial for them both. She had written a letter to be read, and all of us lost it. It was a beautiful memorial for him though. She was much closer to him than I ever was. She was one of the favored grandchildren.

This is the saddest story of all the Kelly deaths that have happened in the past 3 years (that would be 6 if you're playing along at home).

My Dad is on the phone with the funeral director, who's on his way to get her in Mobile. They're figuring out the cemetary plot situation. Midway's cemetary is (not surprisingly) quite small, and the Kelly family section is running out of room.

I think I'm more sad about the fact that a bunch of dogs got loose last night and killed two kittens and another cat here at the farm.

I want to go home and curl up with my husband and cats and dog, but I have to stick around for a bit to help my Dad.

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