Welcome to Redman's Rainbow Bridge Memorial Residency
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Memories of Redman
September 16, 2012: Today marks a year since I evicted Daddy. The precious angels who share my home - Pixie and Steeler - are the only normalcy in my life. What would I do without their need of me?

June 4, 2012: If I thought last year on this date was bad, Red guy, it's nothing compared to today - the 2nd anniversary. The stone I'm painting for you is much further along though still not done. And to the landscape I need to add a baby bunny who recently died in the garden. I buried him next to you among the wildflowers, wrapped in soft cloth and soft words. The pain continues . . . there's this hole in my heart that won't close. Plus I'm barely functioning with my emotional, financial, employment, and residual domestic abuse problems. How I want my cuddle bug beside me! Steeler tries. He's still a bit unsure if he's truly in his forever home so remains aloof at times to protect himself. I understand that. Please let him know he has a safe haven so we can comfort each other.

April 30, 2012: Quite a lot of time has passed. Since January, I've been helping a dear friend at work and unable to participate in the weekly vigils. You're always on my mind and near my heart, Redman. I'm not faring well though refuse to let this situation do me in. Pixie and Steeler depend on me, and I'd never let them down.

December 25, 2011: What a lonely holiday. I did the best I could to produce decorations, goodies, and dinner as I always had and failed somewhat on all counts. The basics were covered, so I guess I should feel good. The new challenges don't distract from missing you. They emphasize them. How will I cope?

November 24, 2011: Redman, this was another difficult Thanksgiving for two reasons - second without you and first without Daddy. I know you know what happened, and I know you approve. God gave me the strength and courage to rid my life of an abuser, not only of me but also of my precious felines. I somehow made the holiday happen . . . and in retrospect have much to be thankful for. It hasn't been easy with everything on my shoulders though I'm still standing. I stand for right, alone, family/friends/past and current cats in support.

August 20, 2011: Today Great Grandma A is gone a year. I thank God He called her when He did. My consolation is that both of you are forever together, enjoying health and happiness and companionship that neither of you could have on earth.

June 4, 2011: You crossed over the rainbow bridge a year ago today, my bestest boy. Where did the time go? I'm so sorry that I still haven't finished painting your stone. I need to set aside some quiet time and complete what I started on June 5, 2010 - morning glories, butterflies, hummingbirds, bumble bees, dragonflies, a picket fence, bird houses, trailing ivy . . . all the flora and fauna that was around you in the backyard. The mental picture I will always treasure is you enjoying the garden. Remember the day you drank from the hose while I was watering the tulips? Or the day you posed on the deck table that we made from a tree stump? How about when you caught a vole? We still laugh about that. Please send me a sign, handsome. I miss you so much it hurts.

May 7, 2011: We had the first Mother's Day without Great Grandma A and without you, Redman. Knowing both of you are together makes me happy. The weather was fine, so we spent some time on the deck missing our 'matriarch' and our 'lounge lizard'. Your corner is doing well with the fern, sweet woodruff, and creeping jenny. I want to fix the trellis so I can plant clematis to grow behind your stone.

March 25, 2011: Great Grandma A would have been 103 today. I know you had a fabulous party with Grandpa M, Great Aunt D, Great Aunt R, Great Uncle M, and all the bridge babies - especially the ones who graced my life. What a celebration, where everyone is young and healthy! The people were cat lovers. Please let Cookie know I never EVER forgot her and never EVER will . . . you two have very special places in my heart that will never EVER be taken. I'm inconsolable.

March 17, 2011: Red, with that plush ginger coat you always looked smashing on emerald green. Roll in the meadow til you fall asleep among the clover.

February 14, 2011: All my love to you on Valentine's Day, big guy.

December 25, 2010: I was OK til I unpacked your stocking with your name in silver glitter. Then I found the cinnamon ornament I made with Great Grandma A's recipe. It's 'RED' spelled out in individual letter cutouts, hanging from ribbons on a brass ring with a curled up cat. I'm sure you understand why I couldn't bring myself to put these out. Last was the 'R' pin that's an ornament for the kitty's tree. I did hang that - right next to Pixie's 'P'. Of course, the Christmas village will always have a 'catwalk' between the houses that I started so you could circle behind the people's tree. I had special cards made this year with your famous 'Cary Grant' pose on the back of the sofa. All of us were sad, very sad. We have presents for you: Grandma M sends a massage, Uncle B sends finely minced shrimp, Aunt D sends a head scritch, Daddy sends Cosmic Cat treats, and Mommy sends a fresh catnip toy. Your gift to us, every day, was simply your presence. This is unbelievably hard, buddy.

December 3, 2010: Grandma M is 78 today. I ordered an 18-month calendar for her using various photos of you and wrote something for each one. She'll have your company in spirit. She really misses you, Redman.

November 25, 2010: Red, this was the first Thanksgiving without you boy. You loved turkey and gravy. It was very hard preparing for guests without you underfoot. I never minded when you got in the way - you were such a big part of our lives, and it was how you involved yourself in family doings. We know you don't want us to grieve so we tried to have a normal holiday. Will holidays ever be normal now?

November 3, 2010: Well, Redman, this is the 20th anniversary of Grandpa M's passing. I can't believe he's been gone since then. I didn't have him long enough; that gold bracelet you saw me wear every day is in memory of him. You never knew him, but you can find him and introduce yourself. He became a cat lover when we got Muffin. He would have adored you.

September 25, 2010: All Mommy wants for her birthday is to know that you're watching over the furkids who blessed her life and holding a place for me to join you.

August 20, 2010: Great Grandma A died today at 102. I so miss this remarkable woman who supported four daughters and her mother, during the depression, when her husband deserted the family and joined the army to avoid child support. She loved you, Red. You always made her day and certainly brightened her times out of the nursing home. She looked forward to seeing you. I know you two have found each other. Sit on her lap like you sat on mine - on your back, eyes closed in bliss, cradled as a baby would be.

July 24, 2010: Your memorial was today, Red. It took me a while to make a slideshow of all your photos set to music. We visited your grave in the wildflower garden - where I planted ferns, sweet woodruff, and creeping jenny - with a bench so we can sit and talk to you. Then we sobbed through the slideshow. I ordered remembrance gifts for everyone. For Grandma M: a pewter ornament that has a picture of you looking handsome; for Uncle B: a beer mug that has a picture of you enjoying a fall day on the deck; for Aunt D: a mouse pad collage of favorite pix; for Daddy: a coffee mug collage of favorite pix; for me (Mommy), a pewter keychain that has a picture of you on the rocking chair Great Great Grandpa M built. I haven't finished the stone I'm painting to mark your earthly resting place. We went through the motions to honor you though our hearts were like bricks.

June 25, 2010: Happy 19th birthday, Redman. You graced us with your presence for as long as you could. I send you tummy rubs. Gather everyone - Muffin, Jesse, Minx, JJ, Cookie, Panther, Bunny, Misty, Candi, Rocky, Sugar, Petey, Taz, Bud, Oreo - Dewey the Library Cat - Norton the famous traveling Scottish Fold - Polar Bear the Cat who came for Christmas - Amber a Very Personal Cat - all your new friends - for a bash. Share the catnip. Know that we think of you every day and will never forget you.

June 4, 2010: My special solid black cat, Panther, with the white last half inch of tail, went over the Rainbow Bridge in early 1992 after a long illness. I still had the love of my life, Cookie, a gorgeous snow white longhair with black spots, a black plume tail, and eyes the color of green grapes. All my fur babies have been unwanted, and I like to have two, so right before Christmas 1992 I visited the local shelter. A volunteer brought a big teenage marmalade tabby to me; he walked over without hesitation and licked my outstretched hand. I was smitten!

When we got home, he immediately found the cat door that led to the basement and hid for hours. I searched everywhere, calling him. Finally, I went to the kitchen, put some food in a bowl, and sat on the floor to wait. He emerged later that night and ate on my lap.

What to name this new pal, I wondered? Nothing seemed right. I settled on the obvious -- Red -- because of his ginger coat. Variations were The Red Man and simply Redman. It suited him.

Redman was quite the athlete. My husband didn't like cats sleeping with us and installed French doors between the living room and the back of the house to keep them downstairs at night. We were also remodeling and had knocked a hole in the wall on the second floor landing, about the size of a dinner plate. I don't even remember why. One night, Redman appeared in the bedroom. I asked the kids who left the French doors open, and they said they didn't. I picked up the cat, carried him downstairs, and sure enough the French doors were closed. I put him in the back of the house and went upstairs -- only to have him meet me on the second floor! This lovable animal leaped from the first floor through that hole in the wall just to be with us. How could I discourage him? Cats were welcome from then on.

Cookie went over the Rainbow Bridge due to heart failure a year after Redman joined our family. He was the only cat for several years, a constant buddy through my divorce and move to a new home. When no one else was there for me, he was always there in my lap or at my side or licking my hand.

He liked to be on his back, cuddled like a baby, and let me clip his nails as he was so relaxed. When I'd come home, he'd flop on the floor in greeting, paws up, for a tummy rub.

His snooze spot of choice was the window seat in my sewing room, on a purr pad I crocheted for him.

Sister Candi, a beautifully marked Maine Coon, was rescued and restored feline balance. She and Redman played together, fought together, and occasionally napped together. It was a state of uneasy truce. However, feral tendencies unknown at the time of adoption became apparent in her behavior with me. She bit, lunged, and scratched until I started to fear her. I was bound by the shelter agreement to return her if there were any problems and did so, heartbroken, out of necessity.

Sister Pixie soon followed. She is a tiny, delicate strawberry blonde with long, silky hair and a face that would remind you of a Furby. Although Redman was a regal King Cat, Pixie is quite the little Princess and sashays around demanding to be indulged and catered to. They resolved their differences over time and co-existed fairly peacefully. They also colluded when it came to food.

If one or the other hadn't finished all their dry food, I'd put the bowl on the island to prevent snitching. On one particular day, I spied Pixie hop up on the stepstool, stretch her paw to the dish, reach in, and flick pieces of food to the floor. Redman was so fascinated by her daring that he ignored the grand opportunity she created for a second helping. She gobbled all the evidence and left him to ponder if what he witnessed actually happened!

Was it this incident that prompted Red to get into the pantry? He slid the door open and clawed a hole in a bag of Whiskas. I found both of them gorging themselves. I had to jam the doors with a peg to keep them out. I'd often catch him trying in vain to slide the door while Pixie hovered nearby.

Here's a story that ended well. I installed a parquet floor myself in the family room, which involved troweling an adhesive and setting the wood squares. Redman woke from his nap mid-afternoon and of course came to find me. I had my back to the doorway. He stepped down into the room -- and into the glue. I turned, I guess intuitively, and was horrified as he raised each foot and tried to shake off the muck. It must have been an angel who led me to the can and helped me dial the emergency number. A kind woman offered an immediate solution even as the adhesive was drying on his toes. 'Do you have vegetable oil?'. 'Yes'. 'Rub oil over the glue and keep rubbing. This will stop the hardening. Then oil a rag and remove the glue. I'll stay on the line'. Thank God, all traces were gone in seconds. He was greasy but clean. I let the woman know her suggestion worked wonders. She said 'We've never had a call like this before. I gave you advice no one has tried. Now I can note my record for the future that this is an effective remedy. I'm very glad your pet is OK'.

At the beginning of 2009, I took Redman to the emergency center as a result of an unusual symptom. They tested him and kept him overnight. When I picked him up the next day, a technician introduced herself and said she used to work at the vet's office where I'd been going. She'd recognized my boy and told me 'We all love Red'.

He was diagnosed with kidney disease and a thyroid complication. The vet recommended an IV regimen much like dialysis for a human. For eighteen months, my fiancé and I administered 100ml of fluid through a tube with a needle at the end under his skin -- twice a day for 6 months, then once a day for 6 months, then every other day for 6 months. What a good, trusting patient he was! He never held it against us and didn't change his sweet nature despite the discomfort.

I'm so grateful to this compassionate vet who understood our bond and enabled us to extend it in a quality way.

We made this phase of his life as enjoyable for him as possible. Redman kept us company on the deck in the nice weather, lounging or tearing into homegrown catnip. He listened to the birds, observed the squirrels and chipmunks and butterflies, felt the breeze, chased leaves, sniffed flowers, cornered crickets, delighted in sunsets. In the winter, he burrowed in the quilt or reclined in front of the fire. He spent many a nap session on my lap, seeming to want to be even closer to me than he had been.

I knew when he was ready. The day before the vet appointment, Redman and I stayed on the deck til dark. We skipped the IV and fed him forbidden, non-prescription people food. He lay between us on the sofa while we watched a movie. I carried him upstairs to my sewing room for a last night on his purr pad.

My gift to this gentle friend of many years was freedom from sickness. Redman would be a teenager again, able to see and hear and jump a story in the air.

We buried him in a shady corner of the wildflower garden, wrapped in his purr pad, with a fresh catnip stalk to speed the journey.

How I bear this requires belief that St. Francis welcomed Red with a salmon and shrimp birthday cake smothered in cream cheese icing and sprinkled with his favorite herb.

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