As one door closes…

Tri-County Vanguard - - OP-ED - Steve Bartlett

As the grey door shut, a tear slowly streamed down my cheek.

Jake was with the ve­teri­nar­ian now, about to lay down for the fi­nal time in a life where ly­ing hor­i­zon­tal was the norm.

More tears flowed as I walked away.

I never ex­pected to be this up­set, which was com­pletely fool­ish and un­re­al­is­tic of me.

Jake came into our fam­ily 18 years ago. She was born in a barn and given to the friend of a friend af­ter the farmer no­ticed how much she like peo­ple. The cat came our way af­ter her one of her own­ers dis­cov­ered an al­lergy.

At the time I was liv­ing with my sis­ter in an old house that was a mag­net for mice.

Peo­ple sug­gested we get a cat and we took Jake in with open arms. She was our mouser.

The pre­vi­ous own­ers called her “Flops” be­cause she had an ear that flopped over — some­thing noted by ev­ery­one who saw her. We re­named her Jake for rea­sons I can’t re­mem­ber.

I never had a cat, and at first, I had lit­tle time for this one.

But no mat­ter how much I pushed her away or re­sisted, she kept try­ing to sit on my lap or lie on my ch­est. I soon be­came un­ex­pect­edly at­tached to Jake, and her never re­lent­ing, al­ways for­giv­ing com­pan­ion­ship.

I also loved that she could ac­tu­ally do tricks, well, one trick.

There was this Bert stuffy — as in Ernie and Bert — that Jake would fetch like a dog. No mat­ter where you threw it, she’d go get it and bring it back.

When my fu­ture wife came into the pic­ture, she and Jake be­came fast friends and were al­most in­sep­a­ra­ble. So, when my sis­ter moved, and I set­tled into my own house, she gave us Jake.

The cat has been part of our fam­ily ever since. It has spent the past 10 years ei­ther snug­gling with my wife or kids or ly­ing in the sun when­ever it shined through the win­dows.

As the per­son who fed Jake and cleaned the lit­ter box, I’ve cer­tainly had my frus­tra­tions with her.

For the past while, I could not move un­til she had food. She’d meow loudly and end­lessly and park un­der my feet un­til I filled her bowl. And the last go­ing off, she didn’t use the lit­ter box as much, which meant I spent a lot more time clean­ing than wanted.

That was get­ting a bit much and I was get­ting fed up with it.

That’s why I never ex­pected to be so up­set when it was her time.

But I guess as in any re­la­tion­ship, you don’t al­ways re­al­ize how much you care un­til the per­son or an­i­mal is gone.

I miss Jake. It’s a big change not hav­ing her around.


Speak­ing of changes, my col­umn is soon tak­ing a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

In­stead of shar­ing these per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences, I’m go­ing to fo­cus on the pow­er­ful sto­ries and sto­ry­tellers I have the priv­i­lege of work­ing with ev­ery day.

The goal is to give read­ers some in­sight into our im­por­tant work and the peo­ple be­hind it.

Look for my pic­ture ac­com­pa­ny­ing a col­umn with a dif­fer­ent name in the weeks to come.

A sin­cere thanks to my Deep End read­ers for spend­ing a few min­utes with me each week.

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