When my Mom passed away in her sleep last year, while staying with me, I had an unending stream of policemen, detectives, firemen and EMS workers coming into the apartment. (Apparently, this is not unusual when someone dies in a private home.) Petey has always assumed that anyone coming into the apartment is there to see him, so he greeted each with a waggy tail and a tennis ball offering in his mouth. He'd drop the ball by their feet, insisting that they play with him. So here are these serious men, bending to toss a ball, while asking me questions about my mother's death.
(Tosses ball) "Sorry about your loss, Ma'am." (toss the ball) "Umm, was your mother on any medications?" (toss the ball) "When was the last time she saw her doctor?" (toss the ball) "Wow, he's really good at catching the ball, isn't he?"
While Mica remained glued to my side all day, purring softly, Petey literally was having a ball and enjoying all the attention. I thought he might react when the coroners took Mom's body away—after all, he was very fond of his indulgent Granny—but instead, he just dropped the ball in front of them and wriggled away, waiting for the next game to begin.
Several days later, we arrived on Hilton Head for Mom's memorial. As we entered her house, Petey raced from room to room, looking for her. After exploring every room and closet, he came back to the family room, looked me in the eye and gave out a huge sigh, and quietly lay down.
A few days after we'd buried Mom, a huge Spring thunderstorm rolled in off the ocean late one afternoon. These are pretty much daily occurrences as the ocean warms up—loud house-shaking thunder and curtains of rain. In his younger days, Petey never seemed to mind storms or fireworks, but for the past few years, he needs to be with his Mom, sitting very closely to me for the duration of the storm.
On this particular evening, I was invited to dinner with some friends and, while the storm was definitely abating, it was still thundering when I reluctantly left to go meet them. When I returned a few hours later, I was surprised not to find Petey in the family room, where he'd usually snooze in a chair or on the couch. I called him and no response. I walked through the house looking for him and finally found him — curled up and sound asleep in the deep recesses of my Mom's walk-in closet, the scent of her perfume still wafting off her clothes hanging around him.
Clearly, he had sought her out for whatever comfort she could still provide.
He hasn't gone in there since.
As a puppy, Petey had both Mica and Maui as cat-siblings. Maui was a sweet girl, a shelter rescue, and she and Mica were never particularly close. She developed a cancerous tumor and at 15 years of age, I wasn't going to subject her to surgery so the decision was made to put her to sleep.
While Mica seems very healthy right now, I am aware that at 20 years and 3 months, he is living on borrowed time. He and Petey have grown much closer—certainly closer than he ever was with either of my previous cats, Moki or Maui. I often find them curled near or next to each other or giving each other a gentle sniff.
With our new lifestyle, splitting our time between NYC and Hilton Head, Petey and Mica are apart for weeks at a time. My goal is to keep Mica's life as stress-free as possible, so plane trips are out of the question. Instead, I've been fortunate to have cat-loving friends come stay at the apartment in New York with him. (He keeps interrupting me for chin-scratches as I type this.)
I have no idea how Petey will respond to be an "only child" some day in the not-so-distant future. But I have a feeling, there will be some ball-throwing involved...