Teddi was happy exactly one day. This was it.
The truth is that no one is overlooked in The Good Land. Everyone is important and no one gets lost in the shuffle. Teddi may have hated me most of her days here but we loved her. She was our hard luck cat. She came to us half starved with broken teeth on a rainy winter night. You can read more about her story here.
She loved to sleep in a full tuck position.
The vet thought that Teddi was about eight when she first came to us, but we pegged her more at 8 to 10 years old. We think she was about 17 when she died. She had a good long run and got every last dime out of her 9 lives. We like to think that she was happy here but she was our grumpiest cat so it was kind of hard to tell. We always said that she must have been the cutest kitten... the older she got the smaller and more kitten like she looked. She had very expressive eyes.
We couldn't believe that someone would actually dump an older, declawed cat out in December in Ohio. So we made up a story that was easier for us to fathom. We figured that Teddi was owned by a single, older man who we know loved her because he only ever fed her fried chicken and ice cream. She always liked my husband - which was why we know she was owned by a man.
But then this imagined older man must have died and somehow Teddi got out or something. But she made her way to us and saw the visible-only-to-cats-with-expensive-vet-problems sign above our house that says, "Come on in, wanderer, you have a home here."
From time to time she would do very funny things... like to try to figure out who that other cat was.
More realistically, if her owner died I'm sure that the family dumped her or left her when they moved away. The vet thought she had been outside for at least three weeks when we found her. It's a miracle she survived that long. But she did and she begrudgingly became part of the Insane Cat Posse.
A couple years ago she figured out that, not only did I have body heat and was a warm place to sit, but that I was actually trying to understand her needs and meet them. We did what we could to make an angry, older cat happy. She started to fail a couple years ago but the vet and I propped her up as best we could. We were pretty much at the palliative care stage when we tried another medication to ease her pains.
Several weeks later at a follow up appointment the vet looked at me in complete surprise and declared that Teddi's heart murmur - that I could pretty much across the room - had all but disappeared. "What did you do?" He asked.
I shrugged and said, "I loved her."
Never underestimate the healing power of love. Since I was sure that Teddi was on the way out I determined to double down my efforts and do everything I could to make her happy. Despite my efforts Teddi did not love me back at all - it wasn't until these last several months or, at most, for the last year, that she could even tolerate me.
But she learned that if she meowed at me I would figure out what she needed and give it to her. We believe she was one of the good works that we were appointed to do. She was a reminder to never grow tired of doing good - even if you don't get anything out of it. I was a warm place for her to lay down on and that was about it.
Mostly she just tolerated me. But that was OK.
Did I get loving looks and joyful snuggles? Nope. The best I could hope for was that Teddi wouldn't eat the butter off the counter. But love keeps no record of wrongs. So we went about our business making sure she had everything she needed. Turns out it worked, she was in relatively good health for these last two years.
The last couple of months Teddi needed a lot of care. She had gotten very frail and the other cats were picking on her - she was an easy target. So we shuffled the cats around, gave her a quiet place to sleep, and made sure she could always get to the food and water without anyone bothering her.
The Grand Dowager Teddi Gumpkins. What a gal.
In the end she cried for me one last time and she knew I heard her voice. I put her on her favorite bed and wrapped her in soft covers. I washed her face and told her that we loved her. She had the most gentle passing.
I may not have done a lot of things right in this life but the one thing I can point to was that we gave Teddi a good home. Someone else might have thrown her away but we kept her. She didn't die that winter a hard death of starvation, or being ripped apart by coyotes, or run over by a car. She was safe and warm and lived a good long life here in The Good Land.
We praise God for giving us Teddi, grumpy tho she was. We are grateful that she was one of our good works to do - which was not a burden. We are thankful for her teaching us that lovingkindness is a gift to give with no expectation of return but is it's own reward. And we say farewell to the Grand Dowager Teddi Grumpkins. Amen.