Death and other difficult conversations with parents

A few weeks ago, my phone rang in the middle of the afternoon. It was my first cousin. I am at an age where such calls are ominous because sadly, we no longer call each other when the going is good. We used to, a long time ago.

I felt a twinge of guilt that I had exited the family Whatsapp group because I could no longer bear the white noise or the cheery forwards.

The call was about my maternal uncle (Amma’s older brother), who had passed away after a prolonged battle with diabetes related complications. He was 77. The eldest brother went the same way a few years ago, and my mother is sure she is next in line. She has two valve replacements on her resume apart from diabetes, the family heirloom.

I don’t know how this sounds but I rehearse this call in my head all the time: making and receiving it. When I bring this up with my siblings, they are in denial. “She’s only 73,” my brother reminds me exasperatedly. He is in California and furthest away from my parents. His optimism is essential for his survival. My sister is in Dubai and into Reiki. Whenever I bring up existential questions she reminds me I should try it too.

I watch Mukti Bhawan and Amour in the same week last month and both movies lead me into the space of talking to my parents about their death. May be when they are both home at the same time, I think. Such conversations need the right ambience I remind myself.

Most of my friends have lost a parent; some have lost both.  I show up for condolences, I call relatives who live far from their children, I flip when my father doesn’t answer the phone (he usually doesn’t. These days he has also learned how to put me on hold while he cooks).

I call my father to tell him about my uncle’s death and book his ticket to Mumbai. For the last six years, Appahas been living by himself on a farm in Zad- Shahapur, a village in Belgaum. It’s been his lifelong dream to be a farmer. He is finally living the dream, although it is inconvenient to all of us.

Appa likes to describe himself as 80, not out. It’s been a long standing joke in the family – referring to death as ‘out’. My uncle (who is no more) and my father used to regularly discuss the geriatrics in the family with their scores:

“ You mean Ramki? 87 not out?”

“No, his older brother. 91 not out.”

“I think you should move back,” I tell my father. You are all alone there, and it’s a jungle. What if there is an emergency? Who will take you to the doctor? What if no one knows you are unwell and your phone is dead as usual?

“My father is with me,” he says. My grandfather passed away when Appa was 14.

I hang up.

I don’t think my parents think as much about their death as I do. They think about life. I think about logistics. I think Belgaum-Bombay- Dubai-Los Angeles and my head spins. Death is a lot about logistics. Who to call? What to do? When to do it?How to do it? I know I will be stuck with the operations. As chief planner and executor of all things in my family, I know this will be my lot too.

I have been visualizing a family home, a sort of halfway house where my parents and all the bereaved members of the family can live together. Perhaps that will help them lean in for each other? I store the idea in my drafts folder.

A year ago, I had the biggest fright.

Appa called one morning, saying he couldn’t see a thing. His cataract had insidiously burgeoned over the last two years to blur out his vision completely and an emergency surgery had to be scheduled. We rushed him through a battery of tests that were routine before the surgery, given his age. His bloodwork was impeccable and my father couldn’t stop beaming. “I have really enjoyed life, doctor!”. However there was an 80% hearing impairment owing to the long time effects of tobacco (my father is a heavy smoker)

He promised he would quit smoking. I sent him a consignment of nicotine gums. When I visited again, the gums were untouched. I was mad at him.

“Don’t you worry about dying?”, I barked.

“What is this dying business all the time? Let me live yaar!”

I imagine a death shower for my father, where he will invite all his friends and family and cook a feast for them.  I think 80 is a good age to do this. If there is one candidate who can throw a death shower, it is Appa. I am scared to suggest it though; my mother would consider it a bad omen.

My mother is on life-long blood thinners. This essentially means that she treads the fine line on a daily basis between bleeding to death or choking to death if her INR (International Normalised Ratio), an indicator of her prothrombin time (essentially the time it takes for human blood to clot) is not adequately managed.

Amma regularly defaults on her INR tests and if I don’t keep tabs on her, weeks go by without her being tested. The last time, her ratio was dangerously high, at 5.2. She was to travel in two days to visit my sister in Dubai. The doctor advised her not to travel until the INR was brought down by monitoring her dosage of warfarin for a few days.

She lost it.

“What does he know? Has he had his heart opened up twice? Has he given birth to twins when his weight was 40 kilos? Does he know that traveling makes me happy? I need a new doctor. I am going to sack this doctor.”

And that was that.

(I post this on Facebook and it gets 200 likes. Amma has a fan club.)

Back from the clinic, Amma has a chat with our cat Millie. They often chat about this and that, but mostly about who is going to go first. Millie is 16, which makes her 112 in human years and a more likely contender for the first spot.

When Amma speaks, she has Millie’s full attention.

“I am not going to be scared by doctors. If I feel happy visiting my children, what is the doctor’s problem? Wouldn’t you get angry too?I am going to do what I want. But you still have to wait for me, ok?”

Miaaaooww, says Millie, and sashays back into her favorite chair. I let Amma go.

My parents have become my children. I am constantly admonishing them for being careless about their health, diet, exercise, and whatnot. For tempting fate. They are constantly ignoring me like I were an errant child.

Amma sent me quite a few voice notes on this trip. Most of it was about me being a drama queen and that she had a right to live as she pleased. She had a right to enjoy. Needless to say, my sister was on tenterhooks for the time that Amma was with her.

During my mother’s second valve replacement surgery around five years ago, the surgeon had told me that this was a way to buy ten more years, at best, for my mother.

She keeps reminding me that five are down, five to go.

“I want to go like Rangu,” she tells me these days. Mrs. Rangarajan was her closest friend; she died last year and went real quickly. It’s my mother’s dream death. She wakes up some mornings and tells me she dreamt about dying. There’s a sparkle in her eyes. Tell me about it, I say. She does. We both giggle (me nervously).“I don’t want to be in a hospital bed ever again and no doctor will open my heart and make me look like cockroach,” she announces.

Amma was still in Dubai when I had to break the news of her brother’s death. She was quiet. The voice notes stopped.

Last month, Appa called with a sense of urgency. What now, I wondered?

“My passport is expiring. Don’t we have to renew it?”

“Hahahha.You still have a passport?”, I laughed. “But you don’t go anywhere Appa”, I teased him.

It’s true. Appa hardly ever leaves his farm. Except for the bereaved. I don’t know what he says or does but my relatives tell me he knows exactly what is to be done when someone dies.

I visualize myself turning into my father.

He reminds me of his unused US visa. “I have to go now yaar. It’s not correct to get a visa of a country and not go. How they will feel?”

I panic and call my brother. “Dude, we have to make Appa’s trip happen this year before it’s too late.”

“Too late for what?” he asks.

“He is 80,” I remind him.


Back to square one.

Some days, when I walk into the house after my morning walk and Amma is in shavasana, my heart stops. Is it what I think it is, I wonder? Hell no, because I am not ready yet. I am not even ready to let Millie go. All this rationalizing and ruminating over death hasn’t really made me ready for that call. That call I may have to make.

May be being in denial is not a bad thing after all. Death is all around us, but even that checklist for the death shower may not provide me with the emotional inoculation I need. May be talking about it just buys us time. It buys us another opportunity to have conversations with the one who hasn’t gone yet. It buys us another night of going to bed without having to process grief.Because grief is a certainty in a way that joy can never be.

Till then, let me let my parents live yaar!


(An edited version of this post appeared in Arre here )



My father’s shoes


Dr Jayant Deshpande, a few years before he passed away

It’s almost weird what reminds me of my father. It mostly is small, worn-out, badly (rather hurriedly) chosen shoes on a middle aged man. He had small feet and he wore shoes like that. Uncaring and apathetic to brands, fashion, style and disrepair. It was a ritual in the home, for Aai to force him into buying moderately expensive, well-fitted shoes and it always led to an argument about how he was made to splurge money. Never mind that we, the kids, spent more money on movies and eating out in a week than he had to on those shoes. It was spending on himself that always made him act like a debt-ridden man.

He never cared about appearances anyway. Any grooming apart from the daily shower was more of a social and professional compulsion for him. That haircut happened when it became too evident and the hair took more than three seconds to obey combing commands and fall in place. Shirts and trousers were selected inside of two seconds.

The only vanity he allowed himself was a regimented, daily shave. Even in his days of prolonged hospitalization, he craved that shave and felt embarrassed when the doctors saw him with a little scruff on his face. He was after all, till his last breath a dignified doctor. I remember one exasperating occasion when, having had another in a series of brushes with death, the first thing he asked me when I came down from Ghaziabad to the hospital was to help him shave.

But that isn’t what reminded me of him today. It was a father-son pair at the barbershop that made me long for him today. Growing up as a cripplingly shy kid, I never had mustered enough courage to get a haircut myself till very late in school life. The daunting task of walking up to a grown man, looking him in the eye, telling him what I wanted and then course correction in between was just beyond me.

Most barbers tend to be too boisterous for my taste anyway, compulsively talking and socializing as they stood, snipping with their scissors on every branch of my family tree. So for me, he was the communicator and the handler of tough situations like asking the barber to make it shorter than what had been done. But ironically, I loved keeping my hair minimal, so every 10 days, I would drag him along to sit and twiddle his thumbs while I looked at him and signaled him to intervene every now and then. Time passed and my shyness abated a little, the barber issue was resolved when teenage hit like a tornado and our haircut philosophies no longer matched. But till the end, he remained firmly in-charge of the house.

So even though throughout my teenage, I continuously battled him for the alpha male position at home, demanding to be trusted, brandishing my bravado of having well connected friends and my ‘knowledge of the system’ (he remained too naïve and tended to get things done the straight way, as per regulations, which I thought was boring), I was never really required to take any responsibility of doing menial tasks like paper work, government filings, etc. I still don’t. Living away from home meant Aai had to take up the baton, something she has done so well.

Seeing that kid and his father at the barber today made me reminisce on the presence that he had at home. An anchor, that was drawn up in January this year, and our lives took a sudden, unexpected course that none of us had imagined. Like every kid is of his/her father, I was in awe of him. The reverence with which people spoke to him, his uninterrupted sense of duty which made him treat patients who had come home even at 3 AM in the morning, the way he had built whatever we had right from scratch, getting no handouts from anyone and through a sheer sincerity of effort. It’s now I realize how little he enjoyed any of what he earned, but I do not remember a time now when I had to really give up anything because of finances. Yes, there was the one odd really expensive toy I wanted that he refused to buy, but then I was just being a brat. For what it counted, education, lifestyle, books, things that truly enriched us, we were never short. The only grudge I still hold against him today is never buying me an RC Helicopter. And I will never buy it on my own, just to hold up his end of that argument.

I digress. So what happens to kids who are in awe of the parent? One word. Teenage. For us, it unleashed a demon that unraveled the very fabric of our relationship. When I rebelled, I didn’t do it halfheartedly. And for his part, he was too consumed of worries about my future, my academics, etc. for us to sit down and talk. I would anyway have fought my way through, even if we had sat down to talk. But for whatever reasons, we never talked about it. Even later, there were no apologies. Maybe apologies weren’t needed and this was a rite of passage, a testing of boundaries, so to speak. And we never hugged it out because in our dictionary, that was just plain weird. What broke the ice between us was the realization of mortality of a human being.

News of his cardiac surgery and the complications therein mediated an unspoken truce between us. At the same time, the quarter life crisis hit me, and in the hangover of that turbulent teenage, the smoke screen began to dissolve. Partly out of guilt for having done and said the things I had (and having not done and not said the things I should have) the thought of his mortality jolted us back into a time where I was almost subservient to him. And he deserved to be revered like that. Things seemed happy after the successful surgery. But that was short-lived.

A couple of years down the line, all hell broke loose. I won’t go into the details of it. It’s unnerving to recount the horrors and moreover, now that it’s all over, the everyday details that I then thought were terrorizing have lost their sharp edges. Now, they seem more like a movie we all watched while in a deep state of exhaustion, floating through the days, deeply connected emotionally but somehow physically removed from the scene of the crime.

What those three years did is more important now. It changed the meaning of a lot of things. It changed the meaning of Aai. From being a mother and a wife, she went on to be a selfless organ donor, never even questioning why she was doing it. From being a sister, Renu and more importantly, her husband and her in-laws, went on to be generous, large- hearted care takers that we shall forever be emotionally indebted to. For me, it changed the meaning of going home. Now in my vacations, I didn’t go home, I went to the hospital. Flying down from Ghaziabad stopped being a happy occasion and started being one long, tensed time-out. A phone call from Aai even a minute off from the usual time sent the heart leaping out of the throat and “Hello” changed to a panicked “What happened now?” The only place that felt eerily safe was the hospital premises, because having hospitalized him twice in an emergency, seeing his life almost ebb out in the car had left driving with him an unpleasant and scary suggestion.

The hospital became our new home. The chores of sending home cooked food to the hospital and giving medicines and checking vitals every few hours almost became a routine. Again, had it not been for the sister, her husband and her in-laws, who turned their entire household machinery to suit our schedules, none of this would have happened. And what changed most was him. From being a fit, active man who bordered almost on an anxious restlessness, he waned away physically. He still remained mentally sharp, checking his own medical reports even while on a ventilator, but that flock of thick, dark black hair (that had survived at an age when most of his contemporaries had submitted to alopecia) went away. From being a man who sprang to his feet at the slightest sound even while in deep sleep, he had to be held while walking. And the displeasure of having to accept these physical changes was apparent on his face. After all, he still wanted to hold on to his position as head of the family. More than the condition that afflicts them, I think patients are more terrified with the prospect of being dependent on others. And for people who had built their life from ground up, it seemed almost like a cruel, insulting defeat at the hands of fate.

Three years of running in and out of hospitals, misdiagnosis and mismanagement at Nagpur, shift to Pune, panicking, continuous and compulsively worrying, a transplant, almost made it. Wait. Something went wrong. No, ok, it’s treatable. Yay! Happy Diwali! Wait, again somethings not right. Uh oh, this might be serious. Ok, serious but treatable. Yaaay. Wait. Fracture. Ok healing well. Yaay again. We will pull through. Things will be back to normal. Let’s plan what all of us will do after Diwali. Go on a trip, start your practice again. Cough cough. Tch, damn cough. Let’s just be a normal family and start arguing again. Baba, you’ve lost it. You are immune compromised, can’t be around sick people anymore. Ok fine, but only 10 patients a day just to keep you busy. Cough cough. Wait. Doctor doesn’t look happy. Shit. Oh ok, not that serious, I read the report wrong. Doctor says it’s negative. Yaaaaay ok so back to planning. What the hell is partial lung resection? Honestly? Phew. Ok fine, doctor says it’s a pretty routine surgery. Ok, bye baba, I’ll wait here in the, well, waiting room LOL. Be back soon. Ah, all doctors are going in. Surgery must be over. But too soon, no? Why am I being called in? I know what a Myocardial Infraction is. I’ve become half a Wikipedia doctor myself. May pull through? Ok. He’s pulled through before. He will again. I’m confident. Heart stopped? Ok, restarted after 20 min? Yaaay? Ok. He’s unconscious, but can listen to me? Ok. Baba, got a good job, just like you always wanted. Will you come to my convocation? Baba? Ok I’ll wait. Wait. Wait. Wait……….


So he didn’t pull through after all.

I will never be able to faithfully express everything that happened and that we felt in those years, but then maybe some things aren’t meant to be faithfully expressed. Some thoughts, some moments of laughter, tears, anxiety, are best preserved in the mind as mementos given by those who left us. With him, our lives too set sail. Never had we thought that Nagpur will stop being our ‘home town’. It was a city where our lives happened. It was a city where I knew most of the lanes and where I had spent all of my formative years. It was a city, where even random shops on the road had a memory to share. It was a city where he raised his family. Tearing away from the hometown, with the collateral damage of a much loved dog has been the hardest decision to deal with after him.

What I do vividly remember of Baba now is how in those few moments of remission, he never stopped putting up a brave face. He had been our go to guy for all medical queries. Now that he was on the other side, he had to hold the fort even now. And he still smiled. Worried as he always was, listening to stories of Nagpur and how stupid some people are, he gave his usual, easy laugh that came so naturally to him.

Those shoes that I so nostalgically mentioned, had a metaphor in them too. We grow up with our idols. We try to be them, we fail, we shun them, we see them in a different light, then we try again. So we try to be a mutated version of them. I wear better shoes than what he did, but then, I can never fill his shoes anyway. They may have been small, odd, and in bad fashion, but in what they represented, a life lived for others and in worry of other, they were just too big for a man of my stature.

Phew. So, kid at the barber shop. Be a brat. Love every moment of being a brat while your father caters to you. It’s how things happen. You too will grow up, you too will be at loggerheads with him. You too, will come back to him. I can tell you to be nice to him you will regret it later and blah blah blah, but the thing is, you won’t understand. I didn’t either. Maybe guilt isn’t a bad thing after all, if it ends up making you a better person than what you were yesterday. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Forgive yourself. Your baba will too. And hope the same for me.

About the author: Jaydeep went from being an engineer to a copywriter at a radio channel to an MBA student to now being an Assistant Manager with an Ecommerce portal. He writes, on and off, mostly for himself.


Talking about Death

One of my mother’s closest friends in our apartment block passed away a few weeks ago. She was hale and hearty, 70, had no major ailments to speak of and died of a massive heart attack, rather quickly.

Re was home when it all unfolded. The call coming in, my mother’s sudden whiteness of face, her mourning, the flurry of activity in the building, the arrival of the ambulance, the visitors – Re saw it all from our window, intrigued by the goings on.

“What happened to naani’s friend, mamma?”

“She died.” I have figured that the best way to do it is say it like it is.

“Where are they taking her?” he asked.

Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to talking about cremation, so I lied. “They are going to bury her, so no one can disturb her.”

“But what if insects and snakes bite her inside the mud?” He wasn’t going to give up.

Re is almost six, but he had his first encounter with death two years ago when our cat Nadia died of an acute kidney disease. I had, at that time addressed the subject of death without euphemisms, after much conflict within, but now when I look back, I feel I did the right thing.

I thought the questions would come then, but they started coming much later. Suddenly, there is an onslaught of them. And there is much talk about death.

“May be we should have told Nadia we can’t live without her, then she wouldn’t have died. May be naani should have also told her friend she can’t live without her!”

There was more.

“Will you also die, mamma?”

“Yes, I will. We all will.”

He is suddenly very worried about the inevitability of death, but I feel he is the better for it. I remember my first encounter with death. I was eight I think, and one of my uncles passed away rather suddenly. The Tamil euphemism for death is ‘gone away’ and that’s what my parents used for a long time and I never understood its full meaning until much later, when I was grieving over my cats, my grandma and many others.

I often get questions in my inbox which border on the lines of child-counseling, and sometimes I wonder how much do I really know to be able to answer them. One such question was from a gentleman who was unsure if talking to his child about his mother’s death was the right thing to do. I shared my experience with him, and I hope I was of some help.

There is this beautiful book called Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie and Robery Ingpen to explain death to children. It explains, quite simply that there is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive. And that all living things die. I used the book to read to Re post Nadia’s death. I still go back to it every now and then. There is also Casey Rislov’s recent book Love is Forever, illustrated by Rachel Balsaits. It’s a story of Little Owl, who loves her Grandfather Owl very much, and how she, with the help of her parents and baby brother, deals with the sadness of her grandfather’s death by learning to keep his love alive forever.

I think children understand death and grief much more than we give them credit for. It gives them closure, it makes things finite and it is also a rite of passage. You can never insulate your children fully from death. If it’s not a family member, it could be a pet, a friend’s grandparent, or even an accident on the road. You cannot shelter them from it, because then, they will always be in denial. They see it around them all the time, and they probably have internalized it even before you thought they were ready.

Maybe if you love someone a lot, it may be a good thing to tell them that you can’t live without them. But the next time you talk about death, make sure you use the D word. They will be grateful to you some day.

(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 8th June, 2015)

To Nadia, with love

Nadia died on the morning of 3rd December 2013.

She was not my first pet. But for the first time, I am going to allow myself to grieve openly about a pet, because I think I owe it to her. We have all grown up on various notions of how stoicism is the way to go when we are bereaved, and how we must not allow ourselves to break down each time love scars us. Time heals everything, we were told.

For as long as I can remember, cats had always been a part of our life, although we had seldom officially ‘adopted’ them. They had given birth on our feet, in our cupboards and balconies, they have nursed their babies, they have died in battle, they have died in infancy, they have been kidnapped, run over, bitten by snakes, died in our laps. Each time we lost a pet, we cried silently, or didn’t speak for days, our parents pretended to be brave, we went on about our lives and we thought we had healed. But all it took was one memory, one visual reference that reminded us of the one that left us, and the bandage would come off a very painful wound and emotions would come gushing.

So I am sorry, Tipu, Simba, Kimi, Kallu, Chinky, Pushpi, Kuttu, Vinci, Brownie, and various yet-to-be-named kittens who died and found a place in various patches of land that made for our habitat and turned into chikoo or lemon trees or rose bushes as my father deemed fit at the time. Before long, we had forgotten who was the chikoo and who was the rose.

So I have been spending the last few days visiting every memory, every picture, every place that reminds me of Nadia and finally I found the coherence it needs to write a blog-post about her. Because I don’t want to get over her. Because I don’t think I can.

Black magic woman

Black magic woman

Nadia was my first black cat. She is also the first pet I have cremated. It is the first time I collected the ashes of a pet, and labelled it. So it stays, even if memory goes away.

Nadia is also special because she represents my transition from woman to mother. She came into my life just a month before I found out I was pregnant. She was home in an instant.

I am home!

I am home!

It was a new thing for the husband, as he was never allowed to have a pet in his life. He didn’t know then that cats don’t do toys. Neither do they do as told.

I need to be challenged. Can you do better than this?

I need to be challenged. Can you do better than this?

But Nadia felt sorry for him and decided to adopt his favorite place.

Now we are talking

Now we are talking

She soon realised that she had to get on my good side too, hence:

Just in case you thought I was an alcoholic

Just in case you thought I was an alcoholic

A month later, I found out I was pregnant, and we decided to get Nadia a playmate, just in case she felt left out. We got home Bravo, a three-legged piece of art. It was the best decision we ever made, much against public advice.

Okay, this one was a good move. And he also follows instructions

Okay, this one was a good move. And he also follows instructions

Of course we never thought it would go so well.

Good to have someone your size to cuddle with

Good to have someone your size to cuddle with

And sometimes we were jealous too. What about us, we thought?

You know, I don't really care what you think.

You know, I don’t really care what you think.

Soon, Re arrived, and they were a threesome.

Oh look, another playmate!

Oh look, another playmate!

Of course, Nadia also took on additional responsibility, so I could get some sleep. I can never thank her enough for all those free baby-sitting hours.

I kinda like him, so happy to be nanny.

I kinda like him, so happy to be nanny.

But then, she was always rewarded.

Perks of the job

Perks of the job

Well, sometimes in ways she didn’t quite approve of, but always took in her stride.

I'm letting it go for now

I’m letting it go for now

When she wanted to hide, she blended with the landscape, so no one would bother her. Except me of course.

Plus they have good taste

I must say they have good taste

Sometimes she even took to my least favorite spot, just so I would stay away.

She got this desk to write her book. Have never seen her here though. Humans!

She got this desk to write her book. Have never seen her here though. Humans!

Nights were of course, reserved for he-who-must-turn-into-a-potato

He, of course is really committed to his passion.

He, of course is really committed to his passion.

Sometimes, she rewarded him too. She gave the best pedicures, and chances were, if you were a man, you had a better chance earning them. We actually thought of turning it into a business model, but then thought she might like to pick her candidates.

I like rewarding people who burn the midnight oil. Never mind what they are doing.

I like rewarding people who burn the midnight oil. Never mind what they are doing.

He-who-must-be-guarded soon turned out to be a good playmate. Sometimes getting into forbidden territory too.

He seems to have started early. May be he will finish the book faster than his mother.

He seems to have started early. May be he will finish the book faster than his mother.

But then as long as she got her fair share of sun-play, she was happy to play along.

I like boys who get their hands dirty.

I like boys who get their hands dirty.

Plus she liked people who broke the rules.

Or who do food well.

Or who do food well.

Never mind if sometimes she had to take no for an answer

Never mind if I don't get to open their Christmas presents.

What? I don’t get to open Christmas presents?

Plus there was also places she could get to where he couldn’t.

When it gets too much, there is always the outdoors.

When it gets too much, there is always the outdoors.

She had her weaknesses. Yellow melons. Tomatoes. Yoghurt.

Hahaha, the sabziwala didn't even notice!

Hahaha, the sabziwala didn’t even notice!

They should pay me for endorsing this!

They should pay me for endorsing this!

And she always managed her alone-time. A very valuable life-lesson for me. When you want it, go get it.

She doesn't get 'leave me alone', does she?

She doesn’t get ‘leave me alone’, does she?

Sometime last year, a suitable boy made an appearance. She knew she couldn’t make babies, but what was wrong with a little window fling? Especially when it was always in her territory?

So he is well-scrubbed. And not loud. Worth dating!

So he is well-scrubbed. And not loud. Worth dating!

He of course started playing hard to get. Like most idiotic men.

Will he? Won't he?

Will he? Won’t he?

And soon it was Christmas again and he was ‘so last year’.

Wake me up when Christmas is over!

Wake me up when Christmas is over!

She had the art of creating space out of nothing. A lot of space.

Okay, I have put on weight. So has everyone else in this house.

Okay, I have put on weight. So has everyone else in this house.

She even endured Re’s stories on loop. Although she knew that Bravo, being the more mushy, clingy one would always get Re’s attention more.

Now we'll have to endure his stories every day.

Now we’ll have to endure his stories every day.

And sometime last month, she stopped eating. And started throwing up. And there began an unending journey to the vet’s clinic. She didn’t like it one bit, but she did everything she could to not make it harder for us.

I wouldn't have agreed to this, but I rather like Michelle, the doctor.

I wouldn’t have agreed to this, but I rather like Michelle, the doctor.

Her kidneys were badly damaged. She had numbers on her report card that would put any school kid to shame. All values far exceeded anything that was deemed normal. And then one day, she told me, “Enough of this. Leave me alone.” And I did. She left for cat heaven early next morning. She had a full house at her farewell.

Thank you guys for standing by me. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Thank you guys for standing by me. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

The next morning, her boyfriend reappeared. I told him it was too late.