Blu

Our eldest cat, Blu, passed away August 3rd at around 19 years of age.

It was almost 14 years ago that I spotted her picture online while looking for a cat to adopt. We thought she looked so pretty with her big green eyes, and it wasn’t long before the adoption papers were signed and we were bringing her home. The shelter had named her Blue because she didn’t like being there and had become depressed, but after trying to come up with a name more fitting, we simply decided to drop the “e” and Blue became Blu.

She wasn’t always the easiest cat to love. She had weird litter box habits, and would sometimes pee outside the box if it wasn’t clean enough to suit her. It got so bad at one point that I took her back to the shelter, only to feel guilty and go get her the next day.

She drooled when she purred, didn’t really care for the other two cats we added to the household, and rarely ever wanted to be held. But despite her flaws, she was one of the most beautiful cats I had ever seen.

A few months ago, her health started declining. One side of her face became paralyzed, and she started losing weight. We suspected a stroke, but the vet felt like facial paralysis or a tumor was more likely. We tried everything to get her to eat, but her appetite kept dwindling.

The week before she died, she spent several nights in the hospital getting fluids and medication through an IV. We visited her every day, and although she seemed better initially, it was clear after a couple of days that she wasn’t really improving. We brought her home on a Friday afternoon, and realized we had to do what we had been hoping to avoid.

The vet arrived Saturday afternoon, and after telling her we loved her, we held her one last time as he put her to sleep. It was one of the hardest days of my life.

This beautiful animal came into our lives just after Honey and I met in 2005, so we have known her almost as long as we have known each other. She was a member of our family. We chose her, we loved her, and we will miss her terribly.

Rest in peace, baby girl.

Our dream home

Last spring, after months of viewing properties in real life and online, Honey and I decided to stop looking, stay put, and remodel our existing home. We knew this route would mean giving up on some of the things on our wish list, but spending so much time looking for somewhere else to live had left us both feeling anxious and unsettled. I deleted real estate apps from my phone, started drawing up a plan for adding on a third bedroom and master bath, got a few estimates, and paid a carpenter $10,000 down to start construction of a detached garage.

A day or two later, while at work, I happened to walk behind a coworker who had Zillow open on their computer. There, on the side of the screen, was a thumbnail of a beautiful Craftsman-style home that was FSBO and just happened to be in the exact, desirable location that we had been dreaming of. I asked him to click on it, oohed and aahed at the photos, and said, “If we hadn’t already agreed to stay where we are, I would show that house to Hubie.”

The next morning, I wound up in the emergency room due to blood pressure problems. While lying there waiting for more tests, I casually mentioned the house. After showing him the listing, he said, “If you are seriously interested in it, you had better call and schedule a showing.” I told him to go drive by it and let me know if he liked it before I scheduled anything.

He returned an hour or so later, and had taken pictures from the driveway. I could tell he was just as interested as I was, so I texted our realtor to see if she could set something up. She made an appointment for the next afternoon.

Friday, after work, Hubie and I took Amanda with us to see the house. From the moment we arrived, Hubie and I were in awe. Everything from the extensive crown molding to the landscaping was breathtakingly beautiful. I was extremely happy to see the wooded lot next door would be included in the sale, since I had become accustomed to having a larger amount of acreage at our current home.

They say you know when you find the right home, but I have always been a skeptical person. After walking through the house, we all sat down in the living room and I just kind of knew.

We slept on it, then made an offer early the next morning. The sellers had until 6pm on Sunday to respond. Obviously, we were on pins and needles, and the sellers took their time. Sunday, around one o’clock, we were out driving by the house when my phone rang. Alberta said they had a counter-offer, and we accepted immediately. They asked for 60 days to move, and although we thought it was excessive, we were so happy to have it under contract that we agreed.

Sixty days took much longer to pass than I anticipated. I spent so much time looking at the photos and imaging living there. It seemed impossible that it was happening! I started ordering home decor and donating things that we didn’t want to move. We basically had our entire home boxed up by the end of June. Then they asked for more time.

While all of this was happening, we sold our existing home to one of my employees. He and his wife were delighted to get it, and also called it a “dream come true.” They were scheduled to close on their loan the same week we closed on our new home, and I knew they would be wanting to move in immediately. After talking with them and the sellers, we all agreed on one more week.

We were told we would get our keys on July 4th, so we had everything ready before going out to watch fireworks with friends. We had a Uhaul reserved for early the next morning, but we rushed home and loaded the back of the truck up with boxes while we waited for a text saying the sellers were out. Instead, they didn’t get done until 2am the next morning.

We got up early and rushed over to our new home. It was the greatest feeling in the world to experience the sense of wonder and the total disbelief that this house was ours!

We moved all that day and the next. It was two of the hottest days of the year with heat indices over 100 degrees, but we somehow managed to do it alone.

So, here we are almost 7 months later, and I have the same mixture of disbelief and happiness that I had that very first morning. I lay in bed at night with the greatest cat in the world curled up at my side, I look up at the amazing vaulted ceiling and crown molding, hear the soft sounds of my favorite person watching television in the living room, and wonder how in the world I got so lucky.

Time’s up

I came upon an auto accident this morning just before arriving at work. An SUV had pulled out at an intersection with a 4-lane, and had been hit by a sedan. Traffic was stopped in the oncoming direction, but I was able to pass. Aside from visible damage to both vehicles, it appeared that the cabs were intact, and I assumed any injuries would be minor.

What I didn’t see was the white sheet covering the body in the middle of the road.

Apparently, neither driver or passenger in the SUV were wearing restraints, and both were thrown from the vehicle. The 60-year-old driver died at the scene, and the passenger has serious injuries. The pilot of the much smaller car had some injuries, but the seat belt obviously saved her life.

When I found out just how bad the accident was, I started feeling very anxious, and I have been thinking of it off and on all day. I wondered what made the driver of the SUV pull into crossing traffic what was traveling almost 70 mph. Was she distracted by a phone? Was she busy talking to her passenger? What were her last words? Did she even have time to think about what has happening before it was all over? As she went about getting ready early this morning, I’ll bet dying was the last thing on her mind. But a few hours later, she is gone forever.

We never know when our time is up. All we can do is try to make the best of what little time we have, and be as kind as we can. It isn’t always easy to live in the moment or to treat others with the respect and attention they deserve, but we owe it to ourselves to be as present as possible.

It could all be over in a second.

You snooze, you lose

I learned something valuable this week. I have to stop letting fear dictate my decisions.

We looked at a house almost a month ago that we both really liked. It had an excellent floor plan, hardwood floors, beautiful wide trim, a fireplace, a whirlpool tub, and was in an picturesque neighborhood about 20 minutes away in a larger city. We went back a few days later to see it again, but we just couldn’t make up our minds.

It was almost perfect, but it would have been a big change. And we would have had to worry with listing and selling our current home as quickly as possible. So, feeling both scared of the change and the inevitable chaos our lives would be thrown into for a few months, we felt we should take our time and make sure we didn’t do something we regretted.

Tuesday evening, after a few weeks of back-and-forth, we finally decided to make an offer on the house. I excitedly contacted our realtor, submitted an offer electronically, and crawled into the bathtub to relax.

A few minutes later I received a text saying a contract had been signed on the property a couple of hours earlier.

I was heartbroken. Honey took it fairly well until the next day, and then he got depressed. We both realized that we simply took too long to decide, and that we let fear hold us back from what we both knew was the right decision for us to make.

I have often heard that you don’t typically regret the things you do, but the things you don’t do. While I don’t entirely agree with that sentiment, I certainly understand it a little better than I did a month ago.

They do exist

I would rather have Putin as President than Obama.

I never voted for Obama, and I certainly wasn’t going to vote for Hillary.

Donald Trump says the things we all wish we could say.

Gay marriage doesn’t make sense, because two men or two women can’t reproduce. If we only had gay marriage the human race would die off.

These things were said to my face earlier this week by a Trump voter – a man who used to identify as a Democrat.

The people in my area are so happy a white man is going to be President again they don’t care if he destroys their healthcare, embodies the seven deadly sins, or grabs women by the pussy.

#MindBlown

Different

Although you were several years my senior
There was an awkward kinship between us
An unspoken acknowledgement
Both swimming against the tide
Of social constructs around masculinity and gender

Once, while being being chastised for having long hair
And being called “effeminate”
I used you as an example
Of a Christian who seemed both gay and femme
I was sternly corrected with
“He’s just different”

Several years later
After I had come to terms with my own sexuality
I ran into you at a local gay bar
We shook hands
Both seemingly relieved that the pretenses
Were no longer necessary

I heard things about you through
The Gospel Grapevine
Religious tongue-waggers
With nothing better to do than
Ridicule those who are different

About your failed attempts at relationships
How you ultimately joined the Catholic faith
And devoted yourself to it
Much like a priest shelters himself inside the Church
To hide from his perverse inclinations
You probably felt you had a sickness
That you needed to protect yourself from

But you should have known that you
Like everyone else
Were fearfully and wonderfully made
And deserving of God’s love and acceptance
Whether or not God’s children ever gave you either

I heard you passed away the other day
And the thing that bothers me so much
The one question that nags at me is
Were you ever truly happy with yourself?

I hope so…

Carolyn

We unexpectedly lost one of our beautiful friends yesterday evening. We first met Carolyn in 2006, and she quickly became a fixture in our lives – frequently accompanying us to movies, restaurants, and even on the occasional road trip.

Some people don’t understand why we enjoy hanging out with elderly people, but if they had spent just a few moments with Carolyn they would have quickly discovered what a delightful person she was.

She was probably the least judgmental person I have ever known. She rarely had an unkind word to say about anyone – but if she did they were most assuredly deserving of it. It was simply her nature to see the good in people.

Carolyn was rarely anxious about the little things that so many of us stress over. She would wave away concerns over her leaking patio roof or who was going to be president, but she always cared enough to ask about the health of my family members or which plants I had purchased on a recent trip to the local nursery.

Carolyn could be extremely humorous without even trying. She is the only person I have ever known who treated a wig like a hat. She would haphazardly throw it on before leaving the house, and then hang it on the hat stand when she arrived at her sister Betty’s for a game of dominoes.

And speaking of dominoes, that was one game she was always happy to play regardless of how badly she felt, and she thoroughly enjoyed rebuking her sister for swapping out pieces when no one was watching.

Riding in the car while Carolyn was driving was its own kind of amusement. I will never forget how she said she liked to drive especially fast around the curve on Buckner because it made her feel “elegant.” When coming up behind a car at a stop light, she would wait until the very last second to slam on the brakes, leaving us passengers screaming like we were at a theme park.

She loved frozen yogurt – especially the Cake Batter flavor.

She read constantly.

She loved plants and gardening.

She was kind, and generous, and loving.

A French poet once said, “A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone.” Carolyn is gone, and we have certainly experienced a loss, but I also recognize what a blessing it was to have known her and to have been able to call her my friend.

I will miss her terribly.