ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

April 5, 2010

Eulogy for Bob.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — ifindkarma @ 10:22 pm

It is with deep sadness that I write about the passing yesterday of my great friend of 16 years, Bob. He was an exceptional friend and cat, and I cannot stop thinking about him and his life, and how much better my life was because of him. He shared in my happiness often, and he absorbed my pain when I needed him most.

Was it only last Wednesday that I wrote that every aneurysm is a reminder that life is short; that our bodies are vessels borrowed for a little while in this world; that we should show our loved ones how much we care; that we should strive to be here now.

I miss Bob. I will think of him often, and the lessons he taught me:

1. Be aggressive when defending those you love.
2. Get plenty of sleep every day.
3. Truly enjoy your food.
4. Breathe. Steal an hour to sniff the flowers.
5. Hug your friends whenever they need it.
6. Lead without fear; live with conviction.
7. Be here now. Live in the moment. Show your love.

Apologies for the long post below about Bob and what he taught me and what he meant to me. I would have written fewer words if I had more time. I’m sure Bob would have enjoyed my reading this to him — he would have dozed off early on, snoring (and sometimes kicking in his sleep) vigorously to let me know I was filling his dreams with delicious things.

Losing such a special friend really hits me deep in my core. I feel profound pain. All I want to do is hug my friends and tell them all how much they mean to me. Bob was exceptional as a friend because we hugged often and whenever I needed, and he was always present and supportive, even when he didn’t understand me.

My friend Chris Smith told me that writing a eulogy can help me cope with the loss of someone who was there for me every day for sixteen years. Perhaps part of why I am so shaken is that he left this world so suddenly after being a part of my life for so long.

Bob’s journey started in Pasadena, California, where he was born to our friend Diane Goodfellow’s cat’s litter of two striped and two black mutt kittens on May 12, 1994. He was the runt of the litter — so small, he fit in my hand! Diane said, “You want that one?!” because she was certain we’d choose one of his beautiful sisters instead. But Michelle was unswayed: at that moment, she was not only Bob’s mother — she was The One who chose him, and he’d forever more be bonded to her as his special Queen. He treated her like royalty from day one.

We adopted Bob and his striped tabby brother Beavis; their original names were Pooh and Tigger, and they were together every day for sixteen years. Beavis now looks for his brother, and there’s nothing sadder than not being able to explain that his brother is gone.

I wasn’t so much Bob’s owner, as a member of his staff: preparing meals, administering insulin and other medicines, shopping for him, cleaning up after him, attending to his needs…

Bob lived his whole life in California; Pasadena for the first eight years, and Palo Alto for the last eight. He was like Shimbleshanks, or a Roomba: he loved to patrol, and he preferred a home with an outside yard so he could do regular walkabouts, inside and out.

He was also a “pack leader” — noted by the “red sticker” every vet gave him for “dominance”. Sure, he could be aggressive when defending those he loved, but he was also very loving, and it’s that combination of tough and soft that made him so special.

Bob was “an independent kitty who enjoyed taking long naps, thinking about long naps, finding places for long naps, and getting up from a long nap to resettle a few feet away for another long nap,” as Chris Smith notably wrote about his own friendcat Hobbes. Bob was a big cat, weighing in most recently at 17 pounds, but I attribute most of that weight to his heart. Bob had a big heart.

Whenever I was feeling down, he would walk up to me to see how I was doing. Sometimes he spoke in a voice so high-pitched, it was almost comical for such a big cat. He had a robust, warm purr that you could hear from across the room.

Bob had many loves. Friends, good food, sleep, flowers, toys… he knew what was important in life.

He loved his friends (known to him as “followers” or “minions”). He would generously share his food with his feline companions Beavis and Lola — and although even his humans were reluctant to partake in his food, he was more than happy to partake in theirs.

He loved to share meals with his human companions — and was not too particular whether those meals comprise chicken, salmon, or cheese. Occasionally he’d even steal a french fry when we weren’t looking. Sometimes he’d put c
runchy cat food and toys in his water bowl to liven up a meal. He also loved to take his own food out of the food bowl with one paw, and eat it with his mouth open, with his crunching echoing throughout the house and echoing through eternity. From the sound of his eating I could tell that he truly enjoyed his food.
He loved to sit. Like a king, on his throne.

He loved to sleep. I count no fewer than seventeen places that were his preferred spots to catnap. Some in the sun, some next to heaters, some in human beds, some in cat beds, some in flower beds, some pillows, some spots on the floor, and a few places to get away from it all — one in a closet and one deep under my bed.
He loved to drink water from unusual places, be it a mud puddle outside or fresh “soup” from running the water in the shower. He loved water in unusual containers, ??and he enjoyed different temperatures from ice water to warm water and everything in between.

He loved a clean litterbox so much that whenever we’d clean it he’d rush in to use it immediately — even if all he had were a few drops. Going to the bathroom with minimal results came to be known as “pulling a Bob” in our household.

He loved the news. Once he ate the plastic string that kept a newspaper bound together, and we had to chase him around the house when it came out the other side but he hadn’t completely passed it. He thought we were playing some marvellous game with him and ran whenever we’d get close enough to help him get it out of him. Life was often a game for Bob.

He loved flowers. Once he jumped to pounce some flowers but glass was in the way, and he bounced off the glass and went on his way as if it didn’t happen. Regularly he’d take strolls (and naps!) in flower beds. He loved the feel of the dirt between his toes. Sometimes he’d stick his nose in a flower so far that he’d get bright pollen all over his face. The stark contrast of bright orange specks on his dark black face was evidence of an otherwise perfect crime: stealing an hour to sniff the flowers.

He loved being groomed. He didn’t mind taking baths and occasionally loved them. He had a LOT of soft, lustrous black fur — which led to all manner of dander- and hairball-related complications (especially for Beavis and Lola, who regularly groomed him!). So regularly we’d give him a “lion cut”. People thought this was mean, but he loved it, and would often come home purring up a storm from two of his favorite things — lion cuts and riding in cars.

He loved cars. Sometimes we’d just take him for a drive, and he’d stand up tall with his paws on the dashboard and look out the front window and feel the breeze of the side windows. If he were human, he would have gone on many road trips.

He loved to lead. Bob led without fear — he’d roar at those who got in his way, and was bold and unapologetic about whatever he was doing. He lived with conviction, and he encouraged his followers to do the same. There were so many habits of his — sleeping on our heads like a Russian hat, eating cheese out of the bag, “making muffins” with his paws on the bed, licking mohair sweaters like he was grooming them, rubbing a paw on his human servants to get our attention whenever he needed us or food or toys — that the other cats adopted once they saw him do it. Such was life of Bob, the leader of the pack.

He loved his followers. Not just we cohabitators, and not just the other cats, but anyone who visited us: Joyce and Chris and Darron and the Thedakers and Brian and Heather and Jennifer and Ray and C.T. and Betty and Linda and Billy… we were all his minions. Once he sneaked up on C.T. snoozing in the house and got right in his face and started barking commands, “Meow-Row-Rooww!!” Bob was a drill sergeant with a heart of gold, always looking for more people and things to follow him.

He loved his toys. Since he was a leader, he treated his toys like members of his own Parliament, walking them through the house and talking at them in a high-pitched yodel as if he were telling them what to do when they were about to have a vote on something. “Bob’s Rules of Order”, we used to call them.
He loved to sing. Sometimes chattering to the birds or squirrels (often with a paw in the air going up and down like a maestro directing his orchestra!), other times yodeling in the middle of the night as if he were a grand opera singer.
He loved to dance. Sometimes he’d alternate paws across a glass door and make motions alternatively like he was dancing with himself against the glass. Other times we’d use a “cat dancer” toy and he’d jump around to music, or we’d sit him in front of a “kitty safari” video and he’d get up and dance to the images on the screen. Springtime when he was in the backyard, we’d blow bubbles, and he’d sing and dance and jump and play, chasing and chomping the bubbles like a child.
He loved to hug. His hugs were big and strong, and the sound of a robust purr filled the room. He was always available for a hug, whenever you needed it… and even when you didn’t know that you needed it!
He loved the words of Maya Angelou, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” He loved to meet new people and make them minions of his.

He loved to flatten himself, with paws stretched out and crossed in the front. Not sure what that was about.

And he loved catnip. Boy did he love catnip.

Bob loved every season, and loved to wa
lk the perimeter of the backyard in any weather. After years on the job as a patrol cat, he was getting ready for a placid retirement among the wildflowers and (imported) wild salmons of Palo Alto, CA.

Last Thursday, April 1, I took Bob in for shots and his annual check-up. The vet said his white blood cell count was high and his red blood cell count was low, but there could be many reasons why, and he offered vitamins to treat him. Late Friday, Bob started having difficulty breathing, so on Saturday we visited the vet again. This time the doctor took ex-rays, which revealed a growth the size of a softball inside the cat.??Although he had diabetes, we had managed it well, and there were no serious complications due to it; this was just the cancer of a 16-year-old cat who had lived a robust life and was so strong that he had shown no signs of it in him until the very end.

Our vet was clearly shocked that Bob could have such enormous cancer not affect him until it was literally pressing against his diaphragm and bladder. We put him in the oxygen tank, and the vet suggested he stay overnight, but we said no, we’d rather bring him home. The vet said to prepare to say good-bye, but we were still processing the news that Bob was sick.??He rode in the car on my lap, happy and quiet. When we got home, the breathing problems started again. He went outside for a little while and laid in the flower garden, his favorite place. Then he came inside. Walking became more problematic, but he was able to get himself to heat lamps. We’d offer him water, which he drank gingerly, and prepared his favorite foods (salmon and cheese), but he wasn’t hungry. We brought blankets downstairs to sleep with him, but his breathing got worse, and as I was falling asleep about 1am, he started a trek that would end with him upstairs under the bed — the place he went whenever he needed to get away from it all. That final journey must have taken all of his remaining energy.??Eyes open, mouth open, in a position that looked like he was resting on his side, sometime around 4am on Easter Sunday 4/4, Bob left us.

I am struck by how many times in his last few hours, despite being exhausted and barely able to breathe, he would let us pet him and purr as loudly as he could. We had no idea he was about to die; he just seemed tired and in need of rest. But he must have known he was dying. And yet, he was a big believer in being here now. He was a big believer in showing his love, until the very end.

As I went about my daily routine yesterday and today, I was struck by how many times during a typical day I would interact with Bob. Feeding him, talking with him, carrying him, letting him out, letting him in, petting him, hugging him, snuggling him.
I also am trembling at the thought that I lived with Bob longer than I lived with my brother or sister: 16 years. That’s almost as long as I lived with my parents. If I was used to sixteen years of hugs from him, it’s no wonder that a day without him feels like something is missing. It’s a reminder that missing is a part of living.

I truly appreciate all of the kind words my friends on Facebook and Twitter have offered to help assuage the pain of losing someone I cared deeply about. Why do we feel such pain upon loss? So we can be there for others when they grieve. Some of my favorites:

1. Kelli Trent said that “animals awaken our souls and love us unconditionally“, and I really love those words. (Much Facebook love??for Bob; RIP, buddy)
2. Soyeun Choi said, “The pain we feel is proportional to the love we give and get.
3. Chris Smith said, “I remember when Alison and I cat-sat Bob and Beavis the weekend you went out of town to propose to Michelle. To get the photo of your cats looking right at me (I hope you still have it!), I had to repeatedly put the bowl of milk down, and then snatch it away so they’d look at me like, “WTF”? Of course, they couldn’t speak, so it was more like, “Mmmm….”” (Of course I still have it!)
4. YiShiMcGee said, “…But I tend to think of it like the end of the Little Prince: That Bob is on his own planet, sniffing roses now.” (She lost Chili, much condolences.)

I will think of Bob often, and the lessons he taught me:

1. Be aggressive when defending those you love.
2. Get plenty of sleep every day.
3. Truly enjoy your food.
4. Breathe. Steal an hour to sniff the flowers.
5. Hug your friends whenever they need it.
6. Lead without fear; live with conviction.
7. Be here now. Live in the moment. Show your love.

Bob loved cars, and he loved road trips. So I cut a little bit of his hair and whiskers, to keep in my Bob scrapbook to take with me on my next road trip… Next week.

With Bob in my heart and mind and memory book, at 2am next Tuesday April 13, I am getting into an ’89 Toyota Ca
mry with 180k miles on it, with Joyce as my co-pilot, and we are going to drive down to Santa Monica for breakfast. Immediately after that, we will take off on the 10, and take a road trip coast-to-coast, across the 10, across the USA, through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, to Jacksonville, Florida. More on that in another blog post.

For now, my dear Bob, I think of you.

Mr. Bob, King Bob, my dear dear friend, I hope you rest in peace, and I will remember you always. I love you.


  1. That was very beautiful, Adam.

    Comment by yishimcgee — April 5, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

  2. Wonderfully said! I’m sorry I didn’t meet him. May he rest in peace.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 5, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

  3. I’m so sorry you lost your friend. Bob was a very special soul and your eulogy does him proud. I’ve been fortunate to have fur friends all my life, as well, and while I loved them all, there are a couple whom I still miss to this day. Adam, I know that the suddenness of losing a loved one can just take your breath away. If I may say so — and I hope you understand my meaning — it sounds like Bob died as he lived. He was right there, living to the fullest, until he wasn’t anymore. No mamby-pamby wasting-away-on-a-sickbed stuff for Bob. In a way, he loved life too much for that kind of ending.Enjoy your trip. Bob will be purring right along with you. 😉

    Comment by Anonymous — April 6, 2010 @ 12:26 am

  4. Hang in there.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 6, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

  5. This is so moving. I’m sorry I never got to meet him.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 8, 2010 @ 1:30 am

  6. Thank you, everyone!

    Comment by Anonymous — November 13, 2010 @ 3:09 am

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