falling snow

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Attic Treasures

TC's Journey - Part Two of Two

(TC's Journey, Part One, begins here.)

December found us venturing out as many warm days as possible, if only briefly, knowing winter's chill would arrive all too soon. We wandered in the yard on December 3, an unusual gift of the season, and TC was able to shed her blanket once again.

Abbey spent her time wandering,


and being the silly, playful girl she is.

Spirit, on the other hand, ventured from familiar sitting spot to sitting spot, eventually deciding upon the stairs to enjoy the breeze and let the sunshine come to her.

TC was feeling well and strong after her October illness. I didn't realize quite how much strength she had gained until she began to climb the deck stairs on her own. I stayed close behind, reassuring myself probably more than her that she could climb all the way to the top.

She navigated a few steps at a time

and paused part way up for a bit of a bath, something she hadn't often done since her illness.

She made it all the way to the top and lingered there for quite a while, pleased with herself at her solo accomplishment. She surveyed her familiar territory, taking it all in from a lofty vantage point.

It was a grand time for our blackest cat in all the land, sunbathing during the lingering days of autumn into winter's warmth.

She began to walk down the stairs alone, all ten of them, but that was far too much independence for her and way too scary for me! Safe in my arms once again, we made our way down for a bit more exploring before time to head inside for what was to be our last long outing before winter's snows arrived.

It began as a day when the "to do" list dared to present itself, having last year been tucked away in the kitchen drawer (remember this entry?) One of those, "check something off and get 'em done" kind of days. But the calling breeze and the beckoning sunshine implored more emphatically than any list ever could. My spirit gave way to a day outside for the girls, the list put away for some other time once again. Oh yes, there was a time when the to-do's would have won out, a time when the call of the spirit would have been postponed for tomorrow. But not these days. These are TC's days, the most treasured days of all. Incredibly blessed and thankful, one of TC's most powerful teachings has been to let the spirit have its way, for spirit always knows best. Thanksgiving continued into December as untold gratitude surfaced into tears, watching our girl so strong, capable, and determined, while the best gift of Christmas came early this day, atop the deck stairs, beneath the old Maple tree.

We said good-bye to 2013 with the last sunset of the year 

and began to look forward to our days inside in the coming season.

Winter was very kind to our girl, making trips to the vet minimal in January and February. We only had to venture out once monthly for her B-12 injections. I was relieved knowing she could be spared the bitter cold since her body no longer adequately regulates its temperature. It is what I had hoped for, with no major illnesses or infections. Our days were spent inside, with her laying by her snowman, absorbing the warmth from the lights during the day or evening, and spending her nights either snuggled next to me under the electric blanket or on her own bed in front of the heat vent covered by a fleece blanket. I brought the snowman upstairs very early last Fall, a comfort and warmth for TC when she was so ill in October. A handmade gift from a friend about six years ago, TC claimed the spot in front of the snowman from the very first time the lights were turned on. Those big bulbs do give out quite a bit of warmth.

It didn't take Spirit long to realize there was something different about the snowman set up this year as she discovered the addition of the heating pad under the kitty bed. It then became squatter's rights for whoever snuggled in the bed first, with the outsider left to stare, willing the comfy kitty to move. 

And so, as with many occurrences this year, things were changed, we adjusted. A bed was added, the heating pad unfolded, prime real estate expanded, and one content kitty became two. Things were a little more crowded, the path through the dining room narrower. It is what we do...

Once TC discovered the heat vent in the bedroom and decided that was her place of choice, I made her a new fleece bed, loosely stuffed with polyfil. She claimed it immediately, either knowing it was for her, or in an effort to keep it from Spirit and Abbey. 

Spirit only had one chance to lay on it, when I first placed it on the floor. She and Abbey must have known it belonged to TC since neither of them made any further attempts to snuggle on this bed.

January and February were filled with cold days and several bouts of snow. We were warm and safe inside, looking out, enjoying these days free from errands and obligations. Abbey entertained herself by watching the birds at the feeders, while Spirit chose to nap awaiting Spring, and TC rested contently. 

A racoon visitor in our front yard around 10:00 PM mid-February.
Super Bowl Sunday is always a big deal at our house. We so look forward to this day. No, I can't say who played in the game this year, or even who won. It isn't really about football for us. It's about the Kitten Bowl that's played the same day! We purchase our game day munchies and get our work done quickly just like everyone else, in preparation for the big day! Abbey loves to perch in front of the TV for the entire game. See her chair sitting there? It just isn't close enough. She likes to be up close and personal where she can really follow the plays. And what's not to love? Time outs for naps and penalties for being, "too cute!" My kind of football! Ha! 

Along with fun time during the Super Bowl, we had some creative time in February as well. I wanted to express appreciation to our veterinarian's office for all they had been doing for TC. Just in time for Valentine's Day, the kitchen was taken over by hoot owls, thirty of them to be exact!

They were packaged with toppers stamped using Hero Arts, "Whoo Loves You?" and a bit of Wink of Stella was added to the owls and the hearts for some Valentine sparkle.

TC would not have approved of an inky paw, so a string of hearts was added on the back letting everyone know whooo loved them.

I promised TC she could deliver her cookies, but Valentine's Day proved far too cold for an outing. However, I didn't sense any disappointment from her in missing a trip to the vet.

Spring made several attempts at arriving early this year, and each time we thought it was finally here. The colors, the scents, the warm breeze, all were so welcome after our winter days inside.

It was a spring sprinkled with days of warmth, rain, and sunshine.

The tulips bowed their heads in thanksgiving for moments of nurturing rain, something all too infrequent last year.

Autumn Glory (yes, we named her), the Fireglo Maple we planted last fall, survived her first winter in our front yard, delighting us with her newborn foliage.

The backyard lilac bush was covered in clusters this year. Who would have thought this would happen after so many snows and so much cold? I opened the attic window, even though there was still a chill in the air, just to enjoy the lilac fragrance as it filled our space with its brief, yet oh so familiar scent in the early spring.

Yes, spring arrived, and the Attic view was lush and oh, so welcome.

The finches shed their winter brown attire in exchange for daffodil bright Easter finery that clothes them through autumn.

My favorite tulip did not disappoint this year. It is a lone bulb, one I harvested from my childhood home many years ago. We have no idea how it happened there, having grown for numerous years at the edge of the woodland where I spent most summer days, playing, imagining, dreaming.

And yes, there were flowers this year! The pots that remained barren all of last season were once again blooming with color. My heart smiled as their nodding heads welcomed me home or greeted me as I looked out the front door. It really is the simple things, isn't it?

TC enjoyed her early spring days, resting on the deck stairs as I arranged and rearranged flowers in the pots, deciding which ones should be in the front yard and which in the back. Oh how I enjoyed these dear friends, having missed them so last summer.

I wish I could say spring and summer were as kind to our girl as winter. TC developed what her vet termed, "a raging bacterial urinary tract infection"the end of March and received a 10-day antibiotic shot followed by an additional 10-day course of a different antibiotic to rid her system of the bacteria. There was yet another bladder infection in July and another one in September. She suffered a micro stroke the end of April; the results of her neurological tests were not what I had hoped. The only course of treatment was to wait and see how much she could rebound. Three weeks later, when it was time once again for her B12 injection, her neurological tests were greatly improved. She has continued to have some residual effect in her back leg, but all in all, a good recovery. Each illness takes its toll on her small body, never fully recovering to her previous state of wellness. But tenacious she is, and not much stops her.

Mid-April I left TC to run some errands with my friend. We were gone only a short time, an hour and 45 minutes. When we returned, TC was missing. We checked all of her usual resting places and then began searching under furniture and places she seldom frequented. After several frightening moments, my friend finally found her, wedged in the four-inch space between the wall and the fridge, at the very back corner. I don't know how she managed to fit, but there she sat, scrunched, facing the wall. I am not certain if she was waiting for rescue or was quite content for respite from the incessant walking she had been doing all day, the wandering this time caused by an adverse reaction to a new anti-nausea medication. My friend moved the fridge and was able to slide her hand under TC's tummy, scooping her to freedom. Since then, we have scrutinized our surroundings and hopefully TC-proofed our home. The days are made of such caretaking; how I wish it wasn't necessary, but I am grateful to provide the care she needs.

TC visited the vet on April 30 for her monthly B-12 shot, a necessity to keep her levels in balance. When she becomes low on B-12, nausea and drooling set in and she is unable to consume the food necessary to maintain her weight. She becomes lethargic and basically doesn't feel well. While we were there, I was asked if she could be on their FaceBook page as the senior pet for the day. Of course I agreed. I think our girl posed quite nicely for her social media debut!

Once May's warmth descended upon us permanently and the front door was opened daily, TC returned to her favorite place on the entryway rug, her black fur warmed by the sun shining upon it. Abbey decided that was her chosen place to hang out as well. In addition to the sun's warmth, I also believe TC developed a need to be near someone at this time. Abbey didn't always like sharing what was usually first claimed by her, but she was ordinarily a good sport and let TC lay unusually close by.

Once summer's heat arrived in June and we turned on the air conditioning, TC decided the vent was no longer her friend, even though we shut the louvers and completely sealed it off. She sought out a new place for her bed and discovered the warm air coming from under the fridge. It continues to be her favorite place. Her bed there is made of two memory foam mats stacked on top of each other, along with her fleece blanket for padding and another blanket to cover her. I am not sure if it is the blowing warm air or the constant hum she finds comforting. It is a bit awkward place for her to be, but it doesn't deter me from my numerous trips in and out of the fridge. It just means she receives extra cuddles and hugs as I scoop her up each time to open and close the door. Was this her plan all along? 

TC's summer days were filled with good days and bad. For the most part, the good won out. The bad ones were very bad, filled with confusion, an inability to stop pacing, vomiting, drooling, nausea. I was told this was the course we were on. We celebrated the good days and provided reassurance and comfort to ease the bad ones. Much of the nausea, drooling and vomiting has now subsided due to the addition of potassium to her daily fluids instead of the oral medication that was discontinued in July when it was found she could no longer tolerate it. It has all been a process, discovering what does and doesn't work.

Our summer, like the spring, was filled with several rainy days as well as thunderstorms. The storms were especially difficult for our black cat, even though they never bothered her before. Sometimes she would pace for a couple of days before a storm, and other times it would be during the storm. No amount of holding her or rocking could console her or give her respite from the uncontrollable walking that took over her body sometimes for many hours at a time. We tried several different modes to calm her; closing all the blinds, playing soft music, sitting on the floor with her. Fortunately she has calmed some in the last couple of months as autumn's arrival has brought fewer rainy days.

Last fall's illness involving the toxicity to her subcutaneous fluids was the beginning of TC receiving daily fluids at home instead of at the vet's office. November through mid-July, my friend came every evening to hold TC while I administered the fluids when dh wasn't able to be home at the scheduled time. There were times when my friend and I changed our plans for an evening out and decided to have take out food at my house instead, based on TC's condition for the day. Just recently, upon hearing that TC was quite ill over the weekend, she brought a surprise Chinese dinner once again. She's like that, my friend, always knowing what to do, and when to do it. Her presence blesses me and she is loved. Her devotion and concern for TC (and me) has been unwavering. She has heard my fears and celebrated the good times with us. After TC's micro stroke in April, eating from her food bowl was quite difficult unless I sat on the floor and held the bowl up for her. My friend, ever so kindly, asked if I had tried putting the bowl on a phone book. Well, no, the thought had not occurred to me, so involved I was with care taking, that common sense escaped me. Her idea worked beautifully, and to this day, TC still uses the phone book. It really does take a village, doesn't it? While I could have done the fluids alone and somehow kept TC from escaping, especially in the early days, it was so much easier with my friend's help (or dh's help). But then, everything is always easier with a friend, isn't it?

TC has now enjoyed a lifetime of 19 years and five months (an approximation since she came to us as a small feral kitten). Her weight is currently less than one-half its once robust 12 pounds, the effect of kidney disease. On good days. On bad days or when she is a bit dehydrated, it may be less. She receives a special mix of subcutaneous fluids once per day and medications two times per day. There are now a total of three prescriptions. I give her 24-30 ml of water per day through a syringe and 5- 6 teaspoons of water on her food since she has been unable to drink on her own since her diagnosis in 2012. She eats 4-5 times daily. Her once all black fur is now showing tinges of auburn as it did in her kittenhood, an equal sophistication to gray, for certain. Earlier this summer, I spotted the first white hairs, a few on her tail, a few on her right hip.

For everything TC has been through, the good days and the bad, her spirit is still strong. Dr. S calls her "amazing." During one of our visits last month, after discussing yet another rebound and another possible stroke, he has come to believe she has 18 lives. Dr. H calls her "a tough ol' girl." My friend who cuddles her for her fluid treatments thinks she's "incredible." Another friend who visited her this summer called her "one loved little kitty." That she is. And then there is a long distance friend who has never met TC, but always checks on her, who has relabeled her initials from "TC - Tree Climber" to "TC - Tenacious Cat." I like that. Determined. Persistent. Strong spirited. That she is.

Her mind may wander much as her body does, but there are things of which she is certain. She knows where the sun spots are and follows the sun's course as it moves from room to room throughout her day. I too have learned where to find her at a given time. She knows the difference between me holding her and someone else doing the same. She is content to sit on her blanket on the vet's examining table until Dr. S comes in the room. It is then she reaches up, climbs into my arms, paws for my shoulder and turns her head away from the one who has come to help her. She knows when my friend arrives and it is time for fluids. We head for the bedroom, where I attempt to place her in a kitty bed. She reaches again for my shoulder, tries to hold on, knowing that in my arms she will elude the daily needle poke. Her ability to tell time remained unwavering until the last few weeks. Treat time at 10:00 p.m. was never missed. Spirit and Abbey depended on her movement, telling them it was time. She would sit in front of the cabinet until it was opened and I sat on the floor with them, handing out treats. In the rare event I missed the designated time, she came to find me, pacing between me and the cabinet, until she convinced me I had missed the holy hour, the time when the treat gods arrived! 

I reflect on our December days and I am so glad I took time out from the busyness and chose to spend some days outside. Spring and summer did not offer TC the enjoyment for being outdoors that she experienced last year. She no longer desired to be in the grass or to go exploring, preferring instead to wander on the patio or the front driveway. As often as possible, I continue to carry her the short distance to the corner, showing her up and down the street, and then we make our way home, all the while hoping the stimulation is enjoyed by her. It is sometimes hard to tell.

Summer took her leave abruptly this year as autumn ushered in her appearance. Short sleeves and sandals one day were replaced with sweaters and socks the next. The air conditioning has been turned off and the furnace has had some brief trial runs. September 5 marked two years since TC's initial diagnosis of liver failure; it was a year ago in August we received her diagnosis of kidney failure. TC's Halloween photo above was taken in September this year while the mum was still in full bloom. So many years frost comes early and the mum is replaced with another arrangement.

We have had glorious Indian summer days this last month followed by short bursts of cold that have kept us inside as we prepare for the seasonal change. This brings us full circle in seasons since part one of catching up on TC's journey began last October. It is TC's autumn as well. I do not tease myself. There will not be another year of seasons shared together, she and I. I know the signs as surely as I know the falling leaves are the harbinger of winter's arrival. This impression flits before me and is fleeting, much as the leaves descend and dance their autumnal dance upon the brisk breeze. I do not allow it to dwell and take rest. To do so would dismiss our today. I prefer instead to continue our own dance, to treasure the holding, the moments, our time together. We have been on a journey of gratitude, she and I, for whatever blessings have come our way, a journey of quality in a lifetime, quality time together. We have celebrated milestones with holidays and mini treats I never thought possible in the early days of diagnosis; days of strength and wellness, good veterinary checkups, a soft black forehead pressed against my cheek, a nuzzle. 

TC has shined her black cat shine for another Halloween, and for the blessing of that day, we can ask no more. I believe she knew they were her Halloween days made just for her, the blackest cat in all the land, for she experienced exceptionally good days on October 30 and 31. Below is her Halloween photo, taken October 30, since Halloween day was predicted to be cold, cloudy and windy.

And so our days continue on. I appreciate your time and devotion in reading this very long post and I am so very grateful for those of you who have been following TC's journey. I realize there are many blogs to visit, and time is precious. Abbey's Attic began as a place to share card designs and bits and pieces of our everyday. Since I have had very limited time for card making these days, it has become an online journal, a place to record TC's journey and to share the Attic treasures. One day I will have some cards to post and will share a few I haven't blogged yet. For now, my days are spent with my girls, caring for and loving them.

As I have been writing this very long post a song my Grandmother loved has been playing in my mind. I think about her a lot. The faith she lived, the strength of her spirit, her wisdom filled words, all molded and shaped an infant into her early adult years. The lyrics are the refrain to "Those Were The Days," by Mary Hopkins. I have substituted some of the words as I suppose that is music's purpose; to inspire, to move, to claim and even perchance to mold the words as our own.

"These are the days my friend.
We pray they never end.
We sing and dance forever and a day.
We live the life we choose, 
We fight and hope we'll never lose.
These are the days,
Oh, yes,
These are the days."

Blessed be your days my friends,


  1. Sally there are no better days than those spent with loved ones furry or otherwise. I pray you have many more days of companionship and shared love.

  2. I am so humbled to be beside you in this journey and be part of the gifts you share.
    -Your husband

  3. You have such a gift, Sally. Thank you for sharing this wonderful journal with us. The pictures are treasures--love seeing all of them. Your girls are all beautiful & clearly loved. Thank you for reminding us that the "to do" list is often not what needs to be done. My thoughts & heart are with you, dear friend.


Thank you for stopping by the Attic. I treasure your visits.