We lost our beloved Mackey, our family pet yesterday. He was part of our life for about 11 years and our kids are particularly saddened by his sudden passing.
Mackey’s real name was Mackinac, named for the island in Michigan where Kara and I got engaged. Before our kids were born, Mackey thought HE was the kid, and that never changed. When we started to stock up on baby items for the impending birth of our first child, Mackey seemed to think they were for him. We’re talking the crib, toys, even a swing.
He was always near our children, and they couldn’t get enough of their spotted and striped friend. Mackey was hugged, tackled, pulled, read to and dressed up, and he never seemed to mind it. We figured if he didn’t like it, he would have left the room and found a place to hide, as cats can easily do. This cat also had a tough, predatory side, that kept our house free of any critters. Read about that here: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/an-old-cat-can-learn-new-tricks/
The tough thing about Mackey’s passing was telling our son and daughter. We were honest about it, and they took this traumatic news as expected: they were bawling. After plenty of tears, Helena told us it was time to plan a funeral, including a trip to A.C. Petersen’s for ice cream to “celebrate Mackey’s life” as she put it. She also wants to tie some tuna to a balloon and send it to heaven.
Losing pets is a part of a life, and I remember when our cat Leo died when I was about 7 and my brother 5. We were devastated and I also recall asking lots of questions about how he met his demise. My mother told us he was hit by a car, so my brother and I insisted on knowing where, when and how, and we sought to blame someone. Must have been the reporter in me.
Years later my mother rid herself of years of undeserved guilt and told us the real story. Leo died in the engine of the car. He had gone there for warmth, and when my mother started the car, with my brother and me in the back seat, he was killed. We were oblivious and later when my parents told us the bad news, they apparently felt that truth was too painful for young children. Now that I am in their shoes, I can’t say I blame them.
Also read about this other chapter in my parenting: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/so-my-daughter-heard-the-f-word/