Last week’s recap

The big news of the week: Drippy is no longer with us. He was put to sleep Thursday after I hemmed and hawed for days. I’ll spare you the gross details but it was time. He was a mess and showed no signs of improving.

He lived a good life — 20 years! — but it’s weird not having him around. Sure, he was a self-centered grouch, he mauled other animals, he dripped and drooled on anyone in reach. But he’s been on the farm as long as we have. Longer, actually.

I remember when we closed on the farm 9 yrs ago, and in that “oh my god, what have we just done?” mentality, we drove out that night to gaze at our new purchase. We left our former farmhouse, mired among 60’s suburban split-levels, just a block from the Metro and a Chinese restaurant plagued by health code violations. Several exits up the highway and among dwindling traffic, we veered onto a twisting, hilly two-laner past sleepy houses and fields of horses and dairy cows.

Martin: “Wow, it’s so….dark out here. Is it always this dark?”
Me: “Yea, it’s the country. There’s not a 7-11 around the corner.”
Martin: “There’s not even a corner around the corner.”

We didn’t go in the house. We just stood in the moonlight, with the barn looming over us (blissfully unaware of the looming repairs….holes in the barn roof from people shooting pigeons, the rotting fence line we’d replace, the run-in shed that would collapse in a snow storm….).

As we stood there, the gray shadow of Drippy bumped up against me. At that time, I knew him only as “barn cat 1” on the list of conveyances with the property, in addition to “barn cat 2” and “utility cart” tipped up against the silo.

That night, if Drippy could have spoken, this is what he would have said: “Look you two, I don’t give a fig what you think you just signed, I’m the law of this land. Don’t think for a second that you own this place.”

Drippy ruled with an iron claw. Scratch first, ask questions later. Though he could be civil when he wanted food or attention and certainly softened in his waning years.

Somewhere in our photo archives — in the days before digital — is a picture of Martin, reclining in a chair on our deck, the sun’s setting, and he’s clutching a cocktail (a screwdriver, I recall, in a pint glass filled to the brim). Martin should have been happy but the look on his face is utter disdain. Because Drippy is camped on his stomach like hen sitting on an egg. He’s disinterested and oblivious to the long string of saliva stretching from his fang and pooling on Martin’s shirt.

That was part of the problem. Drippy was not an absentee dictator. When were out and about, he was there. Amidst the zillions of photos we’ve taken of the kids, he’s ever present. And usually not in a ‘Where’s Waldo’ kind of way. He marches right into the frame.

So it’s odd, no longer greeted by his yowl in the mudroom or hearing his pleas to come in. No longer tripping over him in the barn. He was a lousy, drooling, good for nothing, freeloading cat. Who will be missed.