Sunday, July 11, 2021

St. Mary's is closing

I realized a few years ago that what I've been doing with this blog all the while is documenting a passing world. Now it's been officially announced that yet another part of that world is passing away.

I have documented St. Mary's, its church, school, and associated buildings, from the very earliest days of this blog. I hope I can share some of those memories with others who will miss the church they grew up in.

Babusz, Summer 2006 - July 10, 2021

Babusz died at 10:45 in the morning on Saturday, July 10, 2021.

Cats are creatures of habit, and changes in habit can indicate a problem. Around Christmas this year - not long before Homer died - my mom placed a box on a generally-disused rocker in our parlor, a few feet from the spot where I have my temporary work station set up. It was a gift box that had contained pears and cheese shipped by one of her friends at Christmastime. It's a nice box, sturdy, about the size and shape of a thick attache case, and the plan was to use it to store Christmas ornaments or decorations. But Babusz had other ideas. She quickly claimed the box as her own, enjoying the slight flexibility of the lid that allowed her to comfortably lounge there for hours at a time. She also enjoyed pulling at the edges, not with her claws out, but more like she was massaging the pads of her paws. While I worked she would sometimes squirm around on the box and emit little "look at me" vocalizations, though she never wanted  - or permitted - me to pet her.

That stopped sometime in late May or early June. Suddenly she was no longer on her box. Nor did she spend any more time on the parlor couch, another favorite lounging spot. Instead she went into hiding, under a chair on one corner of the room or an endtable on another. She would stealthily emerge several times a day, race to use the litterbox, and then return to her hiding spot.

This went on for two weeks. Then, gradually, she began to re-emerge. She would go back to her box on the chair for a few minutes at a time several times a day, but would quickly return to her hiding spot. She also began making appearances in the parlor bow window, having laid claim to one corner of it. She seemed to especially enjoy being there at sunset, and would sometimes spend part of the night there.

It took about another two weeks for her to resume spending most of her time in the window or on her box on the rocker, and very little time in hiding. But now it became apparent that she was losing weight.

My mom tried to introduce tempting new foods into her diet to try to convince her to eat, but nothing really impressed her. A visit to the vet confirmed our worst fears: cancer. Nothing to be done. The vet offered to euthanize her on the spot. But at this point Babusz was still a vital, active cat. Aside from the lack of enthusiasm for food and recent hiding behavior, she did not seem to be in any pain or distress. After some cajoling, the vet agreed to send us home with an appetite stimulant and a hydration kit.

That was a week and a half ago. Babusz continued to lose weight since then. But she also continued to go where she wanted to go and do what she wanted to do, to spend time on her box or in her window, to continue to use her favorite litterbox. Even last night I found her in her spot on the window. Getting there required jumping onto a chair, climbing onto the back, and crossing over onto the windowsill. That's where she was when I went to bed.

This morning my mom found Babusz on the kitchen floor by the waterbowls. She was breathing but unresponsive. She continued like that for several more hours. She died in my mom's arms at 10:45 AM.

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The United States did not achieve President Biden's goal of having 70% of all eligible Americans getting at least their first COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, 2021, a failure the Republicans at CPAC (the second CPAC convention this year) are currently celebrating. Vaccine refusal rates correspond fairly well with rates of support for Trump in the 2020 election. Some states and broad regions have very low vaccination rates - 40% or less - and are seeing increasing rates of infection. Already their ERs are filling up and needing to take the same drastic measures that were widespread in the pre-vaccine days. Meanwhile, the "Delta variant," a faster-spreading, more aggressive mutation of COVID-19 has become the dominant version of COVID in the United States (as has previously happened in other countries) and is allegedly responsible for infections among those who had already received a vaccine.