Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Different Summer

I was looking through some pictures from last summer today. Man, we had a good time last summer. And man, we had a terrible time last summer.

This summer has been different. It has been tough since Peggy has been going back and forth to Dallas a couple of times per month, but at least we know what we are dealing with. Last summer we were on the beginning of the journey with her Mom and we had no idea where it would end up.

Pooling by day…
…and dancing by night

The summer started well. I say “summer” advisedly because my definition of summer is warm weather. I had just returned from a weekend with my lifelong friends in New Orleans, and Peggy and I flew to Cancun for a week. We had a blast. Beautiful weather. Beautiful girl. Too much to eat and drink. In other words, everything you could want in a vacation!

WWe returned home and Peggy immediately went into high gear. She took her Mom to numerous doctor visits until we got the news from the doctor that Peggy’s mother could no longer live on her own. Then it was time to find her mother a memory care facility that was good enough to fit Peggy’s standards.

Peggy was in constant communication with her siblings about timing and how everything was going to work. One year ago this weekend they moved their Mom out of her house and into a beautiful memory care facility right next to the church Peggy’s mother attends.

With Peggy working so hard to help her mother, I rented a condo at the lake for the summer to give her the opportunity to relax. We got a membership at a boat club and spent hours on the lake. We played golf. We hung out. She had some respite from the constant heartache and pressure.

Finally, one year ago this weekend, Peggy and her siblings moved her mother out of her home of nearly fifty years. In one week’s time, they got everything out of the house, fixed everything that needed fixing, painted the interior of the house, had new floors installed in the entire house, and put the house on the market.

I picked Peggy up in Dallas at the end of the week and took her to Colorado. We hiked, we played golf, we rode bikes, we had wonderful friends come to visit, all in the incredible, cool weather. The trip was just about perfect.

We were in Dallas today celebrating Mary’s 85th birthday with her this morning before heading to Colorado for vacation. It was a fun time with her. She knows us and seems to really enjoy every visit. Peggy is a wonderful daughter and makes it a point to visit Mary as often as possible.

Happy Birthday breakfast with Mary

The visit with Mary is what prompted the review of the pictures from last year. It’s funny — I don’t know if we have ever had more fun than we had last summer. And I don’t know if I have ever watched someone work harder or have more heartache than what I saw Peggy go through last summer. It was wonderful and it was painful.

I just know I never want to do it again.

Pepper

I am a cat guy.

I know I run the risk of losing some of you by opening with that statement, but it’s the truth. I love dogs, too — Peggy and I have had at least one dog for the past twenty-five years — but I get cats.

One night my brother and I were driving back late at night from a business dinner with a couple of other guys in the car. We were tired so we stopped at a truck stop. After walking around a bit I sat on the curb outside the building, and a big white tomcat came out of nowhere and jumped in my lap. I petted on him until the others came out of the truck stop. When the other two guys saw the cat sitting on me, my brother noticed their confused looks. “That’s been happening to him since he was a baby,” he told them.

Today we had to put down the feline matriarch of the family. We got Pepper from the vet’s office when she was a kitten. We had just lost a cat (to coyotes, I think) in San Antonio, and Peggy thought she was too cute to leave with the vet.

From the very beginning we were convinced she was some special breed of cat. She is the most intelligent cat I have ever known, and her vocabulary of words understood is ridiculous. If you talk she knows she is supposed to answer, so she tries to involve herself in every conversation. And I have never seen a cat that jumps as high as she does. We have eight-foot ceilings in the bedroom and see jumps from the floor to bat the chain on the ceiling fan!

She was never a mother, but all four kittens we have had since we got her were raised by Pepper. The first two she even “nursed” for a few weeks (she had no milk) before “weaning” them. It was just natural to her. 

Pepper owned me from the very beginning. Every morning when I get up she stands on the bathroom counter, puts her paws on my chest and rubs her head under my chin. She likes to stand on my shoulders and rub her face in my hair, and I can’t shave without her jumping up to sit on my shoulder. If I sit down in the house she gets on me, and she fusses at me every time I make her get up.

Pepper is the smallest cat we have ever owned, but she is fiercely protective and does not like strangers. We have had more than one person tell us they were afraid to enter our house when we were not with them because they were afraid of the “crazy cat”. Once we got a call from Mike’s babysitter, a 180-pound high school athlete, that he was stuck in the laundry room because Pepper wouldn’t let him out.

She has mellowed somewhat with age, but she still has the same reaction to anything that scares her — instead of running away she runs toward it. What a great life lesson from a cat. Attack the things that cause fear instead of running from them.

Pepper turned 18 in April (all of our animals are rescues, so we celebrate all of their birthdays on April 15. It gives us a reason to celebrate the day). Up until the last few months she had been her usual active, spry self. It became apparent lately, however, that she was suffering and in pain. When the doctor told us today there was nothing he could do to alleviate the issue or her pain, we made the decision. She is the sixth pet for whom we have endured this, and it never gets any easier.

I will miss her tomorrow morning when I get up and she is not on the bathroom counter to greet me. It is amazing to be loved like that.

Rest well, Pepper.

Pepper sleeping with Shoody. She’s really that small.

Pop Ups

I don’t post a lot on social media. This blog is my outlet, so I don’t have a lot of need to post pictures of what I am eating or funny pet videos (though I enjoy a good pet video as much as anybody).

My favorite aspect of social media, though, are the “memories” that pop up reminding you of something that you posted about previously. I always enjoy seeing the comments and pictures with the benefit of time passing.

The memory that popped up today was this picture:

Ironically, the name of the place was Blu’s

This photograph, besides being a picture of an absolutely stunning woman, evokes many memories. But not from that night. Even though that night was memorable in itself.

The dress and necklace that Peggy is wearing were both from our 25th anniversary trip to Santorini Island off the coast of Greece in 2010. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. At least to date…

We hope to go back sometime in the future, but we created enough memories on that one trip to last forever. And seeing this picture this morning made all of those memories come flooding back.

Thank you, social media, for this delight.

I’m going to have to suggest that she wears the dress the next time we go out.