In 1997, we came back to the States from Germany, and somehow, somebody in the Pentagon figured that my operatically-trained wife and I needed to be in Wyoming. (See, "opera" and "opry" are really similar...) On our arrival, the Housing Office informed us that nothing was available on base for about a year. (This was not the last time they'd lie to us.)
Needing a place to live, we rented a crappy little house (that turned out to have been built by the Salvation Army, with the plans reduced 10% in size), and, in the first week or so, I left the Trophy Wife, my seven-year-old and two twelve-year-olds, alone long enough to get some groceries. The nearest grocery store was roughly a mile away, and as I walked out, I was accosted by a couple of kids with a plastic hamper containing a cluster of kittens.
Weirdly, the Trophy Wife (despite my best efforts to instill some sanity in her life) has always appreciated cats more than other animals. And here I am, with an armful of bread, milk and cereal, looking into a basket of black-and-white cats, and one tiny little runt kittn, apparently made of orange-and-white plaid. All "free to good home."
I walked to the car, put the groceries in the trunk, walked back and said "I'll take that one."
No cat carrier, so I walked back to the car with an calico kitten cradled in my arms, purring. Until I reached for the door and the little bastard leaped out of my arms and ran under the car, where she found the exact middle. Just out of reach from any angle, where she sat and shivered.
I'm pretty sure that was when I realized her name was, by necessity, "Bucket-head." Which shortened easily to Bucky.
Being intelligent (if underage) human beings, the kids agreed right away. The Trophy Wife did not. But she eventually caved under pressure, and "Bucky" it was.
We moved several times in the intervening years, and pets have come and gone. The most intelligent dog I ever had the pleasure of knowing came into (and out of) our lives. At least one cat (an idiot long-hair) escaped through a badly-fitted screen and never found her way back. But Bucky was always a constant.
She grew into a beautiful cat, but not a charmer. She had a voice like badly-tuned foghorn with a "nasal" setting, and she wasn't afraid to honk her anger when she didn't get her way. She never loved me, but learned to tolerate me (as so many people do). But as time went on, she became the favorite of the Trophy Wife. If only because she was always around, and always insistent that you love her (even if only from a distance).
At sixteen years old, she had a long run for a cat. In the last several months, she developed a number of health problems; two nights ago, she had what seemed to be a stroke, and a very dignified cat (she may not have started out that way, but that's what she turned into) lost all control of her body.
Neither my wife or I has ever had a cat who lived this long. Last night, we said goodbye to a beautiful girl.
She was just a damned cat. Why am I crying? What the hell is wrong with me?