Friday morning, we said goodbye to Tommy. It was completely unexpected and heartbreaking – you can read the details of what happened either on Fred’s Facebook post, or in Saturday’s entry (where I cut and pasted Fred’s Facebook post).
This was completely out of left field – Tommy wasn’t a young cat, but we certainly expected him to live to be older than 10. He had autoimmune issues (as did Sugarbutt), and he’s slowed down in the past few years, but he was pretty healthy. He spent his days either inside near the air vent in the front room (where the cool air comes out) or hanging out in various areas of the back yard. I am so grateful that we were able to be with him in his last few minutes, and that the last thing he heard was both of us telling him what a good boy he was and how much we loved him.
I had just finished writing my thank you cards for the people who donated in honor of Sugarbutt’s memory Thursday night. We had no idea this was coming.
He was the center of our clowder. Everyone loved him; he had such a calming energy that all cats gravitated to him almost immediately.
Our center is gone, and we are reeling.
We buried him in the back yard, next to his brother Sugarbutt, at the fenceline where he liked to sit and watch the birds and chickens and dogs.
Tommy (then Barrett) and Sugarbutt (then Sad Eyes) along with their brother Smitty (who was Sugarbutt’s twin) and tortie sister Little Cal, came to us at the end of September 2005. They were almost 12 weeks old. I don’t know what their situation was before they came to us, but they were a friendly bunch of kittens.
The whole litter was friendly, but Tommy was especially so. If I sat down, he was immediately in my lap, rolling around purring and wanted to be petted. He loved to have his belly rubbed, and would purr up at me with one paw raised over his head, a move that we referred to as “praising the Lord.”
The whole litter was slated to go off to Petsmart in October, but the day they were to go, Tommy started mysteriously limping. I decided to keep him at home for another day or two to be sure he was okay, while the rest of the litter went. That night, Fred and I talked about what a cool kitten he was. I danced around the subject of keeping him, but didn’t outright ask, because the deal Fred and I made when we first started fostering was that I wouldn’t ask to keep any of the fosters.
(Yeah. I know. MY HOW THE WORM HAS TURNED.)
We started talking about better names for him, and at one point Fred suggested the name Tom Cullen (which is a name from Stephen King’s The Stand, if you’re not already aware of that) and said we could call him “Moon.” We laughed, and threw around some more names, and then Tommy went off to the foster room and Fred went to bed.
Fred woke me up the next morning by putting Tommy on me, and said “We can keep him, BUT his name has to be Tom Cullen.”
Sugarbutt was adopted and then returned, and after about a week apart, the brothers were reunited.
I love that they were able to spend their lives together, but so sad that their lives weren’t as long as they should have been.
We refrained from fostering for a year (at Fred’s request), and in that time Tommy became good friends with Mister Boogers. They became buddies and partners in crime.
When we started fostering again, that’s when we realized what a wonderful Ambassador Tommy was to the fosters. He didn’t seek out their company, but when they came around – and they always did, drawn by his wonderful calming energy – he was so very patient with them and so willing to clean their ears.
He loved to be on and in things – especially boxes. I’d get so excited when a good box arrived at the house, because I knew it would make Tommy happy.
He was the ultimate gentleman, dignified even when we put silly hats on him. He was patient and kind to his humans as well as cats and chickens. He was snuggly without being pushy, and if you felt sad or overwhelmed by life, he’d let you hold him for as long as you needed to.
As much as everyone loved Tommy, no one loved him more or with more passion than Stinkerbelle, of course.
I’ve said repeatedly in the past eight years that I hoped Tommy would outlive Stinkerbelle, because she would be lost without him. I’m so sad for her that he’s gone; she took a lot of comfort from him. It’s only been a few days, so I don’t know that she understands he isn’t here. She isn’t acting any differently than usual, at least not yet.
This house is so quiet now; Tommy was never a noisy cat, but the lack of him now is deafening. I know the shape of our clowder will reform around his absence, leaving a scar where he was. I’m grateful that we had 10 years with him, but it wasn’t long enough.
It never is.
Goodbye, sweet Tommy. We will miss you so very much.
If you’re of a mind to, donations can be made in Tommy’s name to Challenger’s House.
They accept donations by mail (check or money order), by phone (Mastercard/VISA), or there’s a Paypal button at the bottom of the Petfinder page.
112 Tristian Rd.
Toney, AL 35773
2014: No entry.
2013: Hallo there, Norbs. You need a snuggle?
2012: And Wellington, you’re not so bad, either.
2011: The thing about Molly Peppers is that sometimes her mouth writes checks her Paw o’ Doom can’t cover.
2010: Something about grocery day really gets the Bookworms riled up.
2009: his hernia is FREAKIN’ ME OUT, MAN (also: Jake and Elwood show up!)
2008: No entry.
2007: (We don’t let Newt wander freely through the house, because being inside freaks him out and he’ll sit at the door to the outside and howl to go out. He’s not an indoor cat at ALL.)
2006: No entry.
2005: That’s just the way it seems to go for us.