Thursday, May 21, 2009

Carlton, Lord Spoilworthy - letter from beyond

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Carlton, Lord Spoilworthy and I am speaking to you from beyond that mortal coil. I departed your veil of tears---and joy---at home on January 14, 2009, at the age of 17, with my staff Mr. and Mrs. Cozzo (or Joe and Jane, as they insisted I so casually address them) at my side. Also present were my attending physician and her nurse, who facilitated my physical demise because I was so weak from systemic illnesses (renal disease and small-cell lymphoma, amongst others). Until the end, I remained a handsome fellow indeed. I must confess that everyone I encountered during my entire life made this observation. (I enclose a portraiture of myself, to ensure that I not be accused of undue vanity.)

My staff continue to pray for the immortality of my soul, and I wish to convey to them that their prayers most certainly should be answered. I shall be eternally grateful to them for saving me from a most probable premature death. You see, I had been in the “care” of a man (a next-door neighbour of the Cozzos) whose concern and regard for me were negligible at best. Because of my benign temperament, I fatalistically accepted his treatment of me, including his locking me out of the house because the blood from the wounds of an attack were getting on his carpet.

It was at this juncture (December of 2001) that the Cozzos intervened and took me to hospital. My erstwhile “caregiver” retrieved me, but in January of 2002, I finally made the decision to leave this insensitive man and give myself over to the care of my staff, as I knew they loved me and would most certainly provide better care and support.

The initial adjustment of living with them was, I fear to relate, somewhat stressful, but through no fault of theirs. Their predecessor’s wife had had my front claws removed years prior because I was sharpening them on her chintz sofa. To add insult to injury (pun intended), this procedure was performed before I could completely do in that monstrosity. That couple continued to let me roam free, defenceless, in a neighborhood populated by coyotes. Of course, I did not realise the imminent danger when I was on my roamabouts, and quite naively enjoyed them.

Thus the difficulty adjusting to “house arrest.” During the approximately six weeks accustomising myself to this limitation, I used every verbal tactic available to me to convince my staff that I was frustrated by the change in life style.

I attempted to convey this sentiment on countless occasions, primarily through my extremely wide voice range, which spanned octaves. I used a deep baritone for a repeated “raaaaa---unh,” several times a day. On other occasions, when Jane was not present, I used my most desperate-sounding baby cry to work on Joe, but that proved to be of no avail.

Over the years, when I observed feline male trespassers on my property, I would let out the most blood-curdling, gutterally extended cry that it caused great alarm to anyone within earshot.

After I realised that my indoor life had its own rewards, which more than compensated for the absence of outdoor walkabouts, I used a very high soprano to convey contentment, almost a silent “meah.”

I soon realised my staff were unconditionally devoted to me, and did their very best to satisfy all my desires, first and foremost, constant attention. Fancy Feast food, in all the flavours I favoured, in addition to crunchies, were provided at all hours of the day and night. I even was provided with a water fountain, and later two: upstairs and downstairs. In my final years, upon awakening every morning, I only had to gaze expectantly at one of my staff and I immediately was brought breakfast in bed.

Play sessions, including rather bizarre ones, were always granted if I indicated an interest. My most favourite, as I grew older and tired of mousy-mousy and kill the ball, was what my staff called tom-toming: having my bum “spanked.” For quite a while, they remained clueless regarding the sexual satisfaction this provided. Finally, it dawned on them, thank God. I hasten to add that I nevertheless had been castrated in my childhood. Perhaps that accounted for my ability to sing counter-tenor in addition to baritone, but I digress.

My staff also allowed me to occupy, my places on the bed, in addition to providing me a down cushion on which I could make a little “nest,” and even a heated cushion on a rocking chair, which helped my arthritis.

I also greatly enjoyed the cushions in front of the fireplace where they made a fire every evening in the cooler months. I became quite adept at conveying to them when I wanted a fire---even during the daytime, especially on cold days. And all year round, even in the winter months, windows and doors were opened for me, day and night, so I could enjoy through the screens the fresh air and all the exotic scents known only to my kind.

My staff even provided me with my own home entertainment center: a bird feeder right in front of my favourite window, where I could see those tantalising creatures just inches away. They knew I was there, and yet continued to eat. I believe they actually knew that in spite of the danger I posed, I could not harm them, even though I occasionally would instinctively bat at them. Cheeky bastards!

My staff also knew when I wanted to go to the toilet. I used my voice range and distinct language to convey this need. I wanted one of them, (and preferably both of them) to accompany me to what they called “the urination ceremony.” You see, I was extremely fastidious and having them there to dispose of the waste kept my toilet clean, especially as I had a tendency to defecate and urinate in succession. Of course, when they happened to not be at home, I had to make do without their service, which was a mild source of vexation.

During the course of the years my staff served me they never left me alone for more than hours. They even took separate vacations because they could not bear the idea of my being incarcerated in a cage at a boarding facility. Even during these times, I missed the one who was not present, but at least one of them was with me. The one who was away always rang up every day to be sure I was in fine form. Needless to say, this was a source of great comfort and assurance.

Most unfortunately, in 2005 I was diagnosed with chronic renal failure, a progressive disease very common to my kind. My staff were devastated by this diagnosis and spared no expense to obtain the best medical care possible, including specialists, an acupuncturist, the requisite pharmaceuticals, and regular treatments (sub-cutaneous fluids), subsequently administered at home by a technician.

So committed were they to extending my life, that they consulted a nephrologist at one of the world’s top renal transplant facilities. In the course of tests to determine my suitability for this procedure, they discovered that I had incipient small-cell lymphoma, for which I was initially treated at that facility.

However, this diagnosis ultimately led to on-going treatment at a renowned oncology clinic. Even though the trips to the clinic were stressful, I stoically accepted them, as I knew that my staff were trying to do the best they could for me and would never knowingly do me harm.

As often occurs, the chemotherapy diminished my appetite and I started to lose weight. My staff, ever concerned for my well-being, then sought a third opinion, which led to a greatly reduced oral regimen, albeit with stressful, although---thankfully--- infrequent, trips from Los Angeles to San Diego, where the attending oncologist and gastro-enterologist practiced. My philosophical stoicism served me well during these times. Positive developments were that my renal disease seemed to be more or less stabilised by on-going treatments, and the small-cell lymphoma stayed in remission.

Until shortly before my demise, the quality of my life was as good as possible by human standards. I had the unmitigated devotion of my staff who always did what they thought best for me. Even when I gradually stopped eating, and had to endure my staff’s syringe feeding me (in my primary physician’s hope that it would effect weight gain and stimulate my appetite) I still found pleasure in certain habits and rituals, resulting in my purring until just a few days before the end.

I am greatly moved by, and appreciative of, my staff’s unmitigated gratitude for having had the privilege of living with me and so intimately knowing me. I also am aware of how much they are devastated by my physical demise, of how much they love me, of how much they miss my presence, and of how much an integral part of their lives I always will be.

I thank you for taking the time to read this missive, and I remain

Yours faithfully,

Lord Spoilworthy

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