Monday, January 14, 2008

Lukey 1991-2008

He was the greatest. King of Lukey's garden, chaser of squirrels, corn on the cob eater, chirpy chirper, best cat brother, connesieur of grasshopper drumsticks, kitchen kitty, two legged dancer, master of the monkey paw, couch cuddler...


Jay Geldhof said...

Awww, sorry to hear it, Kid.
We just lost our cat, Stubby last week.
It's no fun when they go, but Lukey had a nice long run. Give Arch, a scritch for me.

Miko said...

absolute cuteness. =(

Elayne said...

My condolences, Jill. He looked like a very sweet kitty.

Jill Thompson said...

thanks, everyone. We are so empty here. We brought him home so he could be in his garden that he loved.
That picture was taken this summer. He was the handsomest, smartest fellow and I am lucky that he chose me to take care of him. He was a great cat brother and Brian's bestet bud. You should have heard his lovely voice. He would play tag and he was the only cat who knew what to do with the fake mouse, cuz he once lived outside when he was a minicat.

Jim said...

Always glad to see an outdoors cat- their natural habitat. There is an older feline at my parents and it never seems that he lives up to his age.
Take care.

Dan Guy said...

Requiscat in Pace, Lukey...

cheryl said...

He was a most excellent fur. Lucien mon petit. xo.

Tony Akins said...

This is very very sad news, doll. I know that you and Brian are heartbroken. He was a great cat.
Elizabeth is sad, too. Emmy, our cat, extends the love paw.

Anonymous said...

Wish I had your direct e-mail. Sorry I missed you during mh recent Chicago stop. Manilow sez hi!

So sorry to hear about Lukey. See below (no need to leave in your comments, it is long but wasn't sure you could access it at

I think you've already seen

Back to resume submissions! Gotta get a better job.

R.I.P. Reba the Condo Kitty
(Earlier version originally printed in NE Dallas Co. Record)

It never fails. I'll be updating someone on the status of my family — Roll call: Mom

(nearby), Dad (dead), sister (moved), niece (taller than me and always will be) — then we'll get

sidetracked on my wonderful niece, her youth and my lack thereof.

Jessica is 16-1/2 and that seems to please a lot of folk, though I feel it mostly serves to make

me look bad. After all, numbers do not lie, and if she is 16-1/2 then that makes me....well,

that old and then some.

She'll probably be even older when you read this. (I know I will be — and it ain't pretty.)

I think she does it on purpose.

It's the "then some" on my own age where I tend to lose track. Numbers that large should

normally be reserved for figures more akin to the national debt than a birthday card for Aunt

Mary, right?

Two other names usually pop up, as well. And one of them is "Reba."

I'll mention in passing, "And Reba did the cutest thing…
"REBA!" my confidante will fairly shriek. "Is SHE still around?"

I've told my niece about this phenomena and we both had a good laugh. After all, Reba the condo

kitty and my sports lovin' niece are the same age, mind you.

Yet no one ever says, "JESSICA! Is SHE still around?"
Jess gets this completely — proving we are related, after all.

Yes, Reba is fairly old for a cat, and first came to me when she was about a year old. The

mother and daughter had taken on a man with a dog and Reba was no longer welcome. They couldn't

even agree on whether her name was Muffin or Kiki (which I guessed to be 6 year old speak for


I suppose she had never been out of the house before, and now she was with me. It is no wonder

that she was scared and spent much of her time under the bed hissing.

It took days before I actually saw her, and then when she finally came out, she was mistrustful

and distant. She lived her life, watching me and the people on the street — and I lived mine.

It came time for me to move into a condo. She was the last trip, and spent much of the first day

in the bathroom. When I finally opened the door, she looked genuinely surprised to see me...and

perhaps a little bit grateful. Slowly, tremulously, tenderly and with trepidation, as is her

nature, she walked up to me and laid her head on my leg, as if to say, "I'm glad you're still

here." We bonded right then and there.

Of course, she was never fond of change, so it was with great misgivings that I prepared to

bring her here to Iowa several years later. Although she screamed and spit the proverbial pea

soup in my direction in her first introduction to her travel cage, she calmly accepted things

once she saw my dad at the wheel.

She was inordinately fond of men, my father in particular. Something about his smell, I think.

Whenever Dad would come visit, his size 13 work boots, with his self-installed zipper on the

side, would be splayed open next to the front door.

Reba was fond of sticking her entire head in as deep as it would go and just taking a big whiff,

before pulling out and somewhat stumbling in the heady joy of it all.

It takes all kinds.

In Madrid, Reba was valuable during a tougher than expected transition. She was a welcome

reminder of my past in Chicago, a reminder of what had been.

It didn't all seem so long ago with my companion Reba purring by my side.

Yes, Reba is fairly old for a cat. Well, she was...

I had grand plans to conquer the world that January day. However, it ended much differently than

I had thought. That was Reba's last morning when I found her lying in a "puddle."

Strange, I thought. She's never been one to drool. But it wasn't drool.
Luckily, I had comp time to use up, and was able to cancel my original plans. I spent

the day with her instead.

I cleaned her up as best I could and wrapped her up in some old, soft towels left over from

another caregiving experience and saved for just such an occasion.
The plan was to hold and comfort her, but Reba is no demure lap kitty. Sure, she's good

for an Eskimo kiss or two, but then she wants down and she'll tell you every reason why with her

strange meow.

She never felt safe, I think, no matter how I held her or where I placed my hands. I

expected the same struggle as in the past.

"Yes, yes. I know," was my standard reply. "It must be rough to be loved."

And then I'd put her down. But there was no struggle this day.

We cuddled throughout the afternoon. I whispered sweet nothings in her ear, and wondered who

would be there to clean me up, swaddle and cuddle me when the time came.

Around 2:30 p.m. she started having seizures that were like hiccups. She went through periods of

breathing rapidly through her mouth, then seemed to recover. Then it would start over. Around 3

p.m. I bundled her up and made what I thought would be her final trip to the local vet.

Eschewing the safety belt, I drove with her in my left arm.

I know she was sick because, again, normally she would have nearly wrenched my arm from its

socket rather than get in my moving litter box, the scene of so much earlier heartbreak and

veterinarian trips.

I was shocked when I arrived at the vet. The note on the door said "out to lunch." I hadn't

considered this wrinkle.

I called the number and was promised they would get back to me.

We went home to wait. Reba and I had been inseparable all day, but now I finally put her down to

rest so I could try to eat. She didn't move much, then surprised me by getting up, limber as

ever. I left the room and returned to find her half on and half off the slight step in the


She was in bad shape.
Frankly, I was worried the vet would try to talk me out of what I felt was my final step for

Reba. I really didn't want to argue about it. Making the decision was hard enough. I thought her

time had come. Time passed and still no word from the vet. I called another vet in the next

town to seek information. I then talked to a cousin on the phone, letting Reba overhear.
I fretted, loudly, about the costs of an office visit, sedative and shot. The fees were

considerable. I had never even considered the cost of cremation for a pet.

My options were dwindling. It was starting to get dark.

There was no other choice. It was time to dig the grave.

Shortly after I came back inside from my ghoulish task, the local vet's office called back and

said they'd be ready for her in about 30 minutes.

I wrapped Reba up one last time and took her out to Dad's swing so she could enjoy the fresh

evening air. About five feet from our backs was the shovel I had used, throwing its shadow

casually against the north side of the house, mocking me.

Reba nestled against my chest as I finished whispering my goofy mantra in her ear.

"Reba's such a PRETTY girl, Reba's such a GOOD girl. (slight pause for effect) Reba's such a

pretty good girl!"

I always acted surprised on that one.

It was our little joke.

However, I never wanted her think that beauty was the only important issue for a girl — even a

girl cat. So I had taken to adding, "Reba's smart too, gonna be a doctor or a lawyer

someday...or an artist or dancer, whatever Reba wants to be."

It was sing-song.
It was familiar...and it was shorter than it seems to you.

I looked down at Reba and her green eyes were alight with the end of her day.

I looked out at the horizon where rich people are constantly building houses just beyond my

grasp. We weren't facing the sunset, but I noticed that the light was fading slowly in the

eastern sky.

Suddenly it occurred to me to look at Reba again. I just realized all of a sudden, something had

changed. It wasn't quite dark out yet, but the light had surely gone from her eyes. They were

uncharacteristically dark, suddenly shrunken, receding back in her skull....lifeless.

Her neck was loose and her head was slumped against me.

I couldn't believe it. I've never heard of a pet dying in your arms. And yet, it occurred to me

that she had gotten so hard of hearing in the last few years, that it was not uncommon for me to

have a hard time rousing her anyway.

Several times I had had to resort to the very tricks a first-time parent uses on a baby to see

if they are still breathing — I'd give her a little poke to see if she was alive.

But this was different.
I was distraught but thought I'd rather be safe than sorry. I made yet another trip to the vet

with Reba in the crook of my left arm. They were expecting us. The vet confirmed my diagnosis.
We came back home a final time.

Reba was curled safely in a box and did not comment as I buried her in the dark.

Reba's passing was upsetting for me, but I feel good knowing I took care of her to the end as I

said I would.

First Dad, now Reba.

It is just mind blowingly amazing how someone, even an animal, can move around one minute and be

lifeless the next.
She is missed. R.I.P. REBA 1/18/06

Jill Thompson said...

Thanks so much for that, Mary. It made me cry. I know how much it hurts to lose a beloved friend. We gave Lukey a fine egyptian burial with much love and all the excellent items he needs to amuse himself in the afterlife. We all miss him so much. Especially Archie. I hate to see him so lonely. Even with us around it is not the same.They were the best of cat brothers. I hope we see LukeyLucan in the warmer weather when his spirit needs to warm itself in the sun.
How can I pass along my e-mail without posting it here? I do not have a myspace anything. Plus, Daryl would like to be able to catch up with you,too.

S.Corey said...

It was a genuine pleasure meeting you at FXCon!

Though I'm sad to have learned of Lukey's passing, knowing you're a friend of felines I feel endeared to your art all the more. Strange connection perhaps, but it's nice to know we have the language of cats in common, and that it undoubtedly slips into your work.
I hope Arch fared well in your absence last weekend (Bugaboo Banzai seems to have recovered).

I keep a blog on Livejournal and, in commiseration I offer an entry written last year regarding the loss of my dear lil' G-hed.

I certainly hope we meet again and in the wake of happier events! Until then...

ShojinStudios said...

Hey Jill, Sorry about Lukey, I stopped over your house wayyy back when and there was a cat you had that didn't come out to see anyone. The only way I got to see his/her furry face was by waiting by the door in order to make him/her think I had left. I don't know if that was Lukey, but I never forgot the fact that you chose to take care and had patience for a little soul like that. Says a lot about a person, I'm sure Lukey saw that in both of you too.