By Lisa Huddleston
Sweet old Pippin, the cat I picked up in the Cracker Barrel parking lot as a kitten over 13 years ago, is dying. At least, I assume that is what’s happening. He has barely eaten more than a bite or two a day for about a week. He is drinking water, using the litter box, and still meowing like the bossy cat he has always been—but not very often and not quite as bossily. I have offered him a smorgasbord of treats from which to choose, and he has eaten some vanilla Greek yogurt, some cat food “gravy,” and a few bites of tuna, but not enough to really keep him going. I am sad.
I think of how Dusty declined when he reached the end. Weight dropped off and then his organs began to shut down. I took him to the vet, and he ended up dying in an animal hospital about a week later. I hated not being able to explain things to him, and I don’t want it to be like that for Pippin. So, for now anyway, I think Pippin will be given the privilege of dying at home—or at least living here in his comfortable surroundings for as long as he possibly can. He looks content right this minute sitting with me on the back porch listening to the birds sing and the wind blow through the chimes.
We stopped by Chuck’s folks’ place the other evening so that he could plant some sweet potatoes in the newly ordained “family garden.” His mom came out first, and they dug into garden talk about seeds and rows and mounds and dirt. I wandered around to look at the back of the old barn where the wood bows out and the indoor and outdoor meet. She asked me if I liked to garden, and I said I do not, but I was glad for those who do. And we smiled at one another.
New plantings were being watered when Mom brought Dad out to see us. He asked Chuck, “Is this your car?”
“Yes, Dad, it is.”
“Are you going for a walk?”
“No, Dad. We came to plant the garden.”
“Is this your car?”
And the gardeners wandered off down the dampened rows.
“Is this your car?”
I smiled and said it was, and he asked what I was doing there.
“Going home in a minute,” I said.
“Then go. Get in the car or he’ll leave you.”
I smiled again, watching the gardeners and waiting for Chuck to finish up.
“What are you doing? Is this your car?”
“I’m still waiting to go home.”
“There are lots of ways to go home, you know. You can go in a car, or you can walk. You can even go in a casket. You know that?”
“Yes, you’re right,” I said. “There are lots of ways to go home.”
So I climbed into the car and waited for Chuck to take me home. And home is really where we want to be when all is said and done. Home sweet home.