Archive for the ‘Hartsdale Pet Cemetery’ Tag
I finally saw Marcos’ headstone and I must say my reaction surprised me. He is the fifth pet I’ve buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, sixth if I count my brother’s dog, Duke. I found his grave immediately thanks to the pinwheel I’d left at the unmarked grave at Easter. Shiny and new, I could read the engraved words before I climbed the hill.
And I broke down and cried – real tears crying. I never cried at the cemetery with any of my other pets. Not even Fremont. Seeing Fremont carved in stone did stop me in my tracks, and have me uttering his name, but not like this. I couldn’t even smile at the Handsome Hunk of Dog bit. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’ve loved all my cats dearly but I guess this just goes to show that dogs leave a different kind of hole in your life.
Meanwhile back at the House of Mars, life goes on. Summer has come.
So it was down with the storm door
And up with the screen door.
Which has made Marcel and Marceau happy campers
Speaking of the Brothers Mar, they gradually relinquished their claim on Marcos’ beds
so I donated them (the beds, not The Brothers) to the Putnam County Humane Society. Every once in a while Marceau does hang out on the futon, but his days are limited. Come Bulk Garbage Pick-up day in October it will be out in the street. That will be sad, but necessary since I’m in the process of restoring the room to its original status – guest room. But like the rooms at the Bed and Breakfast I stayed in recently, it will have a permanent title – The Marcos Room
As for The Marcos Room, I’ve discovered that taking down wallpaper is a journey.
As for me, yes life goes on. Followers will recall I took at nasty case of poison ivy with me to Key West last year. Well last week I took a case to St Thomas Virgin Islands,
a milder dose, but still annoying.
Oh well, some things just don’t change, do they?
The population of The House of Mars has decreased by one. Marcos departed this world on February 7, leaving Marcel and Marceau,
and yours truly V. Margaret to return to life as it was before he came to live with us.
He had a brain tumor, or so his veterinarian said. I thought it was canine dementia but whatever it was, it left him disoriented and wandering around to get lost in corners.
If he was truly sixteen when I adopted him, he would be 21. (In case you missed that post, here it is.)
If he was 8 or 9, as the vet suggested at his first check-up, that would make him 13 or 14, which is more likely.
This afternoon he was buried at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.
It wasn’t a new experience for me but it never gets easier. It does give me comfort, though, to know he joins all the pets who came before him.
The first to be buried there was Duke, also known as Dukie-Dog and The Duke. Dukie was actually my brother’s dog, and lived to the ripe old age of 14. My outstanding memory regarding living with The Duke is coming home from school and being greeted by “Shush, the dog is eating.” This meant having to stand statue-still until he finished. You see Dukie was an extremely finicky eater and if he was distracted, the meal was over. My mother wasn’t taking any chances.
O.B. Brat, the O.B. standing for Old Baby was also known as The Obadoodle and Badude. She was my first cat and shared my first apartment in Yonkers. I adopted her from Bide-a-wee Pet Shelter in Manhattan; a six week old bundle of white who fit my hand. Even at that size, she had a hiss and growl befitting a Bengal tiger.
When I got her home she ran under the bed. That evening I coaxed her out and picked her up, intending to introduce her to her dish in the kitchen. I got all of two steps when she hissed and twisted out of my grip. “Ooh, you’re such a brat,” I hissed back. Thus, the name.
I became so obsessed with my little Obadoodle that I actually almost stayed home on Friday nights lest she be alone. You notice I said almost. I didn’t but it ruined my fun, knowing she was home alone. What she needed was a friend to hang out with.
I went to the Yonkers Animal Shelter in search of a dainty female kitten and came home with a strapping six month old muscular male. I was passing a cage when a paw reached out and grabbed my sleeve. Imploring me from the cage were the most beautiful green eyes rivaled only by the beautiful black fur surrounding them, shinier than the black patent leather shoes I wore to church when I was so little.
Job E Cat, also known as Joby Cat, Jobinski, Binsk, and Joby Cat the Wonder Dog was a man‘s cat, as in a man’s man. He was rough and ready and loved to wrestle and play soccer, both taught to him by an old boyfriend from England. Soccer consisted of the Englishman soccer kicking a ball of aluminum foil with that odd ankle twist soccer player’s use, and Joby returning it with his own version of a soccer kick, which, now that I think of it, was probably more of a hockey stick move. Back and forth the foil ball would go with the two of them scrambling the entire length of the long living room – until I’d have to put an end to the game. Dogs pant. Cats shouldn’t.
His full name was Job E Cat and that stems from the patience he showed upon meeting her, for she didn’t tone down her obnoxiousness in the least, even though he was twice her size. She hissed and growled and left the room, then came back and hissed and growled some more.
I commented “He has the patience of Job.”
The patience was short-lived however. When it wore off he tried to beat the you-know-what out of her whenever he could. My plan worked – Brat may have hated Joby but she was never lonely.
Joby loved everybody but Brat never let anyone near her …until one evening when I was getting ready to go out. My date had arrived and I went into my bedroom to get something or other and returned to find him leaning over a chair, talking to someone. This was a chair on which Brat had been sitting.
“What are you doing?” I asked, incredulously.
“Petting your cat.” He said. And there she was purring and craning her neck for more.
That was the best character recommendation anyone could give. I married that young man and we all moved to California.
In California Brat abd Joby devised a sharing scheme – divvying up the rooms in the house and agreeing to share the yard.
Brat lived to be 14 years, 3 months and Joby died the one year later. He was one month shy of 15.
Do you think it was mean of me to sentence them to eternity togetherness?
Fremont, my California Cat, also known as Huge Biggie. What can I say about Fremont – my 23 pound guardian, the cat for whom I bought The House of Mars before it was The House of Mars? That would have to wait for Marcel and Marceau, the original Martians. But then you’ve read all about Fremont in earlier posts, and if you haven’t I invite you to. Fremont lived to be eleven
And I’ve also written about Niles, sweet gentle Niles. The black and white kitten who grew to be a slightly smaller version of Fremont, a gentler version of Fremont. Fremont recognized his gentleness and took it upon himself to watch over his little Niles. Niles survived life without Fremont for only a year. succumbing to the same cancer as Fremont.
Only the good die young.
And so Marcos joins the beloved crew. When his headstone is ready, it will say “Marcos, Handsome Hunk of Dog. He was, don’t you think?
Life without Fremont meant different things to different residents of Fremont’s World. The chipmunks and mice felt safer. The raccoon whom Fremont would invite into the house for water stopped making his midnight raids. And the groundhog he used to sit with now just waddled on through and disappeared Alice-like into his burrow underneath the deck.
As for Bully, the French bulldog who lived next door, he rejoiced in being able to come and go without being chased home.
Ironically, Niles, about whom I’d worried most, seemed not at all affected. He had Dino.And while Dino never showered him with nightly groomings on the couch like Fremont had, or snuggled up with him on winter nights,at least he stopped his pugnacious ways – most of the time. And so they co-existed peacefully for a year, a year in which Niles accursed lump grew back.
Late in August of 2005, I opened one eye as Dino stomped over me to leap off the bed and jump to the floor. It was 4:15 AM. I know because when I heard the pet door flap closed I looked at the alarm clock and thought Ah, three more hours of sleep. It was the last time I ever saw Dino.
It was the last time four of my neighbors in this community of 26 cottages saw their cats over the next few days as well. Too late I learned a fox had been spotted in the yard next door, and coyotes, well, they are always around. Some cats, like Fremont and Niles are “street smart. Dino at just over a year was not.
The timing couldn’t be worse, I had to be a way for a week. After much back and forth I decided I’d leave the pet door unlocked. Niles was accustomed to coming and going as he pleased and to confine him with no company seemed worse than leaving him to his feline instincts. I put it in the hands of the powers that be, and instructed his pet-sitter to call me if on any of her twice daily visits Niles failed to show up.
Thankfully I received no call, but still I found my heart beating and my stomach tumbling as I drove up my driveway upon my return. Would I find Niles? There wasn’t even a moment of mystery. As soon as I opened the car door a loud mournful cry issued from the woods above, accompanied by the sound of Niles plodding his way down.
He continued the distressed mewling. Was he in pain from the cancer? Was he injured? A fight wound? I scooped him up and hugged him, examining every inch of him. The lump was indeed bigger but he showed no discomfort when I touched it. Could it be that he was lonely. Well I was back, that should fix things.
I brought him inside and released him on the kitchen floor. He ran into the living room and ascended the stairs to the loft, his cries accompanying him and continuing up there. I looked at the clock. Three o’clock. Saturday. The vet’s office closed at one.
As it so happened I recalled having seen in the paper that Hartsdale Pet cemetery was having their annual blessing of the animals and a pet adoption fair on September 11, the next day. Perhaps that’s what Niles was asking for – a new buddy.
Sunday found Niles still crying, and so I set off for Hartsdale.
I passed by the man entrance and the people milling about the canopies providing shade for the lines of cages beneath, and headed up the hillside to Fremont’s resting place.I stood looking down at the headstone
“Dino’s disappeared and Niles needs a friend. Send me to a cat that’s going to be good to your little Niles. Ok?”
I touched the black stone, and set off on my search, stopping first at a cage containing a black kitten, a female. I knelt down and wiggled my finger through the bars of the cage.I have a soft spot for male cats but maybe a little girl would be better for Niles. Look further something told me.
I passed a couple of dogs then stopped short at ……Fremont and Niles! Well not quite a Fremont, but a mirror image of Niles. This cat’s little smudge of white lay to the right of his nose while Niles’ was on the left. The Fremont look-a-like had more perfect tuxedo markings than Fremont’s.
A volunteer told me they were four month males and had been found wandering with their mother and litter-mates in Mount Vernon.Mount Vernon! That’s all I needed to hear. My brother, Jim, who a month before his death had foreseen Fremont in my life, taught at Mount Vernon High School for almost twenty years.
And so, although I had set out to find one cat, I returned home with two. And I named them before we even arrived home.Since they muttered not a peep on the twenty- five mile trip home (anyone familiar with cats knows this is out of the ordinary) what better than Marcel and Marceau? Their introduction into the house also quelled Niles’ crying. He had company once more.
Unfortunately Niles only had three more months left in his journey, but the brothers stood guard over him on the recliner. Niles curled up on the seat and the brothers on the headrest Sometimes Marcel groomed him sometimes Marceau. And when they took to brotherly squabbles over the headrest, they made sure to miss him when they tumbled to the cushion below.
On December 23 Niles and I the vet for the dreaded “last appointment.” His last moments hit me harder then Fremont’s had. To be so gentle and trusting and to only have five years to show it; I found myself crying quietly and unable to stop. The doctor kept telling me how sorry she was but I could only nod. She took him off to find a box for his trip to Hartsdale but I just stood there at the examining table in the center of the room, staring at the bulletin board on the opposite wall.
It’s tan cork surface was empty of the usual photos of furry clients. I noticed that all the red, green and blue push pins were clustered in the center. It took me a while to realize the pins formed two letters. W and F., I frowned in concentration. W F? Did it mean something? And then with a rush of adrenalin much like when I’d found the stuffed catl in the cemetery, it came to me WF. With Fremont.
Out in the parking lot, I sat at the steering wheel, repeating With Fremont, with Fremont. As my psyche weren’t shaken, I started up the engine only yo have the old 70’s song by the one hit wonder Five Man Electrical Band blast forth from the radio. “Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs, blocking out the scenery, breaking up my mind…”
It’s not a sign, it’s a coincidence!” this from an ex-boyfriend.” I hate when you start with that sign crap.” Yes, ex. Need I elaborate? And yes, I have always believed in “that sign crap.”
Omens, messages, synchronicity, Call them what you will; those guiding lights that appear at arbitrary times in the most common of places. To the rest of the world it may be something ordinary, barely noticed, if noticed at all. But to the one for whom it is meant, it illuminates and affirms the path.
I saw my first New York sign on the very first morning in Harrison. Fifteen years of settling for the San Jose Mercury News with my Sunday morning coffee left me ravenous for the Sunday Times. I bounded out of bed the next morning, intent on finding a deli where I could get the Times, a hard roll with poppy seeds, and coffee. Just the idea of once again having a NY corner deli made me giddy. I’d asked my brother the night before when he picked me up at the airport where I might find one and he’d said “probably on Halstead Avenue,” the main shopping street.
Jet lag or no, I was up bright and early the next morning and raring to go. Fremont was in the linen closet where he’d be hiding for a few more days until he realized this was his new home. I dug up the baggie full of kibble I’d packed in my suitcase, poured some in his bowl, then went off on my quest. I started the car, and headed off in what I hoped was the right direction.
I found Halstead, as well as a church, the post office, a car dealership, a drugstore, the VFW post, but no deli. There had to be a deli. Maybe that initial right turn I’d taken onto Halstead should have been a left. so I turned into a side street to make a U-turn. Of course I picked a one way street. I’d have to go around the block to get back to Halstead. I continued to the next corner where the street sign brought me to a complete jaw dropping stop.
Fremont Street. It was nothing out of the ordinary. People living there had most likely rendered it invisible to their consciousness. But for that one moment, for me, it was a sign. Everything was going to be alright. I had no job, no prospects, and no idea of when or where I’d find one, but I’d followed through on my long-held dream, pulled up all my California roots and moved back to New York. How could things not go my way?
The years brought success, adventures, many new friendships, and rekindling of old ones. Things couldn’t be better and then along came Spring 2004. While petting Niles, I felt a lump on his side. Both he and Fremont were due for their shots so I made a double appointment. The vet did a quick needle biopsy and thought it looked like Sarcoma. “It’s your decision,” he said “but this cat is only three years old. You can let it progress and see what happens or remove it and give him better odds. I’d remove it if he were mine.” While I was digesting all this, he examined Fremont and sighed as he felt his leg.
“Him too?” I cried. “Both of them?”
And so both Fremont and Niles underwent surgery and we entered into wait and see. I was terrified to pet either one of them for fear I’d feel a lump. And my fear was not unfounded in Fremont’s case. His lump reappeared with a vengeance. There was no need to feel it, It was apparent to the naked eye.
I think my mind became unhinged at this point for one Saturday morning in May, I set out on my morning run and came upon one of the ubiquitous yard sales that bloom every spring in Putnam Valley. This one had a second sign on the fence. Free Kitten to Good Home.I stopped and inquired of a small boy sitting on the stairs and was told the kitten was a female. “Oh, too bad,,” I said, “if it was a male I’d take it.”
Sunday morning, I took the same running route. Free Kitten to a Good home was still on the fence, and there standing in the yard was a little girl with the cutest bundle of striped orange.
“Is that the kitten in the sign?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said with the drama inherent in seven-year old girls.”I love this cat so much, but my mom says we have enough animals so I can’t keep him.
“Him?” I gasped. It was a sign!
But in this case it was a sign I should have passed right on by. I think my reasoning followed a line that having a kitten in the house to play with would bring new life to my boys. I say think, because I have no idea what the hell I was thinking. And so Dino became a resident of Fremont’s World. Unfortunately, Dino was a rough and tumble kind, let’s wrestle kind of guy,not what I had in mind, but I kept him. And a good thing I did for Dino turned out to be the crucial link in the Mars landing.
I do not want to dwell on a sad time so let’s just say Fremont’s lump returned. On July 30, 2004 Fremont left his world to Niles and Dino.
But the journey that began with the black and white cat who appeared out of nowhere in that parking lot eleven years prior, the one my brother, Jim, in his final days on the planet, may or may not have foreseen, had one more mysterious turn. I’d say it was a sign but it’s going on eight years now and I still don’t know what to make of it.
My first two cats, O.B. Brat and Joby Cat, as well as my brother’s, dog, Duke, are buried in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery I make it a point to plant flowers every summer and place wreathes every Christmas. Now I’d being decorating a third grave, Fremont’s. Straight from the vet’s I drove Fremont’s remains to Hartsdale. This is no simple case of dropping off the animal and being done. No, the staff affords you a chance for closure. You may come back for a very private good-bye and a respectful burial. I completed all the paperwork and scheduled a day to return
I had every intention of driving straight home but a few miles into the drive, I had an urge to visit my dad’s grave and tell him Fremont was gone. Now my brother, Jim is buried in the same cemetery not far from Daddy’s grave but it was Daddy I wanted to tell and so I stopped at the cemetery.
My usual routine is to park by Jim’s grave, perhaps out of habit since his death preceded my fathers, visit it first, then walk over to Daddy’s. But on this day I parked near my father’s, said what I had to say, and walked through a row of graves in the direction of Jim’s.
About halfway there, I looked down to my right and gasped at what was lying there. A stuffed animal. It was bedraggled and mud covered but here was no mistaking what it was. A black and white cat. Luckily there was no one around on this beautiful hot summer morning to hear me but I don’t think it would have mattered anyway. I scooped up the toy and ran the rest of the way sputtering aah, aah, aah. I held it out to Jim’s headstone, asking “did you do this? did you do this?”
Of course I got no answer. I visit that cemetery at least four times a year. I walk through the same row of graves. I see flags, flowers, Christmas ornaments, statues, but never a stuffed animal. Yes, maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe someone placed it there for some other departed soul. In that case I guess I should have just left it there. But I didn’t. I brought it home to Fremont’s World.