April 7, 2008

Dewey Iacono, R.I.P.

A few weeks ago, my mom had to put the much beloved Dewey to sleep. I don't know why I haven't written about it until now, except that the Dewmaster deserves a better eulogy than my hectic schedule was permitting.

If you have ever visited my other site, you know that Dewey was, well . . . too dewy. This led to him living a life of accommodated exile where he was fed, sheltered, and cared for by our family, but disallowed entrance to the house. Instead, Dewey made the garage, the deck, and the yard his domains.

The thing was, though, that Dewey's defining characteristic was that he was happy--pretty much always. So this meant that when he was put outside, he cheerfully persisted in attempting to regain entrance to the house. For about 15 years. Every Iacono assembly-line formation to bring in the groceries was accompanied by cries from my mother of, "Watch him! WATCH HIM!"

In the early years of his banishment, Dewey's sunshiny outlook would invariably mean that, having gained access to the house, he would head straight to whatever area of the house would be most upsetting for my mom. (A favorite is the time we kids searched in a panic to hustle Dewey out of the house before our mother caught on . . . only to find him curled in a ball on my parents' bed. "Death wish," said my brother, and he may not have been wrong.)

In later years, he seemed to understand that he wasn't supposed to stay inside and, having gotten inside by the downstairs door, would walk along with us to the upstairs deck door and head out the moment it was opened. "My point being made . . .", said my brother (again).

The one thing I want to make clear is that despite his outside ways, we took very good care of this cat. One winter, when the yard was under about 15 inches of snow and Dewey was confined to the garage and walkable parts of our drive, my dad shoveled a path between the driveway and the deck so that he could have full access. The sight of the tip of Dewey's tail bopping along above the snow--his tail was almost always up, the better to communicate cheer and to whiz--is one of the most endearing memories I have of both Dewey and of my dad.

For my part, I bought Dewey a succession of snug, woolen cat beds that hugged close and plugged in for extra warmth. Winter's arrival was marked annually by a call from my dad telling us that, "Dewey's in his hat."

Even Dewey's misconduct tended toward the hilarious. I have held forth at length about how this cat taught me the important distinction between love and trust. I always welcomed him, let him follow me around, and played with him--but I never turned my back on him. The stories of those who did have a certain uniformity. The best was my mother's.

It was before Dewey was sent outside--it was, in fact, the clincher in that decision. I was in the kitchen, I think doing my homework, when I heard my mother yelling in the next room. I stepped out to see my mom standing up in front of the couch with a book in her hand, yelling at Dewey. Her summary, "I'm sitting here thinking, 'God, it's warm.' The son of a bitch pissed on me!"

And so Dewey was sent outside. But that changed little; he was an important part of our family all the same. I already miss him terribly.