This winter a cat showed up on our porch. It was very skinny and had short hair so I started calling it Skinny Cat. We felt sorry for this cat and began to feed it. We even made it a little box to sleep in, which it liked, and used when it was very cold. Skinny Cat became a fixture in our yard and porch. Every morning when I go out to walk it was waiting for me to feed it. We considered letting it in the house but it was not very friendly with other cats and didn’t like our indoor cat. Despite gladly taking whatever food we would give it, Skinny Cat was very independent and didn’t like being picked up. She could occasionally be very friendly, and sometimes be the most affectionate cat I’ve ever seen.
Skinny Cat really loved our basement and tried to sneak in all the time, often when I let her in she would become super happy purr like crazy and try to rub its face all over my face.
Skinny Cat died last night in our basement.
When we returned home from our recent trip it took Skinny Cat a couple days to start hanging around again. On Thursday it came to our porch to eat but it hissed at us whenever we got close to it. When it scratched at me I swatted it away. As it left the porch I noticed it was walking a bit funny, its back legs seemed to be sore.
Over the next couple of days I noticed that it was getting worse. Saturday morning I was talking to Luke in my back yard. It was the last time I saw him before he left for the Great West and Tour Divide. While we were talking he started chuckling. From his vantage point he saw a driver in the alley get out of their car and throw a rock at Skinny Cat, who was laying in the alley and refused to move for the car. The rock hit her and Skinny Cat hobbled into our back yard its back legs barely working and it fell down several times.
Saturday night we brought Skinny Cat into our basement since it was crawling around our yard. I was sure it had been hit by a car, but when I looked her over I could find no damage. Skinny Cat hissed at us and tried to drive us off, but gave up and just laid down and then ate some food.
Sunday morning I we went to the basement and couldn’t find Skinny. I laid down on the floor and it came crawling out from behind some boxes. Her entire rear seemed paralyzed and she dragged herself with her front claws across the carpet. She dug a claw into my sleeve and arm and pulled her head up into my chest and began to purr and urged me to pet her. That’s when I knew that she was dying. We laid there for a long time and eventually I had to pull her claw away.
We vistited her several more times Sunday and she would always try to look at us and purr when we came down, but the last time we visited her she could barely raise her head. Shauna found her dead this morning. When I left for my walk this morning I was very sad not to see Skinny Cat waiting for me on the porch, but I’m at least glad she was able to spend her last couple days in a place she liked with people who cared for her.
A man from nearby Galatia was hit while riding his bike on the Hamburg road a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t going to write a post about it, but found myself drawn out to where he was hit on a ride a few days ago. Scott Patrick was a retired coal miner who worked with my friend Mike at American Coal, where he was known as “Spongebob” he was 55 and had retired early because he had back problems. Mr. Patrick had found cycling was helping him loose weight and recover from his injuries and was enjoying it so much he recently bought at nice Trek bike.
Hamburg road is an excellent stretch of road for riding, its smooth, wide, surrounding by fields and almost in the middle of nowhere. When I rode it I saw two cars, it is not the kind of road I would expect to get ran over on.
I stopped and took pictures of the paint marks the state police had left on the road, identifying the front wheel, back wheel, a shoe, and eventually the body of the man. 100 Feet up the road a long line said TRUCK. The truck was driven by Lee McKinnies, a 58 year old man, whom I’ve been told had recently suffered severe medical problems, could not walk without a walker, and had been ordered not drive. Mr. McKinnies was probably at the limit of his abilities to just keep the large truck on the road and either didn’t see or was unable to react to the cyclist.
I didn’t know Mr. Patrick, and yet as cyclists we share a bond, odds are good that we would have crossed paths if he continued to ride. I always tell people that cycling on roads is very safe, in fact I recently told a man I met on the rail trail how safe it is to ride the nearly empty roads North of town. That will be harder to say now.
Comments about this story on a newspaper website from across the state claim cycling on public roads should be a crime, and blame the cyclists for not being visible enough to drivers. This is the usual response I fear, somehow when a cyclist is hit from behind its their fault. Oddly the opposite thing seems to happen to motorcyclists. There is a big campaign funded by the Department of Transportation to remind drivers to “Start Seeing Motorcycles.” I suppose its because motorcycling is much more popular than cycling, and far more dangerous, but it still aggravates me, especially considering that only about half of motorcycle deaths involve another vehicle. How many bicycle deaths don’t involve the cyclist getting hit by another vehicle, not that many. Don’t get me wrong, motorcyclists are hit by careless drivers, and it warrants everyone’s attention, but don’t cyclists warrant the same attention as well.
I’ll be thinking about Skinny Cat and Mr. Patrick as I ride. Anytime you devote yourself to something, whether it be a pet, a person or a pastime there’s always the danger it’ll be taken away from you, or you from it. It’s these loses that remind us to love the time we have.