Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Friday, December 28, 2007

Traveling with cats, part 2

I spent a large part of this day remembering sadly how recently I had written about how wonderfully easy it was to travel with cats. I also spent almost all of this day in tears, big sobbing tears that I couldn’t stop. If something dies, it’s over, you cry, but you can begin the healing process as soon as it’s done. But something lost is so different. When do you give up? When do you say it’s time to go? How do you know that maybe the sadness will all end any moment and it will all just become a story? And of course, the guilt is huge. How could I have done this? How come, when I have been so incredibly careful for a month could I have let him slip past me? Over and over the questions, walking the park, calling, calling, crying, walking some more.

It started in the morning, while cooking breakfast. The new house has nooks and crannies, as well as a leather hide abed. Anyone with cats knows how much they love to crawl up into those things, and what a pain it can be. We ate breakfast, cleaned up the house for moving again, checked all the closets, and thought of course Teddy would show up in the hide abed. So we moved everything around, opened the thing up, and omigod, no Teddy. It was a shock, because the MoHo felt incredibly silent and Jeremy just looked at us reproachfully. We tore the place apart, again and again, thinking there must be something we missed, there is just no way he could have got past me when I let Abby out. Yet, there was no cat. There really was no Teddy cat in the MoHo. He was gone.

So the walking and the calling began. The worst part was that the RV Park was full and the management insisted that we had to move from our space by noon when the next people were coming in. I cried to no avail, imaging Teddy finally returning to find us gone. I walked everywhere, to the ponds on the south side of the park, to the old wood piles on the west. Everywhere. I met Rene Rios, the maintenance man, with dark soft eyes and a mustache and a gentle accent. He commiserated with me, another cat person, and said he would get his girlfriend to help as well. More walking, more calling. I just knew he had to be hunkered down somewhere waiting for the dark, but then what if what if??? And I had to move out!!!

Finally I walked to some empty fields behind the rv park and there was a funky gas station and an old junk yard full of old trucks and such. The truck owner offered to help, and then the service station manager said that we could park the RV and dry camp in the station for the night so that we could keep looking for him. Big sigh of relief finally on that one and still no cat.

A bit later, as Mo and I were walking and calling, we came upon a young woman also calling for Teddy. She asked, “Are you Teddy’s owner? “ and when we said yes, she told us she was Rene’s girlfriend, Sandra, and she was walking the fields looking for Teddy. Amazing. We could see Rene in his little golf cart going around the park looking looking and calling. But Ted was gone.

I thought suddenly of his leather collar and bell, not a cat safe collar because he is never outside, and then even worse, of his bright orange and blue toenails, covered with the fancy caps that Mo and I just finished gluing on last night so he wouldn’t damage the new leather sofa. He wouldn’t be able to hunt or climb or fend for himself. The only good thing at all is that I was discovering that there were a lot of cat lovers around there and that people would at least know that he wasn’t a stray.

More calling, more crying. The day was passing and by late afternoon we decided to unhook the baby car and go up to town to see Fredericksburg, the reason we were there in the first place. I laughed sadly and told Mo, at least she didn’t have to worry about me getting all excitable and crazy in all the shops. We walked up the streets and looked in a few places and finally found a truly wonderful little restaurant that had been decorated in amazing warm colors and had a fabulous meal of comfort food. I was able to stop crying a bit and actually appreciate the meal, thinking, it can’t fix it, but it can make things feel a bit better anyway.

After dinner we headed back to the MoHo, and on the way I had a thought. The previous night, a wooden panel in an area above the bed had come loose. Mo had pushed it back up, and I asked her what was behind it. She said, nothing, she thought it was flat. When I got back, I said let’s check that out again. Sure enough, there was open space behind the panel and in great excitement, I said; let’s check the back storage area!!! We were thrilled and opened it up, but sadly there was nothing, no cat, and no opening to the guts of the MoHo either.

About that time Rene drove up to see how things were doing. I was looking at the back of the MoHo carefully when I realized that there was empty space on either side of the rig that was tall and narrow and just perhaps accessible behind the ceiling panel that had fallen. I asked Rene to come and take a look and we were all getting more and more excited as we realized that teddy may very well be caught in the interior guts of the rig somewhere.

Now I have to say, that all day long I had been praying to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, introduced to me so long ago by Eva. I don’t remember the exact prayer, but when you say it, you promise to give to the poor. I was promised, and I was promising not my usual 10 or 20 dollars, but 50 dollars and promised to someone I didn’t know at all!

The excitement was mounting as we circled the rig, trying to figure out a way to get to those hidden parts, when suddenly, there it was, Teddy’s unmistakable voice, coming from that inaccessible dark part of the new rig. I was so happy I thought I would burst. Rene said, “Let’s undo the tail lights”. We did that, and teddy crawled out of reach and out of sight into a completely inaccessible area, but when Rene reached up in there, he could feel him but he was just a few inches too far. We went back inside, and quick as a wink Rene grinned and said, I’m going in. He knocked out the safety exit window so he would have more room and climbed right up into the hole and bent his body around till he could see teddy. Ted, of course,, was having none of it and kept his distance. We tried using the vacuum hose, and that didn’t work, and finally we ran the broom up one taillight and Rene used that to push teddy down the other side and out the other taillight. There he was, yowling and howling one big bundle of teddy fur. Unbelievable, just completely unbelievable.

I told Rene the St Anthony story and asked if I could please give it to him and he didn’t hesitate when he smiled that cute grin and said sure, thanks. By then the owner of the park showed up, all pink and blond and shiny in her new white truck telling us that there was a cancellation and that we could come back to the park. But we said, thanks, no thanks, and we will just hang out here and boondock for free. I wasn't about to give her my 30 bucks after all of that.

I went into the house then, hugging teddy while Mo and Rene put the MoHo back together. I hugged him tight till he yowled in protest, rubbed my nose in his fur and said thank you thank you thank you.

So what could have been a really sad end to a great trip turned into a truly great cat story!