After Columbo

It’s a gloomy Sunday here in Cardiff with dark clouds and heavy rain most of the morning. That, together with the impending ordeal of a trip to Swindon, has obviously dampened my mood a bit after the last couple of days. It has however at least given me the right frame of mind to write something about my dear departed Columbo, who passed away on 1st August. Was it really so long ago?

I’ve found it difficult to know what to do about writing about Columbo in the weeks that have passed since he died. I was devastated, of course, and often felt the urge to write something on here, but was anxious not to allow myself to get too mawkish about things. To do that would have exceeded even the generous allowance of self-indulgence which comes with writing a blog, so I’ve held off and tried the best I can to deal with it on my own. Now, though, I think I’m ready to write something about the past weeks and months. Who knows, it might even help other people going through similar things themselves.

When Columbo died I simply couldn’t face going straight back to work so I took a day off. What I did that day will probably seem strange to many people, but I felt I had to do it. I got rid of all Columbo’s things: his basket, toys, food dishes, the lot. The only thing I couldn’t dispose of was the yellow plastic “sharps” bucket containing the used hypodermic needles that I’d accumulated during the course of his treatment for diabetes. These constitute medical waste so it’s not permitted to throw them away with the usual refuse; I’d have to take them to the vets for disposal and pay a few pounds  to have them incinerated. In fact, I still haven’t done that. My last visit to the vets was so traumatic that I still haven’t been able to face going back there.

I was even going to take all the posts I’d made about Columbo offline, but in the end decided not to. That was mainly because people have told me they enjoy reading some of the old items and I therefore thought it would be a bit selfish to take them away. I know I’m not the only one who misses the poor old thing.

After a day or two of vegetating at home, I went into  work. I almost came straight back home again after bursting into tears on the way to my office, but soldiered on. Over the next few days and weeks I tried to work as hard as I could to distract myself from things and adopted a “business-as-usual” approach to the blog.  Although I was at work I tried to keep myself to myself more than usual, avoiding our communal coffee and lunch breaks, trips to the pub,  and so on. Going away to a conference also helped. Sudden mood swings came and went, but gradually their amplitude decreased. NowI think I’ve regained some sort of equilibrium. Life has changed, but goes on. The Columbo Era has ended.

Which is not to say that I don’t still miss Columbo terribly. Coming home from work there’s still the shock of an empty house and no Columbo to greet me at the door. Being an old fart it was my habit to take a nap on Sunday afternoons; Columbo always joined me for a loud purring session. Without him I simply can’t do that anymore. No cat, no nap…

I’m not the only one to miss Columbo. A couple of days after he went to meet his maker, one of the neighbours’ cats appeared at the  glass door  in my dining room peering inside. This cat, a female of the species,  was quite friendly with Columbo. I don’t know her name. Although she wears a collar I never managed to read the tag; I call her Maud because she comes into the garden. Although she’s been a regular visitor to my little garden I’d never seen her so close to the house before. I watched her searching all around, mewing plaintively. I could well be reading too much into this, but I do think she was looking for Columbo and was upset by his absence.

As time has passed, other cats have visited the garden with increasing frequency. There’s a very sleek black tom cat, a strange skinny cat with a big nose, and a young tabby who I first saw as a pair of green eyes staring out of the bushes late one night. Although Columbo was never much of a fighter these other cats didn’t come down into the garden very often while he was here; they usually sat on the fence or shed roof. Now there’ll probably be a turf war over who gets to count my little patch as part of their territory. I won’t chase them away. In fact I’d be quite happy if one day I could make their acquaintance properly. At the moment they all scarper as soon as I open the door.

The only other thing I want to say is to answer those people who have asked me whether I am planning to get another cat. Well, to be honest, I haven’t got any plans to do that. I just  couldn’t face it right now. I’m not sure I ever will, actually, but  you never know. Just not in the foreseeable future.

4 Responses to “After Columbo”

  1. Dennis Johnson Says:

    I to am an old fart and have many pets through out ther years. All were special, some more so than others but all took a big chunk of my heart when they were no longer there. In getting rid of Columbos’s things you want to throw away the pain you are feeling bucause these things remind you of your beloved pet. If you keep a few of them there will come a day when you can look at them and not be reminded of the pain you feel at the loss but the joy that you brought each other.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Glad you didn’t take the Columbo file offline. I still point ailurophile friends to some of the pics.

  3. Monica Grady Says:

    It has been almost a week since my old cat went to meet her maker. I was in Paris, at a mtg at ESA HQ. My husband took Mog to the vet – I had asked him to do this, as I could not bear to. He found it difficult, but we both knew she was no longer happy, and the vet agreed. Ian got rid of her basket, her cushions and her dish (labelled rabbit, but we knew she couldn’t read) before I came home. Each day, I have looked for her, missed her prowling round the kitchen table whilst we ate. She always circled clockwise – even when she lost her sight. Ian said on Thursday that the house seemed emptier without Mog than it did when Jack (son) left to go to uni. Maybe because jack never jumped on my knee, butting laptop, book or newspaper, asking for attention. Mog has a place in our family history that will never be lost or replaced, no matter if we get a pair of kittens (as has been suggested several times) or whether we remain cat-less.

    Just one thing to add: Columbo has a memorial through your postings about him, which have entertained many people. Maybe more than have been entertained by your lectures…………?


  4. In my mind, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong about being very sad about the loss of our feline good friend. I’ve had cats and I know what it means.

    If this can help, I’m sure that Columbo was a happy cat and enjoyed his life with a caring owner like you. Cats (and other animals) do understand the love we have for them.

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