Category Archives: Family


In April 2006, I decided it was time to get a cat.  I had ferrets at the time, but I had always been a cat person growing up.  I had just moved out of my parents house the previous year to go to college and I was really missing the family cat.  It was time.

I went to the San Diego humane society and scoped out the cat rooms.  One of the rooms had a little orange tabby named Danny.  He was adorable and I wanted him.  The woman working in the cat area let me into the room and we sat quietly, trying to coax Danny out of hiding.  I was in the room maybe a minute when this white cat with an orange head jumped into my lap, meowed at me, and head butt me in the shoulder.  It was love at first purr.  Oliver chose me.  There was a small bit of drama involving my apartment manager being out when the humane society was trying to verify the pet policy, but long story short, Oliver came home with me.100_2029.jpg

I had Oliver for maybe a week when he escaped.  I used to sleep with my window open in San Diego.  There was a screen and he liked to sit in the window.  One morning, I woke up and the screen was pushed out, Oliver was no where in sight.  I was so upset, I called my mom, who lived 6 hours away at the time.  She did give my some good advice though: just go outside and call him.  I lived in a complex that was on a busy street and I was pretty sure I would never see this cat again.  But I went outside and called his name.  “Oliver!  Oliver!  Kitty kitty!  Oliver!”  Sure enough, I heard a meow.  He was stuck on the other side of the fence that separated my complex from the auto shop next door.  The second he heard me, he started crying.  We walked along the fence together until he found the opening and he ran towards me.  I’ve never seen a cat run towards someone like that before.  Oliver was special.

Oliver is one of those cats who is almost more like a dog.  Every person I know who doesn’t like cats likes Oliver.  And Oliver likes people.  He is not happy unless he is being pet.  He used to jump on my dad’s shoulders when my dad would visit me in San Diego.  he will launch himself at my fiancé’s back if he is bent over to put on shoes.  He sleeps next to me on my pillow, sometimes taking the whole thing for himself!  Keeping him off the dining room table is a battle, especially when we are eating dinner.  If there is a free lap around, Oliver will find it and lay in it.

And this cat is a talker.  He chirps at birds, at the other house cat, at the yard cats, at the dog, at his people.  He lets you know when he’s hungry.  He lets you know when you aren’t paying enough attention to him.  You call his name, and he will answer from anywhere in the house.

My favorite thing about Oliver is his purr.  You can hear this from across the room.  He has this loud, low, motor sounding purr that you can feel in your chest.  When he’s happy and in a lap, his whole body vibrates with his purr.  You know when this cat is in his happy place.

In May 2018, Oliver stopped eating dry food and started losing weight.  Concerned, I took him to the vet.  The vet took blood samples and recommended a specialist based on the white blood count results.  The specialist ran some tests.  Oliver was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma in his GI track.  

There was a treatment, but cats with small cell lymphoma typically did not go into remission.  Most cats, though, responded well to the treatment and could live good lives for 1-3 years.  Oliver is not like most cats.  The treatments were hard on him.  We struggled to find a cat food he would eat and had to switch types and brands multiple times.  When he wouldn’t eat the cat food, we would give him baby food.  Finally, even that stopped being appetizing to him.

Two days ago, he wouldn’t come to me when I called.  He hid under the couch, no purring, no meowing, not wanting any attention.  He’d barely eaten his dinner and what little he did eat looked like it had been vomited up sometime during the night.  And I cried.  I cried because I knew he was ready even if I wasn’t.  I had to go to a meeting at work, so I pulled him out, hugged him and told him it was okay if he needed to go.  I left him some food, just in case, and went to work, sure that I was going to come home and he would be gone.

He was still under the couch when I got home and some of the food juice had been licked up, but he hadn’t eaten anything else.  He could barely get up and walk to his water bowl.  When he did, he was shaking.  He’s drank some broth over the last few days and is a little stronger on his feet, but I know he isn’t going to get better.  He hasn’t eaten solid food in three days.  He keeps tripping over his feet.

Two days ago I made the hardest decision I’ve have yet to make in my life: I decided it was time to say good bye to Oliver.  I have wept over this decision for two days now.  I have second guessed myself because sometimes he has good moments.  Even now, he’s sitting on the table, his head on my arm (making it very difficult to type, btw), purring.  But he is a shadow of his former self.  He wobbles when he walks.  He can barely jump on the table without falling.  He isn’t eating.  I can’t let him suffer because I can’t let go.

So I will keep his appointment and today at four, I will say good bye to my best boy for the last time.  I am lucky enough to have found people who will come to him so he doesn’t have to be crated and taken to a strange place in his final moments.  He’ll be in my lap, on our chair, happy to be in his happy place as he closes his eyes and purrs one last time.  And he will know that I love him.  And I will miss him.

Olive: August 2005-August 2019

RIP Bug…


Flying Time

I’m always amazed at how fast time flies by when I’m teaching.  Seriously, wasn’t it just August.  Midterms have been taken.  Fall break is over and done.  We’re almost to Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving break.  Then finals and winter break.  It goes by so quickly.  I know that’s kind of a cliche thing to say, but it’s also true.

It’s a weird thing to get older.  I wasn’t sure I was so aware of this when I was a teenager or even in my early twenties, but it’s kinda bizarre.  I’m sure all of my older relatives smile and laugh when they see me saying this, because I’m sure they went through it too.  At least I hope they did.  It’s something that dawns on me as a teacher from time to time.  15 years ago, I was one of those kids sitting in the classroom.  I listened to my teachers, but I secretly thought they were full of crap.  Did they have the realization that they too once thought their teachers were full of it?  Does every teacher ever realize that even as we give sage, worldly advice to our students, we realize that they will believe us or heed our advice until they are in their late twenties and early thirties?  And, of course, by then they could be giving worldly, sagely advice to a new group of teens who just couldn’t give a shit about the great things the adult was saying.  It’s a cycle of disinterest, unbelieving, realization, and then trying to pass on unwanted wisdom.

My father is chucking to himself right now as he reads this.

So time flies by us.  At the end of this month, my grandmother will turn 95 years old.  I wonder how she feels about giving advice to foolish young people who will never heed it away.  Maybe I should ask her.

Let the Festive Day of Gluttony Begin!

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!  Let’s all go stuff out faces with turkey, pie, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie.  MORE PIE!

Oh yeah, and let’s be thankful for some stuff.  This year, I wanted to make a list of things I’m thankful for.  So, in no particle order:

My sister is getting better – She has cancer.  I wrote about it here.  But she’s going to her treatments and it looks like she’s getting better.  They won’t know for sure until they do the next set of CAT scans, but things are looking up.

I have a job that I like – Doesn’t sound like much, but I sometimes hear other people talk about their jobs and how much they don’t like them.  I really like to my job.  And most of my students.

Disneyland – That’s just a given. 😉

That special someone – You know who you are.  And you’re amazing.  And I’m so glad you’re in my life.

Family – I’m spending Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and cousin and the special someone from above.  It’s gonna be a great day.

Friends – I’m spending the first weekend of December with these people to celebrate my birthday and they are all awesome people.

Leaving my 20’s behind – That’s right, I’ll be 30 in just a few weeks.  I look back at my 20’s fondly, but I’m glad to be headed down the path of 3-0, where hopefully I’ll actually have my shit together and actually know what I’m doing and actually have a plan.  I think my 40-year self will laugh at this.

Cheers all!  Happy Thanksgiving!

The big C

My sister was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma a month or so ago.  And tonight is the first time I’ve talked to her since her diagnoses.  And I felt like both a horrible person and a horrible big sister half a second into the conversation – well, the text conversation.  She doesn’t talk on the phone much.

I don’t talk to my sister much.  The last time I had a real conservation with her was Easter dinner at our parents’ house.  We used to be close, when we were kids.  Then we grew up.  I got into my stuff: college, career, boyfriend.  I moved to San Diego for college just after she graduated from high school.  And she got into her things: school, boyfriends.  We just went our separate ways.

I moved back to Phoenix in 2010.  By that time, my sister was married and living her own life.  We went out a few times, tried to mend the bond we used to have, but it was never the same.  Actually, things got worst.  We had a bit of a falling out.  Things were said that can’t be unsaid, by both of us.  We haven’t really spoken much since.

And then she went into the hospital.  And they found cancer.

It’s weird.  I love my little sister.  Very much so.  But we aren’t close and we haven’t spoken in months.  Suddenly she gets sicks, and I’m not really sure how to act.  I also feel like a horrible sister because I haven’t seen or spoken with her.  Like I said, it’s a weird situation.  Am I supposed to suddenly forgive and forget all of the bad stuff between us?  I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel.  Other than horrible and sad and conflicted.

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