This Tuesday, another feline companion left the McCorkle family.
Fargo came to us in spring 2007, at the same time as Panda S’mores, when I was a sophomore in high school. He, Panda and Trekker made up the “Fursketeers,” my new nickname for the trio.
Fargo had lost some weight and wasn’t grooming himself as much, but he ate plenty and had his usual spunk. I saw him swat my dog Hemi a couple of days ago when the pooch came a little too close for comfort. Hemi is much, much bigger than Fargo, so that courage is nothing to sneeze at.
But as with anything that lives, the next day is not guaranteed. On Monday evening, Fargs seemed weak and exhausted. I went to groom him and as he lay in my lap, his breaths were barely audible. Anytime I moved him, even slightly, he gave painful meows.
I began to realize that it was his last grooming.
For almost two hours, Fargo lay in my lap. I felt a wave of emotions. Much like when my grandfather passed, I felt honored that he chose me to spend his final moments with. I thought about him as a kitten and all the adventures and misadventures he had in over 15 years with us.
In his youth, Fargs was quite skiddish. He didn’t like being pet for too long and would disappear for hours or days at a time, hiding himself in corners of the house. Whenever we thought we knew all his hiding places, he found another.
Of the Fursketeers, I bonded with Fargo the most because I wasn’t the most social and preferred the company of books or video games to others as a teenager. We both seemed to have some kind of anxiety. Plus, he was gray, and I liked his distinctive look.
As he grew, Fargo became a little more comfortable around us. So comfortable that he didn’t mind marking his territory where he shouldn’t, sometimes on my many boxes of books laying out in the open. My father made a humorous nickname for him: “The Mad Pisser.”
Throughout my college years, Fargo would watch me go up and down the small stairs of our family home while training for cross country and track and field. He offered encouragement by rubbing against my legs without fail once each set was completed. This Fursketeer had transitioned from a full-time recluse into a part-time cheerleader!
In his later life, on some medication and specific pet food, Fargo became an incredible socialite. It was rare to not find him greeting you when you entered the basement. He was almost always purring and rubbing himself against your legs, whether or not you were doing stairs.
Whenever our dogs (rest in peace) Bowser or Scrappy ticked him off, he let them know it with hisses and swats. The pooches soon learned that while they ruled the dog park, they did not rule Ser Fargo’s Domain.
Fargo eventually stopped peeing outside the litter box. Frustratingly, he seemed to trade no. 1 for no. 2. Instead of hiding in random alcoves, he left little presents for the poor soul who stumbled upon them. He had transitioned from “The Mad Pisser” to “The Mad Excreter.”
Instead of giving him up, my family learned to live with his eccentricities. It wasn’t super hard, but required some sacrifice. You always had to pick up or cover anything of value. You had to clean the basement more frequently. But it was worth his company, purrs and cheerleading.
Once Panda left us, Fargo maintained himself for a while, until his grooming became less frequent and his energy dissipated. He knew his buddy was gone, and struggled to live without him.
All in all, Fargo taught me a lot about life, animals and family.
Similar to Panda, Fargo taught me that there’s many life forms other than humans on this planet. You don’t have to go far to find it. Yes, the exotic stuff found in zoos and foreign countres is exciting, yet the ordinary housecat can provide plenty of thrills. And there are so many that need a home.
Furthermore, living with Fargo for so long helped teach me we all need grace and patience. His accidents were frustrating, and he originally wasn’t the most social. Nevertheless, because my family did not give up on him, we made many memories together.
Thinking of Fargo, I try to give others the grace and patience that I know I need. Due to my shyness and anxiety, I could have been written off years ago. But I wasn’t, and developed into a reasonably social being. Most of us have some quirks or flaws that test others. But underneath the surface, we can offer a lot.
Finally, Fargo taught me about my family.
I salute my mother for adopting him and the Fursketeers all those years ago. They, and almost all the pets afterward, came from shelters. They have been wonderful. They simply needed someone to notice them. And my mom has been that person.
My sister was always patient and kind with Fargs. She demonstrated her attentive nature with him, and I think helped get him out of his shell. In many ways, her current career in the medical field was foreshadowed by her interactions with Fargo and other pets.
My father did not adopt Fargo, and while the accidents frustrated him, he never stopped cleaning up his messes and taking him to appointments. Even after long days at work my dad would take care of Fargo, doing stuff that the rest of the family did not prefer to do. I am grateful for all his efforts. So was Fargs.
It will take many days, months and years to get used to Fargo not greeting me on the stairs.
I’d give a lot to hear his purrs and pet his smooth fur.
Or show Hemi who’s boss. Somebody has to!
I’ll do my best in your absence, buddy.