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Harry, Lavender Tank Tops, and Thumbs Up

July 31, 2012
Harry the Cat

Harry had an abscess, dental surgery, pain killers, and came home with his purr volume turned up. Joy!

My cat Harry had an abscess on his face. Left cheek. Big. The first day he just looked a little puffy. The next day it made his eye close a little bit. We took a trip to the vet where they robbed me of my retirement lanced his cheek and drained his puss filled cheek. Infection. They told me he had some tooth issues. Bring him back Thursday.

We’re going out of town on Saturday for a week. Can I wait until I return?

The look of death appears on the vet’s face.

No. He’s in a lot of pain. We’re squeezing in an emergency surgery for him. Bring him in at 7:45 in the morning. We’ll call you when he’s done.

Thursday. Tyler’s company picnic in the afternoon. Everyone apologizes to me about the weather here and I ache inside I miss New Orleans so much. It’s a sunny day, that Thursday, maybe the nicest we’ve had. I’m wearing jeans, long sleeves and a scarf. Freezing.

I get a traffic ticket on the way from the picnic to the vet hospital to visit Harry who has had 4 extractions and 2 crown amputations. I was going down a hill, 38 in a 25. I thought it was 35. I cried and felt really sorry for myself. Why is the speed limit 25 everywhere? I say to my boyfriend on the phone that I hate this town. Again. I rant about how in New Orleans you can speed and run stop signs and do whatever you want because there is so much crime the police don’t care about almost-law-abiding citizens.

I arrive at Wheaton Way Vet Hospital and I’m bawling. Poor Harry. Poor me.

The surgeon comes out and smiles at me. Three nurses have already consoled me, told me how great Harry did, how much speeding tickets suck, how everything’s going to be alright. The surgeon tells me that Harry’s pain was an 8 out of 10, that a big infected root was in the hole of the abscess, and that he’d come home a different cat.

I choke out that they’ve been so nice to me and my cat, that I’m new to town and having a hard time getting adjusted. He looks through me, this man who is close to my age, and says matter of factly that I need to connect here. I’m missing something in my life and I need to find a connection other than my partner. That’s not enough. They do a feed for the homeless on Mondays in the parking lot there. There are boys and girls homes in town, places to volunteer. He laments that people are so disconnected in the world despite how connected they are through the internet and smart phones. He tells me to find a place to connect, to help, that I can’t go from teaching in New Orleans to being a stay at home lady friend in the Pacific Northwest. Something is missing.

After rubbing on my cat for 20 minutes, I leave Harry there for medical boarding. He’ll live there while we’re gone, doped up on pain killers and getting lots of love from all the sweet nurses. I drive home to Tyler who must have a heart the size of the ocean to deal with my moodiness, my longing for the city that I belong to, and my decisions to sacrifice 5 years worth of shoe funds to care for my ailing kitty. I feel frustrated that I feel sorry for myself. (This is an ongoing battle.) For what is there to feel sorry? I have it all, and I don’t even believe that someone can have it all. But I do.

I’m quiet. I sit in the backyard drinking a glass of wine recounting the events from the afternoon. I try to explain them all to Tyler who is the best listener but if you don’t know what it means to miss New Orleans, it’s hard to explain. If the cat hasn’t been yours for the last 11 years, your little fur partner in crime in all your silent moments at home alone, it’s hard to explain. I came here for a reason, the biggest and best reason, but I am disconnected.

Illahee State Park

Illahee State Park is just a few minutes from our house. Top-notch scenery and people watching.

The next day, we go out to Illahee State Park in the late afternoon to pick up the crab traps that Tyler dropped that morning. (I’m wearing jeans, a flannel shirt, and a sweatshirt over it. It’s July.) As I’m standing at the top of the long pier, I see a man stretching.


I know someone in town!

Hey, Sunny. How’s your cat?

Stan teaches ab class at the YMCA. Ab class if full of in-shape retirees, a man named Mike who is obsessed with Irish people, a midget named Frank, and me and Tyler. The loud conversation among the attendees is Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Greek yogurt. Stan wears bike shorts that are a little too worn through that when he spreads his cheeks to do reverse crunches, it leaves nothing-and-I-mean-nothing to the imagination. No, I cannot stop myself from looking. Stan makes the same jokes every class. He always looses count of crunches. He does Tai Chi in the park.

I tell him how Harry is doing and he gives me a thumbs up at least 6 times. I wonder if he has a wife. I tell Tyler we should have him over for dinner. Stan.

I turn to see a 70-ish-year-old woman teetering in her mountain climbing boots and ankle braces. She’s wearing a knee-length lavender tank top with a sail boat scene over her calf-length shorts. Something around her neck that hangs down into her shirt is giving her a third waist-level boobs. Her hair is cut short at the bottom but the top is clipped up in a claw on top of her head. She squeaks out her story to a man in an old white Chevy pick-up truck who gave me some peach hand sanitizer from his chest pocket.

She cackles after every statement. And pauses.

There is a little goat that lives back there! Ha! We don’t have to walk the road to go home. We cut through those trailers over there. Ha! Those people have a goat in the yard. Ha! That little goat has horns about this big. That goat rammed her butt! Ha! I told them they need to get something to put on those horns. They’re gonna hurt someone! Ha!

Sunny Dawn Summers

Reflection of reflecting.

I get in the truck to go home. Reflecting. In a quiet, constant state of reflection. I am going through withdrawals of the insanity of the school year. Nothing matters as much as those kids, but everything seems to be inflamed. Even when things aren’t wrong, I can find wrong.

I thrive on oddities– easily why I love New Orleans. I have everything including too much self-pity. I need nothing, except more weird encounters, more connections. More goats ramming people, more lavender tank tops, more of Stan’s thumbs up, more of Harry’s purring and kitty biscuits.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb permalink
    July 31, 2012 7:32 pm

    I love this, Sunny! Glad Harry is better. Leaving a place and job you love is ΓΌber tough…but I have no doubt that u will attract interesting people and activities in your life. Hope you weren’t too worried about Harry to enjoy the beach vacation. Xx, deb

  2. August 1, 2012 8:41 am

    Change is hard – no matter if it’s good or bad. And, frankly, that weather sounds delightful. I sweated through EVERYTHING yesterday while running errands.

  3. August 2, 2012 5:46 am

    thinking of you! love the reflection caption πŸ™‚

  4. August 4, 2012 8:29 pm

    Hello Sunny,
    Since I have google alerts for our hospitals names, I was blessed to be able to read your blog.

    I was delighted to see Harry’s abscess (cellulitis) has already fully resolved. Cute little guy still has his “battle scars” visible from his clipped fur from the left cheek. I’ve been on an RV trip with my family along the beautiful Oregon Coast to the Redwoods in CA since the day after Harry’s surgery. This is why we had to “fit him in” because I tend to perform more of the “complicated” surgeries and knowing I would be gone for 11 days (our first family vacation in 3.5 years with 6, 8, and 11 year old daughters who need some undivided mommy and daddy time much like the children you have so diligently served over the many years). Interestingly enough, we were scheduled to leave Fri morning which we had to postpone because I had to do an emergency ultrasound on a Schnauzer named Lucien in my Tacoma practice and the exact same surgery Harry had on a dog with bilaterally fractured carnassial teeth…the left was exactly and severely abscessed with her left eye completely shut. While her surgery went well, it was complicating a time consuming (took 3 hours). I am grateful for a very patient and understanding wife and family. And also grateful to know that they and me learned long ago that the furry critters we treat are only part of our job in love and service to our friends and neighbors! πŸ™‚

    I hope my comments and attempts at words of encouragement weren’t conveyed as such! Quite frankly it’s none of my business, but it pains me to see sadness, despair, and frustration in people. If that means I need to take a risk, then I choose to pursue it with the goal of putting my heart and genuine care in the right place at the right time. I especially hope that my observations of your gifts and the need for those gifts of service weren’t meant in lieu of your plans here in the Pacific NW. I want nothing more than for your to achieve your dreams and the peace that comes with that, whatever they may be! As told to you before, I am happy to assist with however you’d like! πŸ™‚

    Signing off from 101’F McMinville, OR… taking the girls to an Air & Space Museum and WaterPark…then back to Bremerton, WA (our dream place ;)) to get back to work, (strikethrough) “robbing people of their retirements”, helping the furry critters we all love so much! πŸ˜‰ I hope your doing well, see you at Harry’s recheck. –Dr. Dave

    • August 5, 2012 11:26 am

      Dr. Dave, our conversation was a treat for me. I hope I conveyed that in my writing. It was just what I needed to hear to plug myself in correctly here. Every day is better, and finding connections is exactly what I need to do. Our conversation was a catalyst for turning my face to the sun.

      And Harry is so happy now thanks to you.

      Enjoy your trip!


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