Dickens said that life is about meetings and partings; that is the way of it. Or maybe it was Kermit the Frog. But the point remains the same: those who come in to our lives eventually must leave, and we are left behind to somehow muddle on without them. This week, we said goodbye to our 20-year-old cat TimToms. He was part of our family the moment my Mom showed up with him at our house, back in 2008.
I had just lost Snorky, who had been hit by a car in my neighborhood, and I was distraught without a cat. I did find Jenny, who was maybe 6 months old, left alone in the rain to wander, and I took her in. That was right around Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, my Mom’s friend, who was a veterinarian, said she had a 6 year old cat who lived on her porch and was henpecked to death by her other cats. Would I like him? I would.
When Mom drove to Atlanta for Christmas that year, she brought this big, fluffy, growling hot mess of a cat with green, human eyes. He lived under the bathroom sink about two or three months. We didn’t see him often; we had his box and his food in the bathroom and left him pretty much alone. Sometimes, I would peer under the sink to see how Thomas (as he was then known) was doing. He would growl, and I’d leave him alone again. Meanwhile, Jenny ruled the roost. After some time, he moved into our bedroom closet and lived there for a few more months. And then one day, he just decided he no longer wanted to live by himself and came out and joined us. After that, he never left us alone. He was always out and about and underfoot, looking for anyone to love.
TimToms was the kind of cat who never met a stranger. Sure, he would growl a little (it was a “love growl,”) when my Mom or my sister would come to visit, but after a minute or two, he’d decide that he liked them, and he would jump in their laps and be ready for pets. The same with other guests. He’d be momentarily shy, but as soon as they showed a modicum of interest, he had found a new friend.
He loved any love that was a love. Even when you’d push him off of you, he’d come right back, and you’d find yourself petting him despite yourself. He loved to lick—especially people’s heads. And his purr was loud as a lawnmower. He could quite happily sit next to you (or on you) as long as you let him.
Initially Jenny wasn’t too keen with him, but he won her over with his persistent good humor (he never fought or bit or engaged in any typical scrabbling for dominance, despite being more than twice her size); he would groom her, and they’d curl up together on the bed or the couch and sleep. She liked him, she decided, and the two became good friends. (I can tell she misses him, because it seems like she’s looking for him. She’s also meowing a lot, which isn’t typical for her.)
When Wrigley joined us in 2014 (?), he was thrilled to have someone new to hang with. Wrigley didn’t take to him as Jenny had, but she also didn’t seem to mind him, and they lived together, if not as friends, at least cordially.
He was our darling boy for 14 years. He loved nachos and watching football with his Daddy. He liked to sit on my shoulder when I was crocheting—even when I didn’t want him there! He made every day better with his joie de vivre and his loving, generous, and forgiving heart.
This last year was hard for him; he’d gone deaf, he pooped everywhere except his box, and he was hungry all the time but losing weight. But no matter his physical frailties, he stayed full of love and loyalty. I’m afraid that I wasn’t nearly as patient as I could have been with him this last year, but I know he forgave me, because he followed me everywhere and wanted to be with me as much as I’d let him.
And I’ m so brokenhearted that he’s gone. I know he’s crossed the Rainbow Bridge and he’s happy and whole again—playing with Thad and Baby and The Kins and Snorky and Chubu and all the cats we loved who’ve crossed before him—and I’m happy that he’s free of pain and limitations. But I miss his funny personality, and the way he was more doglike than catlike, and the way he bonked and purred and drank water out of the bathroom cup and took his paw and would flick the water on the bathroom mirror with the perfect Harry Potter “swish and flick.” I miss how he loved to eat, and would get catfood on his nose. I miss how he would eat plastic bags and bite and chase our toes. I even miss how he would sleep on my head at night, or sit on my head in the daytime when I was reading. I just miss him, and while I’m grateful for the 14 years we had him with us, I wish it could have been longer. Fourteen years doesn’t seem nearly enough.
Rest in peace, sweet TimToms. Know we’ll always love you.
Here’s a little video with mostly photos of TimToms (and a few with Jenny). (Don’t listen with the sound on though…the soundtrack is annoying.)
Here’s another video with TimToms battling the Christmas tree.