That’s the song I sang to Tom Cat Dresser as the visiting vet euthanized my sweet boy on my bed. I had often sung that tune to him along with other ditties over his six years with me.
Tom was the rescue cat who rescued me. I adopted him from a shelter in Burbank, CA, where he selected me and my granddaughter, Leila, as his forever family. The shelter said he was six; later I realized he was closer to ten.
BT (Before Tom), my husband, Harold, had been in home hospice for a year and I was his sole caregiver. During that time, I set aside all obligations to concentrate on him, and immediately after Harold’s death, I began taking care of everything that had been put on hold: bathroom remodeling; household maintenance; mammogram; colonoscopy, shoulder replacement. Then when all manic activity ceased, I went into an emotional slump. One daughter recommended that I get a cat. “They’re low maintenance, Ma.”
Tommy has never been low maintenance. After a vet checked him out, I discovered he had kidney disease, a heart murmur and high blood pressure. He required special food and meds, but it was too late to give him back. I already loved him.
I have never regretted Tom becoming a part of our family. He learned the Yiddish word “shluffy” (sleep) and accompanied me to my bed at night. He was very talkative and answered when I called his name. Sometimes, he seemed too lazy to make a sound and just opened his mouth to answer silently. That made me laugh. He made me laugh every day. He brought me physical and emotional comfort when he snuggled with me. Most of all, he reflected the love that I gave to him.
Dear Tommy: Rest in Peace.
Norine Dresser is a folklorist who eventually will rescue another cat after a respectable time of grieving.