The one where I talk about Baxter (bear with me, there is a cute Ethan story at the end)When moving across country, we have been forced to "purge" some of our belongings. For one reason or another some things just didn't make the cut.
Suddenly that ricketly old table that has followed me from apartment to condo to house since college simply wasn't good enough for our brand spanking new place. And the clothes that were (still) two sizes too small that had been sitting so long on the wire rack in the back of my closet that they have permanent indentions in the fabric...yeah, perhaps it was time to say good bye to those as well.
We trashed, donated and sold many of our things in preparation for the move and honestly, we haven't missed any of it. Except, that is, for one thing in particular. Baxter, our cat.
Ricky and I adopted Baxter when he was just 4 months old - he was a gift to me for our 1-year dating anniversary. It was one of the first things that kind of solidified us as a couple. Everyone knows that when you get a pet together, that pretty much means you're in it for the long haul. Baxter was the perfect kitten. Playful, gentle and cuddly. I always said he was more like a dog because he would follow me around from room to room and wait for me by the door to come home.
After we were married, Baxter moved with us to our first home. And he marked his territory by urinating in multiple corners of the basement. Grrrrrr.... We sprayed sprays. We strategically placed furniture. We purchased the "Urine Gone" with the blacklight from the infomercial. But to our dismay, the damage was already done. We'd constantly ask people if they could detect any odor when they'd visit. The nice ones lied and said no. The honest ones lied too. Nobody wants to tell someone their house stinks like cat pee. We obsessed over it. Sniffing, spraying, repeating.
Before we moved into our next house, my dad gave me a book for Christmas that was called something along the lines of "How to toilet-train your cat". I'm serious. I flipped through it jokingly but found myself seriously considering giving it a try. Can you imagine? A friend comes over for dinner, excuses himself to use the restroom and interupts Baxter Mittens tinkling on the potty a la Jinxy cat on Meet the Parents. Totally absurd.
We did everything in our power to keep Baxter from marking his territory all over again out our next place. And although there were occassional slip-ups, I think it was less noticeable because this house was much larger. Besides, what were we going to do? Get rid of the perfect cat that had become so much a part of our family?
The kids loved Baxter. And despite the horrific amounts of abuse that Baxter took at the hands of the kids, he, in turn, tolerated them surprisingly well. I'm talking Ethan sitting on him, Aiden pulling his tail, stealing his toys, spilling his water - the works. At the end of the day, he'd still curl up at my feet and gently purr. He was not one of those mean old crotchety cats who hid for hours on end. He loved to be with us always.
When the decision to move to Texas was made, we had gone back and forth about whether or not Baxter was going to come with us. Ultimately, we decided that yes, we couldn't just leave him behind. And if we did, it would have to be with someone we knew - we would never just take him to the pound or post a "Free to Good Home" flyer at the supermarket.
The next big decision was how to get him here. The thought of cooping him up in his travel cage for a 16 hour drive in a jam packed car was not appealing (for him or for us). But the only other way to transport him would be to send him on the airplane with my parents...who were also so generously bringing our kids down with them too. That also seemed like torture (for him and for my parents) so we decided that my mom and dad would keep him until they came back to visit us for Thanksgiving. In the time since, Baxter has grown on my parents and they asked if we wanted them to keep him for good. We looked around at our house that still smelled brand new and made an executive decision. Go ahead, call me a rotten cat-owner.
With all the craziness of the move, getting unpacked, getting organized, etc., the boys never really mentioned Baxter (or the lack thereof I should say). That is until today. Ethan and Aiden were playing upstairs when Ethan came flying down with a ball in his hand. He put the old cat toy that had gotten mixed in with theirs in my lap and said through quivering lips, "Mommy, I miss Baxter". He then broke down sobbing. It broke my heart.
ME: Oh sweetie, Baxter is at Nana and Grandpa's and he loves it there. They are taking very good care of him.
ETHAN: But I want to go to Nana and Grandpa's.
ME: We will be there in a few weeks for Christmas.
ETHAN: No, I want to LIVE at Nana and Grandpa's.
ME: But Ethan, that would make mommy and daddy very sad. You wouldn't see us every day.
ETHAN: That's okay. You can see me at Christmas.
And there you have it. A long drawn out story about our abondoned cat so that I could explain how my son wants to abandon his parents at 3 years old. Somewhere in Northern Kentucky, Baxter sits curled at my mom's feet with a smirk on his face thinking "Haha, now you know how I feel!"
(Oh, and by the way, dad, I'd give you the book back now that you are Baxter's rightful owners, but unfortunately that was one of the things that didn't make the cut in the move.)