Yesterday when my parents called me my mom said to me "I have a Tucker story for you" and in the pit of my stomach I knew that something wasn't right. She told me that on the weekend Tucker lost the use of his back legs. Being a pure bred Maine Coon cat baby, he was predisposed to a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In Tucker's case, a clot was dislodged from the heart, and ended up paralyzing his back legs. The day before that happened, my mom said that he had been running and playing in the house, "kitten time" I liked to call it, when he didn't act like a 12-year-old, but more like a 1-year-old. He also got to spend some time sunning himself on the deck.
On Monday he spent the day just laying in his bed in the sun with my dad by his side, and that afternoon they put him to sleep. Mom said that he was purring the whole time. I keep telling myself that he was purring because he knew in heaven there would be gardens to roam and piles of clothes to sleep in and unlimited fancy feast to chow down on.
He enjoyed twelve Christmases laying under the Christmas tree in all of the presents and bedding down in all the unwrapped wrapping paper. He enjoyed twelve approximate birthdays, June 5th we liked to deem as his birthday. He spent twelve years laying stretched out like a sack of potatoes on my dad's chest, watching the 7 o'clock news. Just to think, I was 9 when we first picked him out and he was so small he could fit in the palm of my hand.
One day I tricked my friend into thinking he was a Lynx and he would eat only raw slabs of meat. Whether or not she was very gullible, he did have some very lynx-like characteristics. In fact, once he was running around in the field behind our house, and an old woman that lived in the old folks home called the "fish and game" warden to report a wild lynx in town. Well Tucker was occasionally wild, but even when we were play fighting, he never really bit too hard.
He spent hours laying in bed with me reading, and sometimes I would slam my book when I was done reading and he would almost jump off the bed because we would get so scared.
My friends used to say that he was special because he put up with so much shit. From the dress-up clothes, to the forced snuggles, to the ballroom dancing we used to do. He actually had quite the form when we were twirling around the room, with his paw held up in my hand.
When he started to get older and his coat wasn't quite so nice, I would bathe him in the laundry sink with coconut kitty shampoo. He'd come out of that sink looking like a big ol' wet rat with his long furry tail all slicked into one long skinny limb. I don't have any pictures of him looking like that, because I figured it would affect his self esteem. Mom would help me towel him off and we would blow him dry and hand feed him treats to keep him calm. Then of course, he would sulk away and "re-clean" his coat, completely destroying the blow drying job and turning it into a mess of soggy cat tongue licks.
It makes me laugh to think that we had so many different names for him, most recently this Christmas we called him Tuckerini Gambino, his Italian mafia name! His African name was Babinga. His Mexican name: El Grande, because at 25 pounds, he was a big guy.
I'll always miss him. Losing a best friend sucks and Tucker was my best friend. I'll miss you forever big guy.