(mid-November, 1997 -- August 17, 2012)
Little did we know on a chilly February afternoon in 1998 how much our lives would change with the addition of one fluffy ball of fur. He was a barnyard kitten, albeit a most glamorous one covered with the thickest, longest coat of butterscoth and white hair. And he was most persistent in letting us know that he had no intention of being left behind. He followed our daughter, Mandy, all over the farm as I selected items for an upcoming event. Ninety minutes later, he settled nicely in my minivan heading for a new home.
Our dearly-loved seventeen-year-old cat, Stubby, had exhausted nearly all of the "nine lives" attributed to his kind and we knew he would not be with us much longer. And our handsome, silky-haired ten-year-old cat, Sassy, would be pretty lonesome without another cat in the house. So, Mr. Rigby in all his fluffy glory entered our household and promptly set about annoying the heck out of the two older cats!
By the time I began to write Tierra Red late in the summer of 1999, Mr. Rigby and the Sassy Cat had eased into a sort of tolerant coexistence. I do believe they also had a secret pact regarding which one would interrupt me at the most inopportune times as well as the frequency of those interruptions. We lost our beloved Sassy Cat in 2006 at the age of nineteen. Mr. Rigby honored his passing by doubling up the need for attention. In spite of all those interruptions, the novel was written, went through five drafts and countless edits, and was published in 2009.
While I was in the midst of writing the sequel to Tierra Red, our Mr. Rigby continued the fine tradition he and the Sassy Cat had established with renewed gusto until the early summer of 2012. After several months of numerous visits to our vet and several lengthy camp-outs at the vet's office, it became obvious that our Mr. Rigby was failing fast. He joined the Sassy Cat in one of our garden beds on August 17, 2012.
When our Cinnamon Dog passed away, we were never able to replace her with another dog -- she was just so very special to all of us. We still are not sure we will ever be able to replace Mr. Rigby, either.
Although we had raised six children along with their menagerie of cats, dogs, lizards, guinea pigs, and fish, the loss of Mr. Rigby profoundly affected us. The absence of the Rigby Muse has greatly influenced the progress of the sequel to Tierra Red -- it was ever so difficult to write without interruption for many weeks and months. The writing is back on track this month but I still find myself waiting for yet another interruption . . . .
As a footnote to this tribute to Mr. Rigby, I want to thank our children for bringing all those furry members of our family to us. The Cinnamon Dog and the Stubby Cat belonged to our David primarily, then to our youngest daughters as they grew up. The Sassy Cat belonged to those youngest daughters, Melissa and Mandy, and also to our grandson, Marcus. Mr. Rigby was Mandy's cat until she left for graduate school and Marcus filled in for her for a time as well. But to the end, my husband, Jim, was Mr. Rigby's buddy.
He was a most well-loved critter and he will be forever missed . . . .