I decided a few days ago to get rid of a box full of papers from when I had bypass surgery — 1998, and doesn’t it seem long, long ago? More than half of the box was filled with bills and letters my mom sent to my creditors — doctors, specialists, and, of course, Maine Medical Center, the people who had told me not to worry about bills. I wasn’t aware enough to even know about any of this.
So Mom was in the trenches for me, as far as finances go. And I will always be grateful, because the costs of that stay topped $200,000, (which doesn’t sound like much, now, but this was at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and the dollar still had a little value.) And in this box was all of the evidence of the work she’d done. One more reason to be grateful that I got into her family!
While I was digging around in these papers, I came upon a couple of big yellow envelopes with photos inside. And here were all of the pictures I thought I had lost, from my first trip to Mexico, some family shots, both old and more recent, and about a dozen pictures of my cats, Cromwell and Laslo, from long ago. Cromwell moved twelve times with me, and travelled like a natural — I always knew I could let him run, because he always came home.
When my husband and I got divorced, I moved to North Carolina and, although it broke my heart, I decided to leave Cromwell with Laslo, here in Maine. He was eighteen years old, and he really loved the house where we were. I decided he would be happier staying than going.
After I left, Cromwell was diagnosed with diabetes. Without me needing to say a word, my ex J. took care of him, fed the right foods, gave him his shots, and made him happy for the rest of his life. And when he died, J. did the most thoughtful, wonderful thing I could ever have imagined. He buried Cromwell in the tulip patch, where he loved to sit in the summertime. J. buried Cromwell in a shoebox, with a can of tuna, which he loved so much. (I fed him tuna for a while, and he got those terrible crystals in his urinary tract. I thought he was going to get better, and he just kept getting worse. We found a vet who would take payments, and he brought Cromwell back to me.) So in the box, J. put a can of tuna, and a piece of the string Cromwell played with for years. When J. called to tell me, I was heartbroken, and I cried, like I’m crying now.
But I’m so happy to have the pictures. I can look at them and still remember how he sounded, how he felt when I held him. I feel so lucky that he chose me to live with. Cromwell, sweetie, I’ll never forget you; I loved the way you could make me laugh, and I really do miss you. Bye.