Flowers for Cousin Jack

Last night, Cousin Jack was by my side as he had been for such a long time.  I prayed, as I have prayed for the last thirteen months, for God to prepare us for the day that Cousin would depart time for Eternity.  Cousin was diagnosed with Dementia February, 2012. The doctor gave him a prescription for the dementia and told me that he would probably improve, but for only about eight months.  We got five months more than expected and although I was beginning to notice a declination, Cousin was doing well.

Yesterday, I came home from PT around four o’clock. Cousin was happy to see me, and he just wanted me to get settled so he could sit in my lap, because he wanted to be with me every moment of every day. I was watching General Hospital when I noticed the Cousin begin to get a little restless. I adjusted him a few times and he got comfortable for a few minutes, but he quickly became restless again, so I sat him on the floor, thinking he might be thirsty.

Cousin’s hind legs were dragging. I thought maybe he had a cramp that would go away in a few minutes, but it didn’t take long to realize that something had happened to him. I scooped him up, and carried him to Robert.  I told Robert that it was time for Cousin Jack to go to Heaven.  Robert wanted to take a look for himself and he knew that this was our last precious moments with Cousin. He called Mother and I called the doctor.  It was 5:30 and the doctor closes at six. We had to move fast because if we didn’t get Cousin to the doctor before six, he would suffer until morning.

Robert drove, and I sat in the back holding the Cousin. He kissed me one last time and Danny started singing “Last Kiss.”  I had it together until then. I told Cousin the same thing that I had been telling him for the last thirteen months.  I told him that he would go to Heaven, and that Michael would be there with Jesus when he arrived.

Dr. Bower was so compassionate.  He is the same doctor who removed Cousin’s cancer in 2008. Dr. Freeman told us in 2008 that Cousin’s cancer was deadly and he had little chance of living more than a few months. That year, I befriended Dr. Ron Mollet, a veterinarian in OKC.  I met  Ron at “The Biting Sow,” in Bricktown. He was a veterinarian by day and a Blues Hound by night.  Ron agreed with Dr. Freeman.  We watched Cousin closely as instructed and he continued to thrive for almost five more years.

Dr. Bower told us that Cousin had a stroke. He said he could treat him if we wanted to try to keep him a little longer.  I said that Dr. Freeman would tell me not to do that.  She would tell me that it’s time to let him go. I know that because she told me in February 2012 that the dementia medicine would give us about eight months but there wasn’t anything we could do to “stop” the inevitable. Dr. Bower understood, and agreed that we were making the best decision for Cousin Jack.

One of the assistants prepared a box for us to carry him home in, because we didn’t have time to get anything together. Dr. Bower gave Cousin a shot to make him fall asleep and told us to say good-bye and that he would return in about five minutes to euthanize Cousin. We had a pleasant last five minutes with the Cousin and he fell asleep in my arms. I was holding him and treasuring the warmth of his body and the beat of his heart.

Dr. Bower and his assistant returned and they said that they would take care of this final act of compassion because he doesn’t know that I am there. I told the doctor that we had been preparing for this day for a long time, and that I promised Cousin that I would hold him during his final moments.  I held him and I cried. I told him that I loved him and I prayed. I told God to make sure that Michael would be there waiting when Cousin arrived.  I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort us, and Dr. Bower gave Cousin the injection. The moment was truly merciful and miraculous.  Cousin was there in my arms so soft and warm and I kept my hand on his heart so that I could linger in the last seconds of his life as long as I could make those seconds last. It wasn’t really seconds. In no more than a second, Cousin left my arms and he was in Heaven in Michael’s arms.

We brought him home, to Old Town North. He was born in Old Town and now he is buried in Old Town. The house where he was born is a few blocks away.  His grave his next to the storm cellar here, on Dearborn.  The apartment where he spent most of his life is only a few feet from the house where he spent his last years.

We have no power over life and death.  Dogs teach us how to love and how to let go. I spent the last thirteen months learning how to let go of Cousin. He expected me to always take care of him and if he was sick, he knew that I would get him help to recover.  I couldn’t do anything about March 21, 2013. That day was always going to be the day that Cousin died.

November 1998 to March 2013. I met him for the first time Christmas Day of 1998.  Taco Bell was selling bobble head chihuahuas that were the exact size that the Cousin was that Christmas.

He loved us so deeply and so genuinely pure. Michael in Cousin are in Heaven and I know that when I see them, that no time will have passed.  Cousin, I miss you and I love you.  I treasured every moment with him. I knew the moments would end.  I held on to the seconds with all of my might, but Cousin’s last day was always going to be March 21, 2013.  I loved him. I am thinking of him now, and I’m smiling.

My Dear Cousin

Cousin Jack and I first met on Christmas Day 1998. At the time I was living in Oklahoma City. Billy and I came to Lawton for Christmas. We stopped by my brother Robert’s house to give him his gift. At the time, I was definitely not an animal person. Only two months earlier in October 1998 a stray cat had befriended Billy. Billy wanted to take him in and I protested because of my allergies. Thankfully Billy won out and that stray cat became our beloved Big who has been with us for over ten years now.
Big helped me to overcome my indifference to animals. Once early on, my friend Paula saved Bigcat’s life when he had a bad leg injury. That’s how I met Paula when we were both operators at Southwestern Bell. I was mildly concerned about Big, but not enough to do anything about it and I didn’t have the money to take him to the vet. Someone at work told Paula my plight and she introduced herself to me and arranged an appointment for Big and paid the vet bill. We have been friends ever since and she is the godmother to all my pets.
So anyway, Robert had recently adopted a baby chihuahua and he was so cute, I would have taken him home with me that day if I could have gotten away with it. He was exactly the size of those little Taco Bell dogs that were all the rage at that time. Robert only had to pay $50 for him with papers because supposedly he wasn’t the quality of the other dogs in the litter or something like that.
Cousin and I grew very close through the years which is kinda strange since I always either lived in Tulsa or OKC while he lived in Lawton. Whenever I came to town, he always greeted me ecstatically and when I would leave Mother told me he would sometimes wait by the door for hours thinking I was coming back. When he was younger, he went nuts when he heard my voice on the phone because he thought I was there and he couldn’t find me. Mother eventually took over the care of Cousin Jack from Robert. She brought him to visit me as often as she could and he spent a lot of time with me in Tulsa and OKC. When I go to Mother’s and I can’t stay long, I try my best to avoid seeing Cousin Jack because he gets upset if I don’t stay and he can’t come with me.
His vet called Mother this morning with grim news. His biopsy came back and his growth is something called Hemangiosarcoma. It is a deadly form of cancer. His doctor also called me because Mother was too distraught to comprehend what she telling her. She told me that his condition is guarded and we need to watch for signs that it is growing internally such as loss of appetite and labored breathing. She said she has never seen this type of cancer on the skin until now. She said that she is certain they were able to remove the entire growth and that the reason the other doctor thought it was superficial is because there wasn’t much blood flow which is a good sign. She thinks it’s possible there isn’t any cancer internally but not likely. She also said that just because Cousin Jack appears healthy that it doesn’t mean he isn’t sick. So we all we can do is watch him and hope that one growth was all there was. This particular vet hasn’t ever seen a dog who lived with this type of cancer. She doesn’t recommend chemo and we agree. He’s ten years old and he doesn’t need to go through such a traumatic ordeal when it will not likely prolong his life.
My new friend, Dr. Ron was kind enough to talk to me about it. You may meet Dr. Ron in my Thomas Comes Home for Christmas entry. He posted a comment there. He is a veterinarian by day and a blueshound by night. He told me if it was showing up externally that it is somewhere else. By all accounts, it seems the news for Cousin Jack is very grim indeed. I am very grateful for my new friend and for his willingness to educate me regarding Cousin Jack’s condition. I have only known Dr. Ron a very short time, (since we picked up Thomas in OKC) but he’s a great guy and I’ve grown attached to him already!! Poor Dr. Ron!!
One quick update regarding my car crash post. I told you I am always careful to check to make sure no one passes me on the left when I turn left into my driveway. As I was driving home this evening from Lawton, I turned on my blinker to turn left into the casino parking lot. I forgot to check for careless drivers passing me and as I slowed down to turn. Sure enough an idiot in a minivan passed me on the left as I made my turn. I have no idea why we didn’t collide. She was going very fast, I’m sure and I was nearly stopped. I didn’t even see her until she was also in the casino parking lot where she swerved rapidly to avoid hitting me. She was completely freaked out. I saw her at that point because I nearly hit her in the driveway because she had so suddenly appeared. She could have killed us, but she was so visibly shaken we had to make sure she was okay. She had to ask me if we collided. She didn’t even know what happened. “No, ma’am, you didn’t hit us. If you had we wouldn’t be talking right now because we would probably be DEAD!!!!”