Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Monk

The Monk, 2000-2008

I never intended for this space to become The Memorial Zone, but I never imagined we'd experience so much loss in such a short period of time, either. Because I don't want to be known as the chick who writes about dead stuff (though I probably am), I almost didn't post anything, but Monkey deserves a little tribute. She was, at one point in my life, just my cat. Now, because of all the subsequent furry friends to join our home, I feel compelled to say, "my first cat."

We shared several years of her being just my cat, and she showed up at a pivotal time in my life, so, I was very loyal to her, even though she sucked in so many ways. I like a spirited animal, though, so her suckage didn't bother me too badly, even though I learned through experience with other cats, that Monkey was indeed a kind of bad one.

My ex-husband and I split up in February of 2000, and Lacey and I moved into a small condo with a fireplace, a short time later. It was a dark, but transformative time in my life, with many quiet evenings spent in front of the fireplace with a book, music, red wine, and usually a can of Poppycock.

My ex-husband called one day, and suggested we go into therapy, to try to work things out. I was done. I knew it. But it was a low point for me, and I doubted my own judgment; also, I believed in marriage, even though in my heart, I knew there was no going back to that one. But I agreed. We decided to touch base the following week after we checked our options, and we'd set up an appointment. We talked the next week, and I suggested a couple of counselors and dates, but nothing worked for my ex. It turns out, he had a girlfriend, and they were planning a vacation right around that time.

Monkey walked into my place of work a day or so after this conversation/revelation with my ex. She jumped up on my desk, and headbutted me. I had no experience with cats at this point, and thought it was funny. Everyone in the office took it as a sign I should take the kitten home. I protested: I had a dog, I was renting, the lease only specified the dog, etc., etc., etc. Everyone went out at lunchtime, and bought me a load of cat supplies, and, so, I took the little monster home with me that evening.

My ex-husband had a significant cat allergy, and I decided to commit to the cat.

Kittens are hard, but Monkey was harder. She destroyed all of my plants, the curtains; she "talked" all day and all night; she never slept, and for about a year, neither did I, always on guard for my very real monster under the bed. She positioned herself behind the couch, the headboard, and doors, and would spring out and attack, or swat from her little hidey-holes. She drew copious amounts of blood. And, inexplicably, she adored Lacey. Lacey tolerated her, I think, to please me.

After his vacation, my ex-husband stopped by with my mail, and commented that my acquisition of Monkey sealed our fate as a couple: we were done, since he was allergic. He added that Monkey was adorable, but violent; one of his friends just acquired a kitten who was cuddly and lovable. Monkey, on cue, sliced open his leg. I scolded her, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't smiling a little on the inside.

Monkey's energy didn't really decline as she grew into adulthood, but she became slightly less violent. During this introspective time in my life, I loved to come home after work to "my girls," even though one of them was a mouthy, cantankerous cat. I loved to say, "Hi Monkey," to her, and she'd meow back at me, but it wasn't a normal, friendly meow, but rather, a cranky, "what do you want?" kind of sound. Every time I said her name, she'd make the "What do you want?" meow back at me. Over and over. I'm kind of a moron, I guess, because this provided me with a decent amount of entertainment. Life was cozy, and I was content.

The Monk lets The Snowman know who is boss.

Glen and I got together about two years later, and Monkey just loved Glen. She'd sit above him on the couch, or in bed, and purr. Purr. Purr. I thought it was sweet. But Glen is greedy about his sleep, and does not like to be disturbed. He came up with many a nickname for her, too rude to mention here. She scratched the moldings in our house. She got into the dishwasher. She bit me. She continued to destroy plants, and never slept. She ate constantly. She got into the laundry, my work papers, the newspaper. She missed the litter box. Despite our best efforts, she always slept on the stove.

It got to the point where I could sense that Glen was going to nudge me to choose between him and Monkey. I'd like to say I'm one of those people who would never choose an animal over a person, but I'd like to think I don't choose people who'd make me choose. Glen knew this, and we discussed all of our options, and consulted with everyone we knew, and many, many people said, "Get another cat." So, we did. For awhile, it was just Lacey, Monkey and Simon, and Simon kept Monkey busy enough that she left Glen alone. So, Glen stayed.

Monkey received a Virgin Mary statue to help guide her toward better behavior. It didn't work.

But then we moved to Trenton, and, well, cats happen.

The Monk did not do well in Trenton. She didn't like the other animals, mostly. She got incredibly fat, and it wasn't from overfeeding her. Her teeth started to fall out. She had a minor flea issue a few years ago, which led to tapeworms. I know this can happen, if an animal eats flea eggs, which have been contaminated with tapeworm eggs (sometimes the circle of life is disgusting), but it never happened to anyone else I knew. Just Monkey. She continued to miss the litter box. She scratched the walls. She bit me. But she never stopped purring. We kept her isolated in our TV room, until a couple of weeks after we brought Matthew home. She seemed more social, and the other cats seemed too occupied with the baby to go after Monkey. We had a good couple of months, and I'm glad for that.

Monkey got a bit lazy in the last week, but we weren't too concerned, because it was getting chillier outside, and she was stationed near the heaters. She rallied a bit toward the end of the week, and we had a good morning yesterday. She positioned herself in the living room window, and I always loved how she looked in a window. By 5 p.m., she couldn't lift her head, and she died around 11 p.m.

She purred constantly, and years ago, a friend told me she'd probably outgrow it, but The Monk never did. She always purred. In fact, she purred right up until the end last night. I'm gonna miss that sound.


Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Monkey. There's a special place in heaven for humans who stick with "difficult" pets right through to the bitter end!

Elise said...

So sorry about Monk. It was quite a touching tribute. She was lucky to have you. ... The Thanksgiving 1987 photo is bringing back SO many memories. Your Mom, you, Jenny, Mike ... I'm back at your house sleeping on the couch in the den. Can't we have it all back for just one day?