When Tom and I were first married we lived in Cedar Rapids, IA, where I worked for the Grant Wood Area Chapter of the American Red Cross and Tom worked for John Deere. One day a coworker of mine mentioned during a morning meeting that she thought her cat might be pregnant. That same day, when she went home over the lunch hour to grab a quick bite to eat, she found her cat holed up in the closet of her bedroom...surrounded by five kittens. Surprise, surprise!
Tom and I decided to adopt two of the kittens, and we knew ahead of time that we'd have one white kitten, one orange tiger-striped kitten, and three dark brown tiger-striped kittens to choose from. Tom and I talked about it, and while we decided to wait until we met the kittens to choose which ones would join our family, we agreed NOT to choose the white one because I didn't want to deal with white fur on all of our furniture. But as soon as we walked through the door of my coworker's home, Tom made eye contact with the white one and then they both looked at me like this:
|This may be a picture of an orange cat, but on that day,|
both Tom and the white cat made these eyes at me.
When we put our house in Ann Arbor on the market in preparation for our move to Texas, Duke and Clementine moved - temporarily, we thought - to Madison to live with my parents. It just seemed easier to deal with keeping the house clean without them around, and while we of course had to disclose that cats had lived in our house at one time, we knew we'd have better luck selling it if cats weren't winding themselves around prospective buyers' legs and trying to escape out the door behind visiting realtors.
In the fall of 2010, after the cats had lived with their Grandma and Grandpa for a few months and we were about to move from Ann Arbor, Duke was hit by a car in my parents' neighborhood and died. The experience was a rough one for Tom, me, and Will, as Duke especially had always felt like he belonged in our family. (Clemmy never really liked Tom very much, and she stopped liking me once I brought human babies into "her" house.)
Now, more than two years after Duke and Clemmy temporarily relocated to Madison, Clemmy still resides there. We decided that since she prefers my dad to my children, she doesn't cope well with change, and Will is mildly allergic to cats, she'll stay in Madison for the remainder of her life. At least we get to visit her.
Duke and Clemmy were our first babies. The taught us to be responsible for someone/thing other than ourselves, and prepared us for the human babies we would later add to our family by regularly pooping, peeing, and vomiting on us and waking us up at all hours of the night.
|When Duke and Clemmy first arrived|
home they hid in the office, behind the
computer and printer, for quite a while.
|Eventually they relaxed and made|
themselves at home. Unlike most cats,
Duke preferred to lay on his back with all
four legs up in the air at all times.
|Both Clemmy and Duke liked studying with Tom.|
|Our 2005 Christmas picture.|
|When I was first learning the craft and could only knit|
scarves (who am I kidding - I can still only knit scarves),
I made a blue one for Duke...
|...and a cream one for Clemmy. Duke wore his for hours,|
but Hallie bit me as hard as she could in protest seconds
after this photo was taken.
|Duke didn't mind the snow, but wouldn't wear his|
scarf outside. Wouldn't that have been cute?
Duke always behaved more like a dog than a cat: he loved having his belly scratched, he longed to be in the presence of people and in the middle of the action, and he seemed to understand, especially after Will was born, that his role in our family was to play with and protect "his" little boy. (Clemmy, on the other hand, was and still is 100% cat: stuck-up, stubborn, jealous, and possessive. )
|Though of different species, Will and Duke looked an|
awful lot like brothers: pale skin/fur, white blond hair,
big blue eyes, little pot bellies...
|Will and Duke played together considerably better|
than Will and Hallie play together.
|We tried to keep Duke out of Will's room - and especially|
Will's bed - but he often found his way in through doors
we thought we'd closed completely.
Duke's little boy still misses him so.
Our big buddy Duke and crazy Clemmy no longer live in our home, but they live in our hearts as a reminder of the decision Tom and I made to begin the transition from couple to family.