Another Cat Tale

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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When my bosses at Keloland decided to allow me the opportunity to write this blog, I hadn’t planned on letting it get as personal as it has occasionally become.
But I’ve found that telling you stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with my years on Keloland news is not only enjoyable for me but, on days like today, pretty good therapy too.
It was just about a year ago that I shared the story of a late night phone call we received from our daughter Christy in Phoenix. She was in tears because her beloved cat Felix had just died in her arms.
It was especially devastating for Christy who was still reeling from a break-up with her long-time boyfriend.
Christy had gotten Felix shortly after she moved out to San Francisco 17 years ago to be close to her big brother James who was already living there.
James took another black cat from the same litter..a female he named Gigi.
Over the weekend, time finally caught up with Gigi too.
Christy & James at my retirement partyJim was already in college when his mom and I got married in 1984.
I’d known him long before that, though. In fact, he used to babysit my daughters when we first moved into the neighborhood. They still remember all the fun things he would come up with to keep them entertained.
Jim has always been a joy to be around..funny, clever, artistic, brilliant (especially with technical things like computers)  and..oh, yeah…gay.
Attitudes may have now changed in this part of the world but in Sioux Falls in the 80’s being homosexual wasn’t something you openly discussed in casual conversation or at family gatherings.
I know James wondered how I… a conservative Norwegian Lutheran now married to his mother..was going to take the news.
The trouble is, I’d already gotten to know and love him like a son. Old homophobic attitudes I might have had just didn’t apply.
But I think James felt he had to move to San Francisco for the same reason Germans settled in Freeman or the Czechs in Tabor; to feel understood, comfortable and accepted.
He’s done well in living in a neat loft across the bay in Oakland.
When Linda and I went to visit last winter, he gave us a tour of the Chevron headquarters where he works and is the computer guru for all the company bigwigs in the executive office building.
His co-workers all rave about James’ wonderful personality and amazing ability to solve difficult problems.
Still, there hasn’t been a significant relationship in his life for a long while and it’s hard not to worry about his spending so much time at home alone..except for his old pal and confidant, Gigi.
His friends and co-workers have been concerned too and recently coaxed him into taking a trip to Africa with them. They also helped convince him to start drawing and painting again.
A couple examples of James’ art..memories of Africa and his great niece, Ella age 2Things have been going along great until last weekend when he called to say that Gigi..who had been at the brink a few times before only to somehow recover..was in trouble.
She wouldn’t eat or drink and could hardly walk across the floor. She just lay there in her basket looking at him as if to say, it’s time to say goodbye.
James made one last trip to the veterinarian on Monday in hopes the inevitable might be avoided for awhile longer..but it was not to be.
As he was gently petting his old friend..who never once judged him or his lifestyle..the vet’s drug did it’s job and she peacefully slipped away.
I may not understand such love for a pet anymore than I understand why some people are gay.
What I do understand, though, is how frustrating it is to be half a continent away and unable to comfort a son who is alone again and whose heart is breaking.

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