Death and Taxes

I spent just about all Sunday afternoon trying to get my taxes done so I can file them.  And boy, did it get me frustrated.

Problem 1: Apparently, my prize money (and maybe my wee increase in salary?) bumped me up a tax bracket. I owe more than a couple hundred bucks to the feds and I'm not happy.   
Do I wish I had put aside money when I first got the check? Not really, because I really love everything about my new stereo setup.  No regrets.  Music wins.

Problem 2: About a month or two ago, I learned that earned income tax that I thought was deducted from my paycheck and paid to the borough in which I work, was in fact mislabeled and indeed forwarded to the borough where I live.  Meaning I've been paying almost double in earned income tax.

The tiniest bit of good news is that what will be refunded to me nearly matches what I will be paying the feds.  

So that's all taken care of.  Yet it really has driven home the point that what I am doing--how I am earning a living right now--is not really taking care of my financial needs.  Throw in a cat who needs medical treatment, and I've got a situation that demands I deem my resume' polished enough and start sending it around.
But God I wish I could find my real niche.

Moving on to death, unfortunately: The Senior Cat at my parents' had been declining for a while, and this past week she started to do very badly.  Eating less, not able to walk one day, not able to use the litterbox without help.  My mom was particularly concerned about that last point, and after a couple trips to the vet (who was very kind and regarded Senior Cat with awe for her "Ancient" status) did not give Senior Cat much relief, Mom weighed the options and made the tough decision.

It was one of those things that was really hard to reconcile, even rationally.  I mean, I agreed with the decision.  Don't wait until the poor cat has a seizure or a stroke or worse because her little body's shutting down.  But her alertness was pretty good--in fact, she got out of her little heated bed to demand some shrimp at dinner.  She even seemed a bit bewildered when I leaned down to say goodbye last night.

"You're an amazing cat," I told her as she lay in her little bed.  [I'm tearing up just thinking about it again.]  "You were so good to Aunt E. and we were lucky to have you next.  Go find Aunt E. in Heaven, and sit on her lap."  And I told her I loved her (we all did!) and we'd never find another cat like her.  And then I had to go and not look back.

I didn't sleep that well last night, and at 3 a.m. I awoke with tears pouring out of my eyes.  I think I've cried in my sleep like that only once before, and that was when The Cat got scary-sick last summer.  And I had a lousy day today after no sleep, and the secretary making a comment on the weird tiny cluster of grey hairs at the back of my head (oh sure, she thought it was funny) didn't help.  I couldn't really eat.  The grief will be difficult for a bit, I know, and feels worse because I have my own time-is-short feeling with The Cat.

Senior Cat was with us for almost 16 years, the first few with my great-aunt E.  They were the best of companions.  One time, when my cousin couldn't get through on the phone to Aunt E. all afternoon, she used her spare house key and found Aunt E. at the bottom of the steps after a fall--and the phone, on a side table at a distance from the steps, had been off the hook--our only guess is that Senior Cat had knocked the phone receiver, because Aunt E.  had been unable to get up.

Later, as Aunt E. was in her last days and sleeping 24/7 in a hospital bed set up in her bedroom, Senior Cat defied the nasty home health aide who'd banished her to the basement: Nightly, after the home health aide went to bed, Senior Cat would sneak upstairs, jump onto the dresser, and climb over the bedrails to snuggle with Aunt E.  (Mom saw it happen one night near the end when she slept over but hadn't gone to bed yet.)  Then, before the home health aide got up in the morning, Senior Cat would climb back out of the hospital bed and head down the basement.  Incredible.

She wasn't dumb.  She purred the minute my mom held her at the SPCA almost 16 years ago.  When Aunt E. passed away and she came to live with us at my parents', she latched onto my dad as her boyfriend (well, she always found boys charming, anyway).  She put up with The Cat's antics, as well as the antics of Younger Sister's Cat (a.k.a. Calamity Jane)--and then later the two former strays/ferals who also came to live there.  And while she carried herself with a primness, she was rather vocal at the dinner table (in her gravelly Brenda Vaccaro voice) and expected my father to send a few morsels her way. . . not to mention she was caught getting into the kitchen trash can after dinner on more than one occasion!

What a life she had!  She was one heck of a cat.  We will miss her very, very much.  



ccr in MA said…
I am so sorry about Senior Cat. Those decisions just suck all around, no denying it.

Also, "But God I wish I could find my real niche." I hope you will, and I hope I will too. Life these days!
Kate P said…
CCR--thank you so much. For both things. Yeah, what're we gonna do about life these days?
Dave E. said…
My condolences regarding Senior Cat. No matter how right and merciful it is, it's still so painful. I'm so sorry.
Annie Coe said…
I am so sorry about the passing of this wonderful cat.
I cry nightly over the death of my 3 furbabies last year, it still hurts.
It is always hard to know when to let an animal go. We all do the best we can.
Rob said…
What a great story. RIP, Senior Cat.
Sara said…
I have honestly given up on my niche. To get the education I need to do what I want means that I have to give up the horses, and it's not worth it. My career is summed up by the lyric "everybody's working for the weekend..."

Good luck!

As for Senior Cat, my sympathies. When we put down Bonnie, Rick took her out in the backyard for one last romp and she perked right up and explored, but it was still time. In fact, Rick's still kicking himself because he feels that he waited too long. Unfortunately, those moments do mess with you when trying to determine quality of life. :(
Kate P said…
Dave--thanks. You called it exactly; it never feels good.
And it felt really weird to cook bacon on Sunday at my parents' and there was no cat rasping for a piece. (That said, later on Calamity Jane came up and ate scrambled egg crumbs out of my hand.)

Annie--another kind soul. Thank you and I am sorry for all your losses, too. I went a long time without having to say goodbye, and you had the opposite. Both are hard.

Rob--Thank you. Yeah, they broke the mold when they made her.

Sara--I wouldn't give up those wonderful horses for anything. :)
My parents took Senior Cat out one more time, too, I think the day before. Then after they buried her, my dad got out the sherry and said to my mom, "We need this." And they toasted Senior Cat. (Note: my parents are not serious drinkers at all.)

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