Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Ode to Roadster; A Farewell to a Friend


Roadster, AKA Roadie, passed away last month and with her passing, a piece of me has left with her. 

It's funny how animals burrow into our hearts, but it happens, and you never see it coming.Roadster was a cat like no other and was the closest thing to a soul-mate that an animal could be to a human.

I found her in 1993, as a frightened tiny kitten that needed a can of tuna to be coaxed out from her hiding spot and from that day forward, my life was changed forever.  Unlike any cat I've ever known or will know, she evidenced a level of intelligence that has ruined it for any other cat out there.

I named her Roadster because that's where I found her, in the middle of the road.  I'm a guy... what do ya' want from me!?  I was coming home from bowling and spotted a crowd of people on both sides of the street, on the sidewalk, swarmed around a little fuzzy pile in the road, and that's where I first saw her.  I pulled over and the chase was on, not realizing that chasing this cat down was setting my life's fate in motion.  (Not to mention no one else was doing anything but looking.  But that's what I do... I catch strays.  It's a bad habit.)

I had chased her around and under cars, behind and through shrubs, and wherever she went.  This lasted for quite a bit of time.  After a while, I had thought I had her but after crawling under a van, I then thought I had lost her.  It was a valiant chase, but alas, to no avail?  While I was laying there under this van catching my breath, I wondered to myself, if I were her, where would I be?  I slowly rolled over and looked up at the top of the right front tire, and there she was, exactly where I would have been, looking down on the guy trying to catch her.  Her sense of irony rivaled my own!

She rode home sitting on my dashboard and when I got her home, I picked up the phone to call someone, asking what I should do and I said aloud that I should "probably put her in the bathroom when I go out for supplies."  Roadster immediately proceeded to jump off the couch, walk across my apartment and into the bathroom, turned around and sat down, staring at me.

"I have to go now.  I need to go find an exorcist." I said, and hung up the phone.
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Roadster seemed to understand my words which confounded me.  At first, she used to hide all the time.  After a few weeks, I picked her up, looked her in the eyes and said, "You really aren't any fun as company if all you ever do is hide."  From that moment forward, she never hid again but rather, sat next to me on the couch every night while I watched TV.
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She used to chew on power cords at first also.  Again, I picked her up, looked her in the eyes and said, "Do not chew on power cords.  They will kill you and I will be very sad for that."  From that moment forward, she never touched a power cord.
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We used to go for walks.  I'd let her sit on my upturned hand and I would carry her.  As she got older and bigger, she would just hang there, legs on either side of my arm.  Even when I tested her bravado and stuck my arm out over the 2nd floor balcony.  (Don't worry, I had a 2nd hand hovering micro inches from the nape of her neck just in case she freaked.)  But all she did was take advantage of the view and look around more.  The person that freaked was me, because she was so comfortable hanging there.

We were like that, inseparable.  Except when we slept.  No matter where we lived, she always slept against the east facing wall in the bedroom.

And if I ever overslept, she would let me know about 15 minutes after I was supposed to get up.  After a while, she replaced the alarm clock.  It was like, "Dude, don't let me starve.  Get your butt to work!"



She was great on road trips.  I would put a suitcase in the right seat, and put her cat carrier on top of it, strap it in with a seat belt and away we would go.  She loved those road trips.  She would stare out the window fearlessly at the semi-trucks rushing by and loved looking at everything we drove by.  She never cringed from anything while with me.  She trusted me.

I met my first wife because of Roadster, because she worked at the vet I took her to and that became one of those storybook meetings.
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Roadster was, for all intent, the cat version of me.  Playful and sly.  Practical joker and excellent companion.  During play time she knew how to dodge the nerf projectiles by peering around corners with just one eye and nothing more... and she also knew when I was done and not on the "attack."  We'd nap in the sun that hit the bed in the afternoon and just did things like that.


We were like one, of mind and spirit.  Well, except after baths.  She was much like a small dog.  Always by my side.  Always in the room I was in, no matter what.  No matter how many times I would change rooms to test that theory... she always moved with me.  She looked out for me.

But as time would tell, the marriage that came out of finding Roadster grew apart.  One of my most painful memories of that time was watching Roadster sit on my luggage pile, waiting for me to take her with me.  But where I was going, I could not have a cat.  And that was my fateful mistake.  I would take it all back, everything, to fix that one moment in my life, that one decision.  But...

My soon to be ex said she would hold on to Roadster until I could come and get her.

But then the unspeakable happened.  I called for my beautiful Roadster and my ex declared that it wasn't a possibility because of...  It doesn't matter what she said.  She went back on her word and I lost the only thing I cared about in my life back then.  And I lived every day since with the premise that she was always my cat, no matter where she was and I had abandoned her.

The darkness of my regret haunted me every day since, that one mistake you never forget from your life.  All I have of Roadster are these 18-year old pics. Pics that I look at almost every day.  Then, through the grapevine, I heard...

I heard that my ex had to put Roadster to sleep and they presented a beautiful piece about Roadster on their social network page.

I am grateful that she lived a good long life.  I'm confused I had to find out in a secondhand fashion, but it doesn't really matter.  She had always been in my thoughts.  And nary a day went by that I didn't wish I had been a bit more adamant about getting her back.  But I know she had a good life.  No matter what came of my first marriage, I knew Roadster would always have the best of care.  I had at least that.

Now, my guilt of having abandoned her has a different air and closure can never be had.  But at least Roadster is free to run through the fields of heaven and maybe come and visit me.  (As long as she doesn't pull any of the crap she used to pull on me.)  She had a good life from what I can tell, and that's really all that matters.


Good night Roadie...  I'll be along some day and we can play once again.

Your bud, Bruce... the guy that gave you that annoying name.