April was not a good month

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2003

First was that sudden storm out of the northeast that flipped my Jon boat upside down in the lake, covered it with flotsam and jetsam that hid it from me for five days. You can imagine what that can do to an outboard motor. And you can kiss anything stored on board goodbye, including expensive battery, paddles, and the fish net carried along in case you ever catch anything that warrants its use. My net was a virgin.

I can live with the spring pollen, whirling falling maple seeds, junk from the gum trees,

tulip poplars, and every other kind of tree debris nature drops on shiny metal cars. Even a carport can’t stop the flow of stuff, but retirees like me can outwait the mess and wash the car one time about the middle of May.

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Then a phone call from Florida brought news of the death of a friend we had known since World War II. For 56 years we had shared our trials and tribulations, as well as Sunday afternoon picnics. Our kids knew their kids, our dogs knew their dogs. We were young together, raised kids together, and now we are at the age when life begins to take its toll on those who make it that far. In April my wife and I remembered we had been married 56 years. Even after that many anniversaries you better not forget.

Of course April brought that little envelope from the lady in the office behind the court- house called the Assessor. You open that letter with apprehension, wondering if this is the year you get it in the neck. On the 15th of April, an infamous date, you dealt with Uncle Sam who had sent you a little package the day after New Year. It didn’t at all help your hangover caused by staying up late to see if the world would end at midnight. But you had at least three and-a-half months to make the calculations and raise the tax payment. The only good news in April was that the United States combined military qualified for entry in the Guinness book of records for the shortest war.

Then came very bad news from the veterinarian; Katie was given only days to live. She had entered our lives two years ago, following the death of another family pet, Ed, a 17-pound mouser. Ed had walked in from the wild with an appetite and a need for human contact. He started out as a small kitten you couldn’t get near and ended up in the house with a private toilet and ownership of the refrigerator. As he grew he grew on us and it was a tearful day when we had to assist him out of life. But within two weeks Katie had appeared magically and captured our hearts.

Katie was small, never did get over 5 pounds, but we were given bad news concerning her on the first trip to the vet. She had but one kidney and it was not right. Katie had been spayed and the vet figured someone might have booted her out rather than face the music. We have no idea how long she had faced nature in the wild but she carried a load of ticks, a 3-inch cut on her left hind leg, and looked like she hadn’t had a meal in weeks. It didn’t take her long to move from being shy to taking over Ed’s refrigerator. She was so small you had to watch out you didn’t step on her – a calico cat with an array of colors that seemed to blend in with everything. You looked before you sat and shortly after you landed she was in your lap, did a few turns and fell asleep. You got so you expected it and felt neglected if she didn’t show up.

But April bad news had one more gasp; last week Katie began to fail, the lone kidney disappeared and there was but one thing to do. If some family had actually left that cat to face life on her own, we want them to know she brought great joy to us and was given the best two years a cat could have. She has joined Ed in our pet cemetery with St. Francis of Assisi watching over her. The refrigerator is wondering where everybody went and who is next.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.