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Lexie Lee

Lexie Lee

Lexie Lee was a hurricane kitty who blew into my yard in 2004 and adopted me for ten years. In March of 2014 she was diagnosed with lymphoma and started chemotherapy. The cancer ended up in her kidneys, and the treatments had to be stopped. Lexie Lee was a wise old soul kitty. She taught me many lessons over the years, but none more poignant than the ones during her terminal illness.

Forgive and Forget
For five months, Lexie Lee had eighteen appointments at Palm Beach Veterinary Specialists with Dr. Beth Lechner. Most visits took five to six hours for blood diagnostics, ultrasound, and chemo treatment. When we returned home, all she wanted to do was crawl into my lap. She had at least one daily medicine to take. During two months, she had to be medicated in the morning and evening. There were even a few weeks when a third medicine was necessary. She was difficult to medicate and tussled with me. But when it was all over and I let her go, I was amazed how she did not go far. I would be busy putting away medicine and cleaning syringes. When I turned around, Lexie was near me. Her attitude was what’s next. She never held a grudge for long.

Do What You Have To Do
Lexie Lee tended to get carsick on the forty minute return visits from the veterinarian. Most of the time she had an anti-nausea shot. When she did not, we could make it about five minutes from home before getting sick. There was not much I could do but keep driving and get her home and out of messy carrier as fast as I could. I always felt so bad for her and wanted to help clean her up. But she resisted and simply lay down in the dining room and proceeded to clean herself. On this one occasion, Lexie Lee took several hours before she was satisfied that she well groomed. I was struck by how she forgot about everything else that she might have done (like take a nap, eat, play with Chauncey and Grace, lay on my lap) and focused on the fur problem. She was a mess, knew it, and dealt with it.

Accept Some Days Are Icky
Taking medicine, getting stuffed in a carrier, or being stuck with needles defined an icky day for Lexie Lee. Hiding out under the bed was the anecdote for feeling sick, tired, or scared. Lay low, conserve energy, and eat all food pushed under the bed were her philosophy.

Patience and Trust
When Lexie Lee was locked in her carrier with as little drama and trauma as possible and headed to the veterinarian for the umpteen appointment, she did not fight to get out. She did not bang her head on the cage door or meow incessantly. She kept her eyes on me as I drove and trusted I would keep her safe. She trusted we would reach our destination together, and she would be released.

Stay Involved in Favorite Pleasures
During Lexie’s battle with cancer, she continued to enjoy her favorite pastimes. Without a doubt, one was greeting me at the door. She would jump on the back of a wingback chair and be nose to nose to me when I opened the door. Then she would kiss me. She was a lap and chest kitty. So if I sat down or stretched out on the couch, she would be on me in five seconds. She liked to playfully nibble on my hands and wash them. She spent countless hours being my muse and hanging out on her custom windowsills in my home office. Catching sunbeams, watching birds and squirrels from the inside, and rough housing with Chauncey and Grace rounded out her fun time. Oh, and did I mention eating?

Live in the Present
Animals are masters at living in the present, and Lexie Lee was no different. She lived each moment and each day as though that was all there was. She did not have nightmares about going to chemotherapy. She did not worry about having cancer or what might happen the next day. She was not concerned about a miracle remission. She did not anguish about how or when she would die. She ate when she was hungry, napped when she was tired, and crawled in my lap when she wanted love.

Be Tenacious and Brave
Tough battles require going above and beyond. Lexie Lee was the strongest willed cat, physically and psychologically that I have ever seen. Those characteristics helped her fight for eighteen weeks of treatment over a five month period. The result is not always our heart’s desire, but God’s will be done. However, the effort has to be put forth. As Dr. Lechner reminded us, “you hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Be Joyful
Lexie Lee was a happy, delightful kitty. She was fun, animated, inquisitive, and loving while terminally ill as well as on the morning of euthanasia. Because she had a joyful spirit, she was a joy to behold. I wanted to be around her forever. Now she is around me forever.

A week passed before I could face the sad task of dealing with physical reminders of Lexie Lee’s passing. There were many. She liked to eat out of small bowls. When she got sick, I put her food in vintage flat glass bowls that accommodated smaller portions. That practice continued for six months. I found bowls in the bedroom under a bench and under the bed and by a water dish. Another bowl was under the dining room table and two more were in the kitchen.

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A large shoe box was under the coffee table. How she loved to stuff herself in that box! The sides were beginning to collapse, but it was still one of her favorite boxes. Her blue pet carrier had been a familiar fixture in the kitchen for months for easy accessibility for weekly vet appointments.

When you have a sick kitty, you try all kinds of food—just praying you find one that is gobbled up. There were extra cans of A/D and baby food that were not suitable for Chauncey and Grace. Left over baked fish and chicken were tossed from refrigerator.

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Then there’s all the medicine: B-12 shots, prednisolone tablets, prednisolone liquid in red and also tuna flavor, appetite stimulant pills, nausea pills, and morphine. Assorted sizes of syringes rounded out the home pharmacy. A bag of Pill Pockets had not worked out. Well if you count once, I guess they did! I chuckled as I removed these from the kitchen cabinet and recalled Lexie’s reaction to them. I had wrapped a prednisolone tablet in one and placed it along with one torn up into smaller bites with no pills. She ate everything on the plate. I thought I had found my miracle vet assistant in the disguise of a Pill Pocket. The next day I prepared the same smorgasbord of pockets and pills. This time Lexie bit into the bite with the pill. She spit it out, looked at me with disdain and walked away. I tried a couple more days, but she was on to me! I was reminded of the saying: Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on me. IMG_3195

There was laundry to tackle. The towel from the pet carrier was removed. The kitchen rug had been a popular spot for me to wrap Lexie Lee up in a papoose towel and administer daily meds. Her bedding was set up in a hallway the last two days of her life. Her pink velour bed from the living room was taken apart for cleaning. Several other throw rugs were tossed in the washer. Some serious vacuuming followed laundry.

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Finally, I filed away a veterinary file chock-full of weekly chemo treatments, discharge instructions, lab reports, bills and receipts. I often referred to it as the “hope” file.

So the physical reminders are minimized. The house is back in order. Chauncey has claimed the pink velour bed. Life goes on. The psychological reminders—well that’s another matter.

Lexie Lee

Lexie Lee

Some of my days are harder than others. Chemo Monday week 8 is one of those days. I don’t know how I know when it is chemo time, but I just do. I snuggle next to Mom Linda in the early morning. She whispers how much she loves me. I stay in bed after she gets up and watch her move around the closet, bedroom, and bathroom. She is not in a hurry to go downstairs to feed us. This is a little change from her routine. So I need to stay on high alert. I move to the foot of the bed and continue watching. She chats away to Chauncey and Grace that we’d have breakfast soon. I am skeptical about what will happen after breakfast and scurry under the bed. Mom Linda pretends to not notice I am gone. She moves around a little more, and then she goes down the stairs calling for all of us. No thank you, I am safer under this bed.

She is not gone for long. She flops on the bed extra hard. Yes, I know you are back. It’s hard to resist crawling back into bed, but I am not going to fall for that old trick. Then she jumps up and I hear music to my ears—cat food pinging into a bowl. Grace and Chauncey have no willpower, and I hear them crunching away. Oh, I am so hungry. Mom Linda leaves again, and I just stay put. Under the bed is a fun place to hang out. There are lots of boxes to hide between.

But this is not to be a day of peaceful purring. Mom Linda returns with Joe to deal with a serious situation—how to get a cat out from under the bed who does not want to be put in a carrier, or ride in a car, or go to the vet, or have chemo. Seriously, how many more reasons do I need to get to stay under the bed? Well, I won’t make it easy on them.

I hear the bedroom, closet, and bathroom doors close. I guess I am on lockdown. Joe starts pulling out boxes and disturbing my hideaway. He shines an obnoxious flashlight under the bed. I try to make myself smaller. Then I play my ace card. I crawl into the box springs. He lies flat on the floor and reaches in to try and get me out. How stupid is that! I scratch him. Meanwhile Mom Linda is standing on the other side of the bed being very quiet. After several loud hisses and lots of commotion, Joe crawls out and leaves the room. Mom Linda leaves too. Chauncey crawls under to check on me. I don’t like being in the box spring. So I crawl out and lie on one of the boxes under the bed. Have I really outsmarted them?

My victory is short-lived. They are back with Joe saying let’s try one more time. Let’s not! Joe asks Linda to pull out a box slowly. Imagine this—it’s the box I am on. As Mom Linda sees me emerge, she throws a big towel around me. I like being wrapped in towels, so it’s not too bad. Mom Linda calls out to Joe that she has me. Joe picks me up, and I am lowered into the cage. The prison door clicks shut. No, I did not outsmart Mom Linda and Joe. Maybe next week!

Lexie Lee

Lexie Lee

Mom Linda is at it again. Renovating that is. This is the fourth renovation I remember. So I know what to expect. I knew something was brewing the last few weeks as lots of special deliveries arrived. I saw that big brown truck stop in front of the house several times. I ran upstairs just to be safe. I taught Grace and Chauncey when they were babies to hide whenever we hear loud noises outside or whenever someone rings the doorbell. Mom Linda tells us not to run, but we don’t listen. She calls for us when the possible danger is gone, and we come out of hiding.

She gets excited when she opens the boxes. I get excited when the box is empty and I can sleep in it. This time the downstairs guest bedroom and bathroom are being redecorated. This concerns me because Chauncey, Grace and I have a routine of hanging out in the bedroom especially when Mom Linda is gone. Chauncey likes to stretch out on the bed on a velour burgundy robe. He thinks he really is Prince Chauncey. Well, I have to admit he is a handsome cat. I doze on a wicker table that is windowsill height, and I can see outside activity. Princess Grace sleeps on a box on top of a sewing machine cabinet and can also see outside. We can see and hear Mom Linda the minute she parks the car. That’s real important because we want to give her a proper welcome home. We miss her so much when she is gone. I perch on the back of a wingback chair and am positioned to give Mom Linda a kiss the instant the door opens. The chair is gone now. I think it is in that big white POD. In fact the bedroom is empty. We get to roam around in it after the workmen leave, but it is boring. I can’t see outside.

During renovation day, Mom Linda puts us in detention in her bedroom on the third level. We have to get up early for breakfast in the kitchen. We don’t mind that. Mom Linda is the one who lollygags in bed. After we eat, we get herded back upstairs. Who says cats can’t be herded? I run along and don’t cause any trouble. I never know when I may get stuffed in that carrier and taken to the vet for chemotherapy. Sometimes Mom Linda has to go hunt for Grace and Chauncey. We can still hear all the noisy hammers and drills in our hideaway. But I crawl under the bed between boxes and put my paws over my ears. She visits us every two hours and brings food. Since I have cancer I get to eat whenever I want. I guess that is one of the blessings. She wants to fatten me up. I think Grace and Chauncey are getting fat too. They try to eat my food.

Change is hard for me. Loud noises scare me. But I trust Mom Linda that the house will get put back to normal, and my daydreams will be quiet. One day soon the POD will be gone, and my favorite stuff will be returned to the bedroom. She always takes great care of me. Some things never change. I can count on that.

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National Library Week is April 13-19. This year’s theme is Lives Change @ Your Library. I grew up in a small town and going to the local library after school or on Saturday was a treat. Today it still is! I am fortunate to have a wonderful library within two minutes of my house. Please enjoy this creative story The Library Cat written several years ago about Lexie Lee.

Lexie Lee is excited today as I have just told her we are going on a jaunt to the Village of North Palm Beach Public Library. While I attend the Friends of the Library annual awesome book sale in the Thelma Obert Room in the lower level of the library, Lexie Lee gets to explore the upper level stacks. She loves to go there since she does not get out of the house anymore except to go to the library or to the veterinarian. She much prefers the library!

Lexie Lee wants to read Cleveland Amory’s book, The Cat Who Came at Christmas. She thinks it sounds like a great book since she is the cat who came to my Florida home after Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances in 2004. She wants to compare her outdoor adventures with Polar Bear’s. I wish she could record her journey to me. When this beautiful Maine Coon cat appeared on my patio after the storms, I could only imagine what she had endured.

After Lexie Lee purrs over Polar Bear’s extraordinary story, she turns her attention to another book, Tatianna—Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend. Lexie Lee is quite familiar with this book as she spent a multitude of hours on my lap while I finished writing this tale. She loves to prance around the library telling everyone on my behalf that they just have to read about Tatianna and her buddies including Noelle, Taittinger, Marnie, and Katarina.

Lexie Lee settled into domestic living quite naturally after being blown into my yard from somewhere. She loves warm fuzzy blankets and voluminous feather beds. She likes to gaze outside from high vantage points of our tri-level house. Lexie Lee is a window sill and sun seeking cat, so after her library adventure, she is ready to crawl into a sunlit soft chair to catch some sunbeams. What would be even better is if she can crawl into my lap and rest her head and front paws on my chest! But for now, I am busy carrying boxes of treasured reading to my car.

Later, when I come to find Lexie Lee, she runs to me the minute she sees me. I reach down and gather her up in my arms and tell her about all the special books I just found at the library sale. She has always loved her new name, and I show her a hardcover book by Nicholas Sparks, True Believer.

“Look Lexie Lee, I found another book for you to read. You are named after the leading lady, Lexie, who by the way is a librarian!”

I muse on the significance of the True Believer title and the relationship Lexie Lee and I share. As I rub her on the top of her head, my precious hurricane kitty purrs.

I softly whisper, “Linda loves Lexie Lee. Let’s go home my love.”

Bountiful Blessings!

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Happy Birthday to Chauncey and Grace. I can’t believe my fur babies are three years old today. Chauncey had a little too much birthday cake and is now hanging out (literally) in his cat perch bed. Grace has promised not to get crumbs in her bed. I know my brother is giving their sister Rosebud and brothers Angus, Tigger and Bootsie extra special treats on the farm today. We miss all of you and Mom Rose bunches.

Too much birthday cake!

Too much birthday cake!

Where's my birthday treats?

Where’s my birthday treats?

Warm Purrs!

Sarge and Mother

Sarge and Mother

Today, I pay tribute to my niece’s family dog of thirteen years. Sarge passed away on February 18, 2013. I know her family misses their beloved companion very much. My mother adored dogs, and I cherish this photo of two old souls. I fondly recall that she requested a picture with Sarge during a family visit on December 24, 2008. As it turned out, that was the last year all of us celebrated Christmas together as mother passed away the following summer.

Tribute to a Best Friend

Sunlight streams through window pane onto a spot on the floor…
then I remember,
it’s where you used to lie, but now you are no more.

Our feet walk down a hall of carpet, and muted echoes sound…
then I remember,
it’s where your paws would joyously abound.

A voice is heard along the road, and up beyond the hill…
then I remember,
it can’t be yours, your golden voice is still.

But I’ll take that vacant spot of floor and empty muted hall,
and lay them with the absent voice and unused dish along the wall.

I’ll wrap these treasured memories in a blanket of my love,
and keep them for my best friend until we meet above.
~~Author Unknown

Poem Credit: Pet Loss Matters

C&GWhenever I leave the house, I have a cat ritual. I go to Lexie Lee, Chauncey and Grace and say good-bye. I pat each on the head and tell them when I will return. Sometimes, they are hanging out together in the third level hall, master suite or office area, but other times I have to look for them on one of the other levels of my home. Earlier this week, I started my rounds with Lexie Lee in the master bedroom. Then she slid under the bed where she likes to sleep when I leave. Chauncey and Grace were nowhere to be seen. I headed downstairs to the second story. I scanned the cat perch and window sills, but no felines were in the living room or dining room. Chauncey met me in the kitchen.

“Where’s your sister?” Oh, if he could only talk!

I went to the lower level. Grace often sits in the guest room window to watch me leave. But she was not there. So back up two flights of stairs! I searched my office again where double windows look out over the street and is a popular station for all three cats. No one there this morning. I looked under the bed for cat ears and saw Lexie Lee nestled between storage boxes, but no Grace. To make sure, I went to the kitchen for a flashlight and returned to bedroom to check under the bed again. I was right–Lexie Lee was alone. Back in the kitchen, Chauncey was still waiting for me. He knew I was looking for Grace.

By now, I was concerned. Where was Grace? I had not opened any outside doors, and the windows were closed. Less than fifteen minutes ago, Grace was in the dining room hoping to get a lick of almond milk from my cereal bowl. But now I sensed something was not right. Back down to lower level I went with Chauncey running ahead. Still no sign of Grace in cat library. Chauncey brushed up against my leg as I entered the hall to recheck the guest bedroom.

“Where is Gracie?” I ask again as I survey the room. I go back into the hall to return upstairs and Chauncey stopped in front of the laundry room and sniffed the door.

“Grace isn’t in there sweetie. I have not been in that room today.” Chauncey would not move. He looked up at me imploring me to open the door.

To show Chauncey that Grace was not in laundry room, I opened the door. To my amazement, Grace appeared! Chauncey acted as relieved as I was to be reunited with his buddy. I reached down and petted the duo.

“Thank goodness Grace. Why didn’t you meow? Chauncey, what a great finder you are for leading me to Grace!” He knew all along his sister was shut in the laundry room.

As I drove to work, I thought about Chauncey and how smart he was. No, he couldn’t talk, but he communicated through his body language, eyes and actions. All I had to do was pay attention!

If you are wondering how Grace mysteriously disappeared, I learned Joe had stored cleaning supplies in the laundry room a few minutes before I started my good-byes.

Have you ever lost your cat in your house?

Warm Purrs!

So I get to my office and the keys are not in my bag to unlock the door. Flashback to the evening before………

I am relaxing on the living room couch. All of a sudden pandemonium erupts. Chauncey sprints into the dining room from the kitchen, circles around the dining table and knocks over a small tilt-top table. A metal tray crashes to the hardwood floor. Princess Grace and Lexie Lee bolt for the upstairs level. Chauncey is on their heels. I still can’t comprehend what is happening. The noise level is incredible. As Chauncey speeds by, I see a plastic tote bag attached to him. What? It looks like a parachute has just opened behind him! Minutes before I placed the bag on the kitchen table when I returned from work. I removed the water bottle and left the bag standing upright.

I leap off the couch and run up the stairs after Chauncey. He is under the bed for a split second, but reappears in my sight. I grab him. By now the bag is flattened and is hanging together on one side, but the handle is tight around his belly. He is frightened and fighting to get away from me. A fleeting thought is to cut the bag off, but I am not close to a pair of scissors. Probably just as well! With one hand I push Chauncey into the soft comforter, and he calms down slightly.

“Give me a minute Chauncey and I’ll get this thing off you. How did you get into this mess? I’ve got to get the handle around your front legs. Oh my, let me do this!”

As I continue to talk to Chauncey, he relaxes. I ease the handle around the right front leg and then over his head, and he is freed. I chuckle as I am left holding my tattered Live, Laugh and Love bag. Well, I’ve had my laugh for today!

Later that evening as I’m putting the house back together, I find the top to my lipstick tube under the dining table. It does not occur to me that the office keys were in the bag as well. A day later I find the keys in a corner of the dining room. The lipstick is still missing!

Warm Purrs!

Chip & Dip Time

I picked up an easy dinner at Costco this week–things like chip & dip, spinach salad and pasta salad. I set the table with part of the meal and disappeared into the kitchen to complete the preparations. When I returned, Lexie Lee was stationed in my chair with her eyes on the chips.

When you are going to open the dip? I’m hungry!

Warm Purrs!

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