Sunday, September 27, 2020

Mosaic Monday #98: The Maggie Tribute

Scene: Rescue Village, Chesterland, Ohio

Time: 2005

Setting: A family of four considers adopting kittens, but is overwhelmed with pity for a pair of cats that have been languishing at the shelter for over 6 months.  They wait in a small room for the cats to be brought in.

MOTHER: Won't it be nice to give these poor cats a home?

DAUGHTER: That gray cat is so pretty.

SON: Can we go look at the tarantulas?

FATHER: I just want a cat that will sit on my lap.

Members of staff cradled the cats as they entered the space, placing them both on the floor.  The gray cat (Josie) was skittish, even when the young girl sat on the floor.  The black and white cat?  Maggie promptly jumped on Father's lap and began to purr.  Within a half hour, the family was on the way home with two new members.  Little did they know the joy, laughter and companionship that lay ahead for the next 15 years, as Maggie purred and kneaded her way into all of their hearts.  This is her story, which ended this week on September 21.

Maggie quickly established herself as the dominant cat, not just with Josie, but with everyone in the house.  No lap was immune from her attentions.  Over time, her reputation as a lap cat became legendary among family and friends who were frequent visitors.  "If you don't want her to sit on you, don't sit down!"  became our constant refrain.  #1 Daughter captured Maggie's character well in her memorial FaceBook post:

Maggie was our lap cat, our climb-up-and-snuggle cat.  We always used to say "I have a cat", meaning someone needed to get something for us because we didn't want to move the cat off our lap.

One of my earliest memories of Maggie was her attempt at licking my long hair.  I think she thought I was a fellow cat that needed grooming?

Maggie loved soft blankets and couches and sun spots.  She was the older of our two cats and definitely thought she was queen bee (she was).  

Give our love to Josie.  I miss you already, Maggie Cat.  Hope there are plenty of comfy places to nap in heaven.

In the oddest of coincidences, Maggie died a year and one day after Josie (see Josie's post here).  Despite being two years older than Josie, Maggie persisted through weight loss and arthritic hips.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

In the early years, Maggie was, shall we say, well-proportioned.  Spousal Unit gave her the nickname "Bagpuss", a polite reference to her rotund form.  Looking back at the photos, it is shocking to see the stark difference in her size and the luxuriousness of her fur.  At the time we adopted her, she was 4 years old.

She was not an active, playful cat, and eventually the vet advised a weight-loss plan.  I remember moving the food dish and litter box from the main level laundry room to the basement; in a matter of months, navigating the stairs brought her to a more desirable weight.   Life was busy back then; I travelled often for work and Spousal Unit had his hands full with managing the house and two kids in school.  We also did not have cameras in our phones, always at our fingertips!  Most of the photos are from Christmas, when we could pause for breath.  For 2013 and 2014, I could not find any pictures of our dear cat.

For most of her time with us, Maggie definitely preferred the lap of Spousal Unit.  She would sit on anyone, but if his lap was free, off she went.  So, this is a rare picture with her on my lap in 2015.  Rare because I am not in motion, and rarer still that she is with me.  I love this picture.

In 2016, life began to change dramatically for the family.  #1 Daughter was already i
n college, and #1 Son made us empty nesters that fall.  We downsized and moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Troy, Ohio, an interim step before my planned retirement in 2017.  Neither of the cats liked to be in the car, least of all Maggie.  She might have run off if she had known that the four-hour drive was a drop in the bucket compared to the journey to come.  In the meantime, we celebrated one Christmas in Troy; this is the only photo I have of Maggie from that time frame.

On April 27, 2017, we began our epic journey from Ohio to Montana.  Spousal Unit had the parakeet in his car, and Maggie and Josie accompanied me in the 4Runner.  I can't tell you how many meows I heard over those nine days; all of us were relieved to get to the hotel each night.  

Without any furniture, we made do with camp chairs our first night in Whitefish, Montana.  It didn't matter to Maggie; she was going to seek comfort in that lap no matter what! We soon settled into new routines; #1 Son stayed with us that summer, and several family members came to visit the townhouse and see our log home under construction.  Maggie even played with some yarn I was using to make a prayer shawl.    Both of our children came for Christmas and we made sure to get a picture with all four 'kids'.  

The calendar spun to 2018, which proved to be a hectic year.  The log house was finished and we moved in on April 14.  We hosted my in-laws in the new house, and also traveled to the UK for three weeks.  Maggie took readily to her surroundings; sleeping in the sun spots alternated with sleeping on the air vents.  We could imagine that the warmth helped soothe her increasingly old bones; she turned 17 that year.  (As you can see in the mosaic below, Maggie would often extend one paw and put it possessively on one part of your body.  Little did she know she owned every part of us.  It was also after our arrival in Montana that Maggie and Josie started to share Spousal Unit's lap.)

With the arrival of 2019, Josie began to have health issues, and we started to keep a closer eye on both of the cats.  Maggie continued to monopolize the sun puddles and the air vents, and she was losing weight, but she kept on ticking.  With the loss of Josie in September that year, we wondered about the impact on Maggie.  After all, they had been together for at least 15 years.  Maggie seemed to pick up Josie's role as the vocal one.  Frequently, she would sit outside our bedroom door and meow, especially if she had decided we were late for breakfast.  It also seemed, after Josie, that Maggie became firmly attached to one spot on the left end of the couch.  Everyone knew that was Maggie's "spot".
Another endearing aspect of Maggie's character related to food.  It always seemed that she was afraid to eat unless we were in the vicinity.  Without fail, when we would return home from a morning in town or another excursion, she would greet us at the door and then immediately start eating.  Even now, five days after her passing, I am still looking for her when I come through that door!
Over the years, we have been very fortunate to have good friends and neighbors to look after the cats when we were traveling or camping or otherwise engaged.  You know who you are!  A special shout out to my Dear Neighbor Friend, who would take the time to sit with Maggie and give her that one-on-one attention that she craved so much.  This was especially important to me after we lost Josie.  Thank you, DNF.  I know you had a special place in her heart! 
And so we entered 2020.  Will any of us forget this year?  Maybe some of us would like to!!!  As one month passed to the next, Maggie got creakier and skinnier.  In parallel, she grew seemingly more desperate for attention.  Even in the middle of the day, she would circle my chair at the dining room table, rubbing my legs and meowing.  I would take pity on her and lift her up.

Maggie was not allowed in areas with carpet, so our master bedroom was off limits.  But at times my heart was breaking with her meowing, and we would lift her up onto the bed for an afternoon nap.  I am not sure when it happened, but at some point Maggie transitioned to a preference for my lap over that of Spousal Unit.  Maybe because I always sat in her "spot"?  I will never know, but I am grateful that we had the special time together.  I am sure that some of her fur is woven into the cross-stitch that I have been working the last few months!  
It is also a blessing that the kids had a chance to say goodbye, in their own ways.  # 1 Daughter and the Boyfriend were here in August, and although we had no idea Maggie would pass so soon after their visit, a blind man could have told you that old age was taking its toll.
The weekend before Maggie died, she stopped eating.  She would hover over the food dish, and meow, but she didn't take a bite.  I imagined that she felt nauseous.  We got her into an emergency appointment on Monday afternoon, and #1 Son sat with her on his lap that morning; we all anticipated that we would have to make the tough decision.  As it turned out, the vet said Maggie was very constipated.  After some treatment, the vet said that we should take her home and let the treatment work its way overnight.  Relieved, I went home with a lighter heart.  We made Maggie comfortable and then went on a previously arranged kayaking/fishing trip for a few hours.

Upon our return, imagine our dismay to find Maggie hiding in the one of the benches with her litter box.  This was her go-to location when scared by something, such as thunder.   At first, I left her there, but after a while, I grew concerned.  When I picked her up, she was so limp.  It was the worst feeling in the world.  For the next couple of hours, Spousal Unit and I took turns cradling her.  Occasionally she would try to lift her head, and through a cascade of tears, we told her it was OK to let go.  #1 Son was with us when, resting on the chest of Spousal Unit, she finally gave a little sigh, and was gone.  

Fifteen years.  Four homes.  Two high school and two college graduations.  She was there through it all, and gave us untold moments of joy and laughter and companionship.  That is what we will remember.  At the end, she may have been deathly skinny, and her fur might have lost the luster of the early years, but she will always be a beauty in our hearts.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
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  1. Oh, what a sad yet beautiful memorial. Our two cats, Simba and Nala (Sissy) are brother and sister. Could not separate them so brought them both home. They are as different as night and day, yet both brighten my day! My sincerest sympathy! It's so hard to lose a pet friend.

  2. How sad, Maggie was a wonderful cat, to read in this Post, in each capture. A lovely, sweet cat... Angie, I understand very well. Lost our darling in 2017.

    Happy MosaicMonday... have a good week.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet baby. I'm so sorry for your loss Angie. My deepest sympathy.

  4. a beautiful story with a sad farewell - Maggie was a gift who gave you love for years

  5. A deeply touching life story for your cat!
    Rest her in peace. Beautiful scenes of it in all the many years full of love for you and for her. That has been a great love for cats.
    Have a good week, Elke

  6. Our last cat Sticktail had a similar life. Her was with us for 23 years after coming through our kitty door to adopt us. What wonderful lives Josie and Maggie had with you. I'm sure Maggie forgave you for all those long car rides to move. I could hear her loud meows in my head from that long trip to Montana. When Sticktail came north under our airplane seat from Los Angeles to Bellingham you could hear him over the jet engines on tkeoff. Cats are such wonderful companions. I know how much you are missing your two sweet cats. - Margy

  7. Oh Angie, my heart is broken for you. We lost our Lily in May and after almost 13 years of devoted love, we never imagined it would be so hard. Sugar, her baby, has taken up a lot of her activities like sitting in hubby lap, on the end of the couch and waking us in the morning. Interesting how that happens. I still look for her at times and it's been 5 months.
    Bless you all and may you remember the love, purrs and family moments. May they bring you comfort as she did.
    LOTS of hugs my friend.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  8. Maggie sounds like a wonderful companion. What a lucky cat to have been so loved over the years. I am very sorry for your loss.

  9. Such a beautiful and loving tribute to your precious Maggie, we all felt as if we knew her purrsonally. We've been there way too many times so we know there isn't the right words, we'll just send purrs, hugs and all our love your way. Thank you for giving dear Maggie the very special life she deserved.

  10. Such a moving and beautiful tribute to your cats, they sure leave a huge hole in your hearts. Wonderful to see your photos of the cats. Sending you hugs.

  11. You made a good choice that first day. There was/ still is much love between all of you. And lots of memories.
    Take care.

  12. A beautiful tribute, hugs of comfort your way ❤

  13. What a beautiful story about the life and passing of sweet Maggie. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  14. I'm so sorry, Angie! I know the wonderful sweet love our pets give us and how hard it is to lose them. Our fifteen year old cat passed away a few short months after we moved to Colorado and he has been so missed. I'm sure Maggie and Josie are playing as young as kittens somewhere over the Rainbow Bridge. ((hugs)) to you all!

  15. Hello Angie,
    What a wonderful story and tribute to Maggie. It is so hard to let go of a family pet, they are family members. You have many photos and happy memories, I hope they bring you comfort. I am so sorry for your loss. {{HUGS}}

  16. Sad to hear of your loss. Beautiful memories will soothe the heart and soul
    Happy Mosaic Monday


  17. A beautiful tribute to post to your fabulous pet, your love for her poured out of every sentence and we can tell from the photos how loved she was by you all, and vice versa.
    Take care, be gentle with yourselves, sending hugs.

  18. Oh it's so hard to lose a beloved pet. She was a beauty and gave you so much love over the years. I'm sorry for your loss. It has indeed been a rough summer for all of us. Hugs, Diane

  19. A beautiful post, Angie, and a fitting tribute to the member of the family that was lost. Losing a beloved pet is so sad and it's good to know that you were able to rescue that cat and bring it into your home where it enjoyed a happy life and gave you much delight.
    (Your husband naps a lot! LOL)

  20. What a delight she was. So very sorry to hear about your loss. It is always hard when a pet leaves us ...

  21. What a loving tribute. Cats are the heart of our home too. RIP Maggie.

  22. What beautiful memories you have of lovely Maggie and I am glad you could hold her at the end. ((sending you a big hug))

  23. Oh Angie, this is such a beautiful tribute. I am happy Maggie could be at home with you on the day.

  24. Oh dear Angie, so sorry for you and your family in the loss of your dear family pet, Maggie. What a very sweet tribute to her. Such a great rescue your family made and what joy was brought into your homes because of your choice to adopt these cats. Hugs...

  25. Sweet Maggie and so much love. I am really very sorry, Angie! Sending you warm hugs.


  26. What a beautiful tribute to your cats.
    They give us so much. These are wonderful memories, and amazing photos. I am so sorry for your loss.

  27. Oh my friend, what a wonderful story. I feel for you so much. As a fellow cat lover I know just how you feel. It's so hard when they go. Such wonderful photos. They were beautiful. Take care, thinking of you. 💕 Kit

  28. A lovely post. I am sorry for your loss.

  29. What a lovely and affectionate, Maggie kitty.
    I am so sorry for your loss, Angie.

  30. Isn't she beautiful, Maggie is excellent, love her.

  31. Maggie ~ what a treasure and what a beautiful tribute to her ~ so loving as was she ~ and your family ~ what love you gave Maggie ~ so sad and hard to lose our dear fur persons ~ thank you for sharing the beautiful photos of Maggie ~ and hope she and Josie are luxuriating together in 'kitty heaven' ~ Xox

    Fun and creative needlework ~ ^_^

    Live each moment with love,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  32. I think you would like Skiathos Angie. There are many many cats here. Unfortunately most of them are feral and once the tourists have left many of the cats will die starvation. But it's impossible to explain this to the tourists who think they do the cats a favour by feeding th titbits.

  33. RIP Maggie. A great tribute. I love dogs but am a cat person. She was a well loved cat.

  34. A great tribute to Maggie. She had a wonderful life with a wonderful family. It always hurts when our little four-legged friends depart but their memories live on in photos and in our hearts. Beautiful post, Angie. Have a great weekend!

  35. Oh Angie.
    This was such a beautiful post and such a loving and lovely tribute.

    All the best Jan

  36. I have now read both blog articles about your cats, beautiful descriptions from two beloved family members - obituaries full of love. My heart sinks a little to think that we had to let go of our sweet cat Maxwell in August 2021. And our blind cat Nina is 19 years old on May 5th and the vet recently said that the lump on her side is probably cancer... But she still seems to be hanging on to life, visits our neighbors (= her friends), comes to bed with us, loves to cuddle (mostly)... and she has also become more and more of a "singer" in the last year...
    Hugs, Traude


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