a tribute.

My sweet father wrote a letter to the editor this morning about our cat, rusty.  I thought I would share it here on the blog, mostly because I want to document it.  You can choose to read it or not.  This is, after all, my little journal with you peaking in as you choose, dear cyberspace.

Day two after the passing of my little kitty has been a little better, although I am still terribly heartbroken.  Thank you for all your sweet comments and condolences.  You all are so wonderful!

Something you should know about my dad and Rusty is that they were the best of pals.  I wish I could say rusty loved me more than my dad, but I would be lying.  My dad was, after all, the one who fed him every morning.  Rusty used to jump up on my dad's bed and paw at my father's nose until he got up to feed him.  The two males in the household definitely stuck together.

It might seem weird that I'm so wrapped up in this, but I suppose it will help me grieve.  I still am so sad and in unbelief that he's gone.  The phrase I keep saying over and over to Lincoln is, "I'm so sad."

Here is my father's tribute to one of my most favorite friends I have ever had.

A few years ago there was a short article in the Deseret News reporting on a Veterinarian in California who postulated that we should no longer consider ourselves as pet "owners", but rather as caretakers of the animals we welcome into our homes.  I responded with a letter to the editor that I had no problem with altering my position, but I wondered how I could get my cat to stop thinking he owned me.  The cat I was referring to was hit by a car and killed Sunday morning.

Rusty came into our lives 13 years ago.  Two young boys appeared on our doorstep one warm July afternoon holding a cardboard box.  Inside were two tiny kittens.  One was an orange tiger stripe female.  The other was a white ball of fluff with the deepest blue eyes I had ever seen.  His only coloring was a splash of rust on both ears and the tip of his tail.  Hence his name, Rusty.  Our youngest daughter Jalene was nine.  She had come to us later in life.  Her older siblings had left the nest by then, and she had become an only child.  It seemed natural that a kitten would brighten her life.  We adopted Rusty into our lives. 

Rusty's personality soon began to emerge.  By the time he was a year old he had assumed the role of the dominant male in our home.  He choose when to be affectionate, and when to be aloof.  I think he realized early that he was not destined to be a hunter.  He lacked the necessary camouflage.  Much to his chagrin, each time he stepped outside the blue jays would begin a noisy dive bombing.  When a visitor would come to our home he would greet them with a casual sniff, and then walk away with indifference.  He soon learned that if he sat by the door and meowed, someone would open it.  But as often as not, he would only sniff the air, look outside for a while, and then decide he didn't want to go out after all.

When Jalene went away to college, Rusty decided he would sleep with us.  But his habit of curling up two inches from my nose brought a stop to that.  We shut him out of our bedroom.  From then on he retaliated by scratching and meowing at our door at four o'clock each morning.  But he eagerly returned to sleep with Jalene whenever she was home.  They both loved it.  They were close companions for more than half of her life.  Six weeks ago Jalene married her sweetheart.  There was no serious discussion of Rusty going to live with them.  Her husband has allergies.

Sunday morning I arose early to attend some meetings.  As was his custom, Rusty wanted to go outside.  He sat for a while on the edge of the deck and surveyed the back yard.  When I left he didn't want to come back in.  When my wife followed me to church she didn't realize he was still outside.  At 11:30 I was called out of class.  A kindly neighbor had seen it happen.  Rusty had darted out from behind some bushes into the street.  I doubt the driver even saw him.

There were no signs of injury.  We laid him on the foot of our bed where he would often nap during the daytime.  Jalene and her husband were called.  The tears flowed freely.  After a period of grieving, we gently wrapped and placed him in a box.  His resting place is among the flowers in our backyard.  

I now know with certainty that our pets do truly own us.  They own a big piece of our hearts.

I should mention that our sweet kind neighbors displayed every ounce of Christ-like qualities during this incident.  After the accident, the picked up Rusty and rushed him to a vet's home in our ward to see if there was any hope.  When they found there was none, they went and found my dad at church.  I was so glad we didn't have to drive up the street and see him there out in the road.  They spent some time talking to my parents about the time they lost one of their pets.  Then later that evening we found muffins on our porch with a note attached from them.  It read:

Pets teach us to live in the now, to enjoy life as it comes to us, and to love without asking questions.  They teach us what is most important life... and it's heartbreaking when they leave us.  

I'm so grateful we are surrounded by loving compassionate people.  I will be ever grateful for our kind neighbors.  

And thanks again for reading.  Life is wonderful and we are so happy.  I will be back to sharing with you soon. 


Michelle said...

that literally brought tears to my eyes! I love my doggied (even when they don't love me so much) and I would be devestated if they died suddenly.

I'm so glad your neighbors were there to help, I can't imagine having to drive up and see your beloved pet.... ahh I can't even type it.

I hope things get better soon. Sounds like he lived a good, good life!

Jennifer said...

Jalene, I'm so sorry about your poor Rusty. That made me tear up too as I remembered losing my puppy unexpectedly last year. I was a wreck for at least a week so I totally understand how torn up you must feel, especially after having him for so long. Hope you're ok!

CaLLie.ANN said...

This is such a wonderful lil' tribute. Your dad is a beautiful writer, must be where you get it. I'm sorry to hear about your little kitty.

Best wishes.

.M@k3nZ!e. said...

Not gunna lie, this made me cry a little... Im gunna miss that big fluffy kitty even though he didn't like us much. It's been a yr since we had to put Rudy down.. It still hurts but gets easier every day. Love you Jalene!

Heather said...

Your dad's letter brought a tear to my eye and tugged at my heart strings. It made me think of my own cat who passed a couple of years ago. Pets truly do own a piece of your heart.

What amazing neighbors as well! Truly wonderful people to have acted as they did.

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this. What a fantastic tribute - our pets change our lives in the best ways and it's always sad when they stop being in our lives.

Jessica Leigh said...

Jalene... I love you. And I'm sad too. I'm going to be oh-so-sad when my puppy dies (which probably will be relatively soon... she's old). They are a part of us.

RIP, Rusty

RSYoungFamily said...

Hi Jalene, I am so sorry to hear about Rusty. I know how much you, Mom, and Jon have loved him over the years, and I am very sorry about his loss. I remember how I had just moved out of the house, and how surprised Mom was that Jon agreed to get a pet. It was really out of character for him. You were probably too young to remember when our first cat Dusty died. I was a total mess for about a week, and hardly knew what to do with my self, and this was after knowing she was very old, and sick. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been if it was sudden like what happened with Rusty. I remember hearing about a study shortly after Dusty died, that said many people grieve more for the lost of a pet, than they do for the lost of some people in their lives. The reason for this is that unlike almost any other person in your life, a pet is always there for you, no matter what. They still love you in both the best and worst times, no matter what has happened. Your sadness is very understandable at this time, and will probably take awhile before it starts to fade. I hope Mom and Jon are okay, and let them know how sad we are for them.
Love Ryan

CAPow! said...

this made me cry. your dad's letter is beautiful, this post is so touching, and you have some of the best neighbors on the planet.
From experience, I can tell you that it will take a long time for the pain to subside, and it will probably never go away completely. But that's what happens whenever you lose someone you love, whether they have 2 legs or 4.

Nathan & Becca Campbell said...

Thank you for that. I have never had a pet in my life (I have allergies) so I have never been close to an animail before. Even though I haven't, doesn't mean that I didn't/or don't want to. Good luck with your grieving. I am so sorry for your loss Jalene.

whimsy said...

how touching. brought tears to the little ducts in my eyes. :) you have a great dad, who really is so thoughtful and caring, im sure you just have the best family. and at least, you still have them. but so sorry again, about your wee little rusty. he is just so handsome. i wanna give him a big squeeze. when i read that you dad said he had deep blue eyes, it made me think of my kitty when i was little, i was obsessed with cats; so my mom let me get my own and i choose a huge fat white one with china blue eyes. and i would drive it crazy cuz i would squeeze it too hard and try to play with it and harrass it too much ( i was like 3) so it would scratch me to death. we'd have to give it away. we did this with three of those cats. in a row. and my mom gave up. the only one who would put up with all my lovin for it was the cute little kitty i had my whole life who i told you about in your first post about it. well loves and prayers to you. i am so happy your neighbors were so kind and took such good care of you. let me know if there is anything i can do. i would love to help.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a beautifully, well-written, heart-felt letter. That brought tears to my eyes.

Sweet, Rusty cat. We had some good times. I may have been allergic to you, but you were my favorite cat. See you in heaven.

Grandma Kathleen said...

i also meant to say what a wonderful letter your dad wrote. and what wonderful neighbors you have. it would be awful to find your cat, dead, in the street. i know. it happened to me about 15 years ago.

Grandma Kathleen said...

i'm so sad about your cat. i know just how you feel. we had to put our cat down last august because of an infection. she was a wonderful pet and i still miss her. i love the letter your dad wrote!

Betsey said...

Hi Jalene, thank you so much for your comment -- and thank you for this post too. i love that quote at the end. i am so sorry about your cat, 13 years is a long time, and a lot of love. i completely 100% understand how you are feeling right now, it is just awful. i never thought i would be this upset and depressed about losing a cat. stay strong girl, keep trying to focus on the love Rusty brought to your family and the special moments you got to share.