Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Tribute to Morris J Swartz

My cat Morris passed away last year on 8-14-07. My Dad and sister took him to the vet when they found him very sick, in obvious pain, and was not himself. He was put to sleep, and the vet thinks that he had a stroke. My cat was 18 years old.

He found his way to our house in Fenton via my father after he found him in the warehouse he worked in. It was September 1st, 1989: My 10th birthday. According to Dad, it was coincidental that he brought him home on that day, for that is the day he was lucky enough to catch him. My family and I had no idea Dad was bringing home a new family member, so this was a happy nd delightful surprise to all of us. Me especially, since he was suave enough to pass it on as a gift since we weren't rich nor poor, and a gift for a ten year girl in 1989 couldn't be anything better than a kitten.

We (well, my folks, since I wasn't old enough to know how) assumed that he was around 8-10 weeks old. So, we decided his birthday would be on the 4th of July. No biggie, since who celebrates animal birthdays? I severely wanted to name him Cupcake for some weird reason, and thanks to my parents (I am grateful, for at 10, Cupcake is an AWESOME name) they named him Morris, since he looked like Morris the cat from the 9 Lives commercials and cat food. This totally pissed me off, of course, because 10 year old little girls want to have their way, and I didn't get mine.

But at that age, I loved animals more than humans (I still do), and I would like to think that I had a special bond with any animal I met. Like they knew that I wanted to love them. Well, Morris' first move once my dad set him down on the floor was a quick scurry and behind the trash can he stayed. Both Mom and Dad tried to coax him out, and Jessica, my sister did too. As soon as I gave it a go he warmed right up to me, let me pick him up with no fight, and was purring by the time I had him in my arms. It was immediate and reciprocated unconditional love, and he became my best friend.

At the age of 11, when I was in 6th grade, I unfortunately fell victim to being the kid in class that always got picked on and beat up. This one kid (I am going to leave him nameless) made an abominable statement, that at THAT time, should have NOT been uttered by 11 or 12 year olds, let alone know what he was talking about. Anyhow, it escalated into much more worse things, and about 4 or 5 other boys chimed in, and they all made my life a living hell. Getting beaten up in gym class came a little later, and I never told my parents about it until I became an adult. Truth is, it was one of those things that become a repressed memory. I didn't even remember it until after I graduated from high school and after I went into the Army.

So anyways, the getting picked on would get so bad that I would fight back, and in turn, the boys made it look like I was the one starting all of it. My 6th grade teacher even said that if they were still allowed to paddle kids in school, I would be first in line every morning for the switch. That's always something nice to hear wen your 11. I realize now that he had alot to do with why the fact that I was being tormented by those kids never ceased. When my teacher would leave (this happened about 10 times, and not once did anyone call my parents) I would grab my things and leave quickly, telling the other kids that I went to the bathroom. I would then proceed to walk the mile trek home to my house.

I would get home, still in tears, drop off my things, and fall face first into the pillow on my bed. Before I knew it, there was a shedding orange fuzz ball rubbing up against me, purring loudly as if to say, "I'm so happy to see you!" Of course he's a cat, and probably had no idea that I was sad, nor probably had no idea what the emotion is. I would always have enough time to clean my face up and keep it from my folks what was going on.

My tears stopped flowing. Into my arms came my little man. He lived me for absolutely no reason, and he made sure I knew about it. At that same age, I would go away for 2 weeks in the summer for Girl Scout camp, and when I would get home, they first thing my parents would say would be some remark that they were glad I was coming home because Morris wouldn't stop crying when I was gone. Of course he would meow just once, and we'd hang out, and no one was alone.

In a sense, me and that cat grew up together. Back in 2004, he got very sick with sepsis and fever and I thought I was going to lose him. I couldn't even drive to the vet that day, I was such a mess. My friend Nisar picked me and Morris up and went to the Humane Society to get him looked at. I was crying so hard, I was heaving and couldn't catch my breath. (you know , the kind of crying where you have snot all over your face and you don;t give a damn?) When the vet told me he was going to make it, I can only compare the feeling of relief to someone on death row getting the governor's pardon. I couldn't imagine my world without my best bud.

Well, last year in August, I had a pretty good understanding that my cat was around 18, and in bad shape. (he still could get around, and use the kitty pan) I was set to come home from Alaska in September, and I had it in good faith he would make it in time for me to come home, spend some time with him, and humanely put him down at the vet's, so that he wouldn't have to suffer, and he could go peacefully. I wanted ot make sure I could hold him and let him know that I loved him.

I was too late.

I got home from work and my roommate told me to call my father. He had called 3 times and left a message for me to call him no matter what time it was. (St. Louis was 3 hours ahead of Nome, AK) This message made me weary, since I know Dad goes to bed early. It must be serious if he doesn't care what time I called him back. I called and he answered.

"Dad, what's going on? Is everything all right?"

"Sarah, I don't know how to tell you this honey..."

I knew what he was going to say. My heart fell to my stomach before he could finish out telling me that Morris was put down. My dad and sister Jessica had dutifully taken care of Morris and Chloe (My other cat) since I embarked to work in Alaska. I know that they loved him like a member of the family, and took great care of him. My sister got on the phone and was in tears telling me how terrible a shape he was, and how when he finally took his last breath, as she was holding him, that he peed all over her. The only other thing she could get out without choking on her words was that he went fast, and he wasn't in any pain, and that it had to be done.

I only regret not being there, and that is something I can never get back.

In all of my emotions, I managed to tell my dad that I wanted Morris cremated and I wanted his ashes and that I would pay him back. Dad didn't hear me say anything about the ashes, so I never got them back. I am truly sad about this, and I regret that when he told me he had no idea what I was talking about, that I yelled to high heaven at him, and of course started crying. (not what Daddies want to hear from their little girls)

So now, in the loneliest time of my life, even though I have my sweetheart Chloe with me, (thank God I have her) I still felt the need to have Morris with me. I was driving home from Gilroy, CA tonight, and I took a wrong turn on El Camino Real. I saw a shanty of a tattoo shop and I turned around and walked on in. So, I figured 'what the hell?'. I was in and out in a half an hour. (no worries, it was clean inside, but all of a sudden I felt like I was transported into some old Eat-Rite-turned-Tattoo-Shop in Franklin County)

I decided on the letter "M" for Morris, obviously. I decided to have it placed on the inside of my foot: where Morris always was....At my feet.

I will always miss him, but I am forever grateful that my Dad caught him and took him home that night.

R.I.P. Morris J Swartz
July 4, 1989-August 14, 2007

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Steve said...

Your posting is a nice tribute to Morris. A good pet is a wonderful thing.

Swartzie said...

Thanks Steve. I am finally starting to get over the loss now. I feel like a big monkey is off my back now. I am going to the Humane Society this week to look at potential new family members! I hop I can find one suitable for my little girl Chloe, who is very picky...