Thursday, September 5, 2013

'Something You Somehow Haven't to Deserve' - Remembering Theo

'Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.'
Theo in the old house
'I should have called it Something you somehow haven't to deserve.' 
-- Robert Frost, from The Death of the Hired Man 


Ryan on Theo's grave



'Theo' was short for Theodorus.  Theodorus is an old Greek name meaning "gift of god" - from the Greek words, θεος (Theos) "God", and δωρον (doron) "gift".

Theo, my gift from God

From there I nicknamed him Thirio, meaning 'strong beast' in Greek.  I am like a mockingbird.  I never stop making variations on names for the cats.  Their names are a continuum that eventually turn into songs.


I did a lot of paintings of Theo.  I did one with some of these nicknames for him.  I sometimes called him Teddy Bear, because he was like a Teddy Bear. 

Theo was one of the kittens Sammy's daughter fed while she was here.  When she left she asked me to look after him and his family, who I named the Davis Family, because I had named his Mom Bette Davis.

Bette Davis, Theo's mom

So I fed them there, checking on them every day.  Until they all disappeared. 

I continued to put food out at Sammy's anyway because I knew other cats fed there.  One day I was thrilled but panicked when Minnow, Theo's sister, came around the corner of the house, small and alone.  She looked defeated, dejected.  She was pitiful, limping, her front leg broken and savaged with bite marks.  I brought her home and Nik took her to the vet.  The vets splinted her leg with a tight wrap, one she never failed to extricate herself from like Houdini a strait jacket.  She was condemned to a small carrier for a time where she wouldn't be able to move around too much.

But still, no Bette, no Theo at Sammy's.  What happened to them?

Minnow, Theo's sister, with her broken and savaged leg, getting treated by vets George and Christina

I was so happy the day Theo surfaced again.  He was still a kitten then, even though it seemed like a long time later .  One day he leaped triumphantly over my fence from my neighbor's yard, like Don Quixote, full of challenge, bluster, and adventure, delighting in the advantage of surprise he had over me.  I was confused because I didn't know he knew where I lived.  I wasn't far from Sammy's, but still.  Had he been watching me?  Since he had disappeared, I had worried sick about him.  Especially after what had happened to Minnow. 

Bette, their Mom, was the last to reappear.  She showed up outside the house one night with an abscessed tooth, drooling and unable to eat. I thought she had been poisoned.  The tooth was extracted.

Minnow was small, and remains a small cat; Theo, on the other hand, grew up to be big and stocky, not cut, but muscular, with a broad head and shoulders and a full and silky, even juicy feel, like a mango.  Mangos are my favourite fruit.   I eventually drew him as a mango.  I drew Theo a lot.  He was always close by.  He was always near my lap when I was drawing. 

Theo's sister, Minnow, is still a small cat, while Theo was husky

Theo stayed in the garden all that day, the day of his triumphant leap over the fence.  He eventually curled up on Nik's chest  in the back garden and started purring.  He had no problem later just walking in the house to meet the other cats.

Theo inspired mixed feelings in Nik.  Nik nicknamed him 'Theo Underfoot', because he was always as a kitten underfoot.  Though there was some affection in the name, I sensed some annoyance, too, causing me to become Theo's protector, defender, and champion. 

Nik nicknamed Theo "Theo Underfoot"

Maybe it was overprotection that caused Theo to become such a Momma's boy.  Or maybe it was his Greek name that inspired him to behave like a good Greek son.  I don't know, but between me and Bette and Minnow, Theo had all he needed.  He never played with any of the male, or female cats, for that matter, outside his immediate family and gene pool, very much like many Cypriots. 

Theo loved his Mom, Bette

A familiar sight, Theo loving on his Mom, Bette, on the couch

He and his mama Bette would lay on the couch for hours licking each other affectionately.  Bette was not nearly so interested in her little Minnow, in fact she was kind of mean to her.  But I often found Theo and Minnow curled up the same way as Bette and Theo,  I just rarely saw all three together.  Minnow learned to become wary of her capricious mom. 

It was OK that Theo didn't make other friends, Minnow provided Theo with lots of play, and they would tear through the old house with abandon, breaking lamps and whatever else was in their paths

In fact, Minnow is still breaking stuff.  She broke my lamp by the front door two days ago.

Theo's sister, Minnow,... I call her Mini, fast and small, she and Theo broke a lot of stuff together

Minnow and the lamp she just broke; that's little Olive below her 

A sweet sight, siblings Theo and Minnow sleeping together on the couch

I got so used to seeing them this way, I drew Minnow and Theo as one great mass.

As Theo started to grow big, Minnow became a little iffy about their games and took to shrieking when Theo wanted to play.  It was in that way Theo lost his playmate.  No matter, she would still lie with him on the couch sometimes, and he still had his two moms, his best gals, Bette and me. 

Theo and Morris took a problematic dislike to one another.  I don't know why.  Morris was a smidge older than Theo, but they were both male, ginger and white, and I guess they had too much in common.  All heck broke loose if one caught the other in the litter box.  Now that I think about it, maybe that was the problem between Nik and Theo.  Maybe they were too much alike.  I have the same problems now with Twigs and Giblet. 

Morris - He and Theo weren't wild about each other
Theo, too many similarities with Morris to get along?

Twigs stalking Giblet

Theo laid on the couch with me the same way he did with Bette.  Wherever he was, he always looked up at me with an expression I have been wracking my brain to define, but I can't.  It was in the end pure Theo, only his own.  It was intense, it was pleading, it was devoted, it was fixed, it was innocent, and it was all these other things I can never explain.

pure Theo

He would occasionally take a swipe at another cat.  It was so out of character with the look on his face, that it always surprised me.  After, he would look up at me, at the least, with complete innocence, as if he if did not understand he had just done something aggressive, and, at the most, like he had done his second best girl, me, a favour.  Like this:

"But... it was for us, I did it for us."

The only look I can even compare to Theo's was my old dog Gracie's.  Gracie was in love with me.  I have had many dogs but Gracie was the only one who ever 100% chose me.  

Gracie loved me.  I loved her, too. 

 Maybe, like Gracie, Theo just loved me. 

Maybe he just loved me.

Whatever it was, I never felt worthy of it, and, yet, maybe, it was something I didn't have to deserve.

Theo looking out from the old balcony enclosure

It was right after I took this next picture that Theo disappeared.  I can't remember how long he was gone.  A week?  Two weeks?  My life is a blur of 36, 48 hour days, litter boxes, water bowls, thickets catching my hair, aching knees, long runs to the vet, mosquito bites, an overheating car, and not nearly enough sleep.  I hoped that maybe, like Astro, if Theo had been hit by a car, he would only have suffered minor injuries and would eventually lug himself back and all would be well but a slight limp.... just like Astro.  I prayed. 

The last time I saw Theo healthy.  He disappeared after this picture

He did lug himself back one day.  I opened the front door and there he was.  I was over the moon, stunned, pinching myself.  Then I saw him walking funny.  I called the emergency clinic in Larnaca.  She asked me to describe his injury and then told me it wasn't an emergency.  It was a holiday at the time.  Her vets told me when they finally saw him that it indeed had been an emergency.  Theo couldn't peepee.  He was in distress.  

The vets told me he was better and sent him home.  He was better for a while.  Then he got worse.  When I finally saw another vet it was diagnosed as diabetes, not a car injury at all. 

Theo became very ill
Theo was hungry every fifteen minutes.  The only food he would eat was expensive.  I had to ward off the other cats and put him in the bathroom to eat.  These were labor intensive days that I will treasure the rest of my life.  When someone is sick and you are caring for them you bond with them in a way like no other.

Theo couldn't handle the long journeys back and forth in the hot car to the vets.  They eventually took their toll and he grew worse.  I stayed up with him on his final night in this world.

I had just stepped in the other room when I heard him utter his last cries.  I ran in.  He was just leaving.  I called to him, and called to him, even after I suspected he was gone.  It's hard to let go. 

I picked him up and took him to my bed, laid him there, and continued to hope.  I sang him the song I use to sing to him when I knew he was hungry again....I sang him...

Tay-o, Ta ay-o,...Tay-o, Ta-ay-o,...Tay-o, Ta-ay-o, Tay-o with Tay-o

Ron helped me bury Theo.  He told me he would bring me a cross to put on Theo's grave.  Ron was good for his word because one day I went outside and there it was.  He had slipped in quietly unbeknownst to me and placed it there.

Ryan lying on Theo's grave, with the cross Ron brought.  Theo's sister Minnow is in the foreground

I still miss Theo every day.  He was gallant right up until the end.  What heartiness he lost in body he maintained in spirit, and that is how I will always remember him: hearty, thick, strong, a juicy hunk of love.  He never stopped looking at me the way he did, even at the end. 

I’ll sit and see if that small sailing cloud

Will hit or miss the moon.’ 



 It hit the moon.

Then there were three there, making a dim row,

The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.

-- Robert Frost, from The Death of the Hired Man 

Bette, Minnow, and me... in the olive grove


 Thank you, Theo.  I love you. 

Awww,...Ryan  :)

Ryan knows, Theo is only asleep, he'll be back

We'll see you soon Theo.  :)

PS  While I was writing this post, Ryan has disappeared.  Please pray he is safe and he comes back.  I find myself absentmindedly calling Vincent Theo these days.  They are related through Bette, Tweets, Big Van, and Twigs.  I see something of Theo's spirit in him. 

Vincent, Theo's great nephew, has something of Theo's spirit

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