my favorite spider

I got a call from John the night before swearing in as a volunteer. The vet found a large tumor in Addie’s spleen. The options were limited.

I had been holding out hope that I might see her again. I thought I might make a holiday visit in the fall or winter.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there. I’m sorry that I left John with the hardest part.
But I’m grateful for what he did. I’m glad life didn’t get any harder for her.

She will probably be best known for the crotchety-old-lady personality she adopted in the last few years; a creakey-clackety horse who hated cats and slept with her legs folded in the air.
But did you know she used to climb trees? Or that there was a time in her life when she liked to jump from the creek bank into my little boat, threatening to tip over the whole organization? In her agile years, she would climb and jump fences just to come around to the front of the house looking for people to play with.
When I realized that she wasn’t interested in running away, she and I went for walks in the swamp without a leash. When I crossed the creeks on fallen trees, she came right behind me. Sometimes she would take off after deer or a pair of ducks. But when I whistled, she always came back.
I didn’t train her to respond to a whistle, it was understood. But when I taught her not to bark, she thought she could outsmart my rules by clacking her jaws when she had something to say. And she did.
After college, when her joints had gone bad, I took her back to Fredericksburg with me. It was her retirement. I wanted her life to be easier.
We both lucked out when I landed a job and later an apartment at the animal hospital. They took great care of her. Despite her age, those were probably the best years of her life.
Sometimes she drove me crazy. That’s true. But she was great company. And she had ridiculous ideas that made me laugh out loud.
If she ever heard a high-pitched sound that was similar to a meow, she automatically assumed that there was a delicious cat hiding somewhere in the apartment. Sometimes when she was sleeping in the other room and the TV was on, she would appear, ears up and mouth ready, because some cat food commercial had fooled her geriatric wolf brain.
Or sometimes in the summer when the windows were open, she would convince me that she needed to go out for a walk. Once outside, she would lead me right to a patch of tall grass where a stray cat was hiding. Because even though her joints were poor and her eyesight wasn’t great, there was nothing wrong with her sniffer.
Once the cat was flushed from cover, she would run after it. Run.

It was hard leaving her. I hope she didn’t wonder about me. I hope she didn’t worry about me. I wish it made sense to her.
There’s no replacing the jaw-clacking, carpet-necked, cat-hunting, spoon-legged, river-wading, encyclopedia-eating, walk-demanding, sofa-claiming, horse-resembling, sandwich-seeking, gray-jowled black spider who is, and will be, deeply missed.

4 Responses to “my favorite spider”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Addie touched the hearts of us all! and shed all over us too. sweet entry

  2. JM Says:

    I want you to speak at my funeral. I will chase a cat if that’s what it takes.

  3. juliette Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about Addie. My favorite memory of her will always be the time you and Taylor were out, and I took Elvis downstairs, and when I came back up, Addie had climbed into our green armchair and was curled up there as if it belonged to her. As if she was not an ancient beast with an old lady gait who had to be carried up stairs. I wish you all had been there to see it.

    After that, I have no trouble imagining her climbing trees!

  4. princess Says:

    I don’t understand.

    I feel like a child. For as little that I saw of her, she’s always in the corner of my mind. That must be beyond strange. When I installed mirrors so that I could watch the baby, I thought of riding in the car with the two of you, and how you would make eyes at each other in the rear view mirror. In my head you will always be driving a station wagon, and talking to Addie in the rear view mirror. I;ve told all my friends about you and her. My husband wants to get Troxell a dog. He daydreams about some magical mutt, part lab, part shepherd, part collie – a dog that will probably talk and tie shoelaces and be our son’s best friend. And I wonder if we will ever find him an Addie.