Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

March 1995 - Matt and I had been married 6 months at that time. He had the day off from school so he offered to take me to lunch. I figured we would go to a diner close to where I worked so I was surprised when instead he brought me a homemade salad with homemade ranch dressing to eat in his pickup as we drove south of town. He took me to an animal shelter where he had discovered a barn cat had been brought in with her 6 week old kittens. The shelter employees had named the kittens and Matt had already picked out the orange one named "Pumpkin Pie" because his fur reminded him of my hair (which is red or strawberry blond technically, but the sentiment is what counts). We hadn't even discussed getting a cat but we got one that day.

A couple of weeks later, Matt was searching the classifieds. He found a breeder with 8 week old salt and pepper colored Schnauzer puppies ready for new homes. So of course, we went to check them out. And now we had "Dollar," a silver colored Schnauzer puppy named after John Wayne's horse to go along with our "Pumpkin Pie." Since they were exactly the same age, they grew up as brothers and at times it seemed Pumpkin believed he was a dog and Dollar thought he was a cat. A year and a half later, we would adopt "Moose" the Rottweiler who was named after Daryl "Moose" Johnston, the Dallas Cowboys fullback.

My Moose passed away in 2005 at the age of 10. Matt's Dollar passed away in 2006 at the age of 11. By 2006, we had added four children to our family but had lost both of our dogs. Pumpkin was all we had left and we discussed how long he might have. Many cats live to be 15-20 years old but the loss of his brother, Dollar, was a sad time for Pumpkin so we wondered how long he had left. He did begin to age and slow down with time and the topic often came up for discussion. "Why do you buy the big bags of food for Pumpkin? What if something happens to him and we have all this food leftover?" Matt would ask. I would reply, "Well, it is cheaper to buy one big bag each month rather than a small bag 2-3 times a month." I did eventually start buying smaller bags but only because it became cheaper that way with the coupons from the Sunday paper. Still, Matt worried about the day we had to tell the kids that Pumpkin had died.

Pumpkin turned 16 years old last month.
Last week marked the 3 year anniversary, or "sadiversary," of Matt's unexpected death.
Yesterday, 2/9/2011, Pumpkin Pie died at the vet's office.
Today, I have to tell the kids. By myself.
Something is seriously wrong with that.