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Sep 2 / Vick Mickunas

Remembering MoMo

Remembering MoMo

It was right around New Year’s Day-1999 was about to expire, I went back to the tool shed and discovered that a feral cat had found shelter there. She had just given birth. Only three in the litter. Two orange guys and another male who was black.

When spring arrived they had been weaned and the mother went back to her wandering ways. Shortly thereafter we found her dead in a ditch. A car had hit her. Her kittens remained behind. They were feral like their mother. Two of them, the black one and one of the orange ones were skittish and distrustful. They would eat but kept their distance from us and remained outdoors.

The other orange cat was a lover. He would come in the house and rub up against our legs. A real sweetheart. I have found through sad experience that the gregarious kittens are the most endangered. That little fellow vanished soon thereafter. I don’t even remember now what we called him. The coyotes probably made a meal out of him.

We named the black cat MoMo. The orange cat acquired the moniker of Lazzy. We took them to get fixed. Lazzy never forgave us. 14 years later he still remembers being captured and delivered to the vet where he was unmanned. Lazzy still winters in the tool-shed where he was born. He eats what we serve him and he keeps his own company. He will allow me to pet him on his terms. He’s still mostly feral.

MoMo decided a long time ago that he preferred having access to amenities. Warm beds. The arm of my recliner where he could receive all the stroking and loving he so thoroughly savored. He didn’t purr very much but there was something so languid and fulfilled about him. Pure pleasure. He would always show up at about 5 minutes before 6. Dinner time. He would inspect the meal and if we were having salmon his anticipation was relentless. His satisfaction, boundless.

Sometimes the other cats would make it perilous for MoMo to enter through the cat doors. Often in the dead of winter at 3am we would be awakened by MoMo. He would climb up the sides of the second floor deck and up on to the balcony where the sounds of his claws raking on the glass doors would rouse us from our slumbers. MoMo would then come straight to bed.

This past winter we noticed that MoMo would occasionally sneeze. He would be in bed and suddenly have a sneezing fit. Two of the other cats were also somewhat sneezy last winter. We assumed it was some kitty bug they were passing around. The other two cats got better. As spring rolled around MoMo was still having some respiratory issues. Trouble breathing. Congestion. Sneezing.

He never got better. We took him to the vet and after being examined we were told that he had polyps growing in his airway, that this was not uncommon and that following surgical removal most cats did just fine afterwards.

We consulted with another vet to obtain a second opinion. This vet said she could not really determine the problem without performing surgery to be certain what was wrong. We agreed to go forward.

The findings were not what we had hoped. MoMo had a tumor growing in his throat. There was nothing that we could do to help him. It was too late. The vet suggested that a cortisone injection might temporarily reduce the size of the tumor, alleviate any pain and give him a little more time with us. He got the shot and we took him back home.

His appetite improved-he seemed more like his old self. But not for very long. Two nights ago he came and snuggled up next to me in bed. That would be the last time. He was so sick. This morning we took him to the vet to help him to exit his worn out body. I have buried MoMo in the yard.

MoMo deeply understood the hazards of the road, I never saw him go anywhere near it. He had his secret places out in the forest where he spent his afternoons hunting voles and field mice. I never knew him to attack a bird of any kind.

He did enjoy the occasional baby squirrel lunch. This spring after he was already ill with the cancer that finally ravaged him I walked past the firewood pile next to the fireplace and I heard an odd sound. I looked over there and saw that MoMo had caught a baby squirrel and as was his custom he was devouring it. MoMo would begin by chomping on the squirrel’s head then proceed anaconda-like to eat the squirrel all the way down in one long devoted and thoroughly ecstatic chewing session. He would not stop until he had reached the tail which he would then deposit like some feral trophy upon the driveway.

We’ll miss you, MoMo.

Aug 2 / Vick Mickunas

I love my plumber

Ours is a world of contradictions. How did we become encircled by all these oxymorons? Look at Congress. OK, bad example.

I’m always thrilled when I get good customer service. It happened recently. I have been working with the same plumber for years. He does good work and he rarely screws up. When he does, he makes it right.

My well pump failed and he replaced it. Actually, his son did the install while my plumber supervised. They left. The pump worked fine. Then after all those heavy spring rains it stopped working. I turned off the power and looked inside the well to determine what had gone wrong. The well was flooded. The pump was underwater. That’s why I have a sump pump in the well, so that water can be removed and the well pump will continue to function.

I thought, oh no, now the sump pump had failed. Then I noticed the problem: when they installed the well pump they neglected to plug the sump pump back in. The well flooded and my well pump stopped working because the plumber’s son spaced out on that one small detail.

So I called my plumber and explained the situation as nicely as I could. Of course he insisted that he had checked and there was no way they had forgotten to plug the sump pump back in.

He said he would come out but I would have to pay for the service call, etc. So he did. I was nice. He was polite. He looked at the well and he could tell that it was their screw up. He got the well pump working again. He pointed out that the sump pump was also plugged in. Then he said: “you got 20 dollars?”

That was the cost for the part he replaced on the pump. Twenty bucks. No service charge. No labor charge. No excuses.

I love my plumber!