blank'/> The Libe ob Don Estorbo de la Bodega Dominicana: Estorbo is home, and loses a friend

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Estorbo is home, and loses a friend

Estorbo, at 11.19am

What a day. It's not noon yet.

Don Estorbo de la Bodega Dominicana was delivered home in his unattractive grey box just after 10am.  I gave the Pet Taxi man a good tip.

From the moment Estorbo entered the apartment he howled. He howled all around it. The kind of howling he makes when he's being taken to the vet. He went straight to his water bowl and drank and drank and drank. Then he went to the bath, which I filled for him, hopped in, and drank and drank and drank.

He is thinner, and I've already brushed him a little, as his fur was coming out. But I have to ration the time I can touch him: I have 20 minutes a day (but so does Vince). He needs a bath. He smells like pee.

Estorbo. Not Vince.

Poor cat.

When he has settled I will wash and dry him.

Right now he is much calmer, and is lying on the terrace, in his favourite spot under the corner chair, on the carpet of wet creeping Jenny. It rained heavily in the night. I hope that when he's relaxed he'll begin to eat.

And then:

Estorbo's great friend, and mine, Yvonne Friedman, passed away yesterday, in Cape Town. I have been dreading this news. Yvonne had been ill for many years - almost as long as I can remember. I think it was a complicated form of poly fibromyalgia, which was treated with cortisone, which weakens bones. She recently suffered several more fractures in an apparently endless series of them. She passed away after surgery to her hip.

She was a very tough lady. In the best sense. When I was a teenager she intimidated me - she was a blunt, straight talker. She never complained, and was often in pain. I never knew quite why she took a great liking to me. I was very flattered by her interest in me. Her husband Gerald is a friend and colleague of my father's, a judge. She loved my father, who was a great friend to her, visiting her always with a big bouquet of red roses if she were in hospital.

Yvonne is the reason this crazy cat-writing business began, and indirectly the reason Estorbo started to write a blog. His blog preceeded mine by a few months - so without his, maybe 66 Square Feet would never have happened.

Long before he blogged, Estorbo started to write letters to Yvonne and Gerald's cat, Ambrose, to amuse Yvonne when she was ill. She thought he was hysterical.  The letters were delivered by email, regular post or by me, in a beaten up envelope with vague address insructions and obscure stamps. Ambrose was a big fat, pompous and occasionally racist British Blue. He and Estorbo traded insults by mail for several years.

Yvonne loved Estorbo's letters and would read them at once, with great delight.

I was looking forward to seeing her and Gerald the week we got to Cape Town, in just two weeks time, if her condition allowed it. My mom would always pack a picnic lunch and we'd drive out to the Friedman's beautiful house in the milkwood grove at Kommetjie. Or Gerald would cook - he learned, in his 80's, when it became harder for Yvonne, and has a flare for it. We'd talk about their local baboon troop, including a rogue male named Kevin who once walked into their living room and watched a game of rugby on TV with Gerald. Or about the otters that are still seen nearby. Yvonne made a beautiful wooden sculpture of them, two otters swimming, entwined.

I never did visit in December as we were only there for five days, for my dad's 80th birthday, because my publishers wanted me here, and I felt it too rushed. I was wrong.

The old story. Do what what you have to do when you have the opportunity.

There may never be a next time.

Love, live. Delay nothing.


  1. Welcome back, microwaved kitty. Radioactivity looks good on you.

  2. Sorry to hear about your friend. Everyone misses opportunities like that. There's never time enough for everything. But it does feel rotten to think that you shoulda, coulda, woulda. I'm sorry.

  3. Big Hugs for Estorbo! I know the 2 of you are delighted to have him back in the nest.
    Hopes that you and your family can take comfort in the memories of a lifetime of friendship with Ms Friedman.

  4. Glad to see Estorbo back in his natural habitat. He looks calm and happy now that he's told you all about his adventures.
    So sorry about your friend...sounds like she was a wonderful woman and we all owe her thanks for inspiring you and Estorbo to share with the world.
    Perhaps you can relax for a bit with a drink this bittersweet afternoon.

  5. I don't know about you, but I have to re-learn "Love, live. Delay nothing." all the time, even with terminal illness! A good mantra to repeat each morning, maybe. I am sorry that your heart is hurting. Yvonne sounds like a wonderful person. Glad you have the boy back home. What an ordeal! He must be saying "Sheet!" Hope he will be on the fast road to recovery.

  6. Don Estorbo de la Bodega Dominicana I am glad you are back home again! I would love to know that the microwave treatment worked. In time aye? It's is so sad about your friend being gone now. I knew you were a super-special cad, making Ms. Friedman laugh too. It will be nice when your humans can pet you for more than 20 minutes a day.

  7. Estorbo, I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. She sounds like a great lady. Welcome home and enjoy your bath. Your ordeal is finished.

  8. Sorry about your good friend.

    I do not recall seeing a bowl for water in his condo. He always looked clean to us, as did the condo when we watched on the webcam, so maybe the ride down from the clinic as well as also the taxi ride were both sufficiently traumatic for him to make him wet himself. Porrr keedy, but so good you are home.

    1. He had water, and they were aware that agua is very important to him. But perhaps, being stressed, he did not drink as much as he usually does.

  9. I think the water bowl was just out of reach of the cam, lower right corner...

    Yvonne's legacy, albeit a bit radioactive, lives on! She will not be forgotten.

  10. 'storbito, welcome home!! we loves how you gafe the apardmend noticias that you had returned;-) rest bien, dear furriend, an' soon will come the wellness we all crave for you!

    an' ms. wooman? we is furry sorry your good friend is gone away--we knows how it is to miss somebuddy.

    --los meowers de missouri

  11. Estorbo, so good to see you back in your favorite spot, where you belong. I spent more time watching you on cat-condo-cam than I am willing to admit. I know you didn't like it, but I am thankful your treatment was quick!

    I am sorry to read about Yvonne, it sounds like she had more than her fair share of pain in her life. I do remember the Wooman telling the story of how all this blogging began, with letters between cats overseas, to amuse Yvonne. Something to remember her by.

  12. Hermano! Welcome back! You will be your old self soon, I know.

    The human and I are very sorry that you lost your dear friend Yvonne ... gentle purrs and headbumps to you.

  13. So Sorry to hear about your friend, but it sounds like she, if indirectly, was a great inspiration to your writing and her legacy lives on with you. Welcome back nukular kitty!

  14. Welcome home sweet cat xo Susan

  15. Welcome home to Storby. So sorry to hear of your friend's death. It sounds like we are all richer for her influence on you. A lovely eulogy.

  16. It sounds like we are all richer for her influence on you.
    So well put, Webb.

    Yvonne has left a legacy indeed - and I am glad that I now know the story of how the Don started to blog. My thoughts are with Gerald, and all the people who's lives that Yvonne touched and influenced who mourn her passing.

  17. I can only hope that I matter as much in someone's life as Yvonne mattered to you. Few of us can change a country as Rosa Parks did and we all know that. What is important is that we mattered; we were here and someone remembers us. What wonderful words about her.

    Estorbo, welcome home. You are one of the few that loves New York water. Probably that water tasted wrong to you! You wanted your premier New York agua.

  18. So happy the beeg blag cad is home! And how wonderful to have had such an indelible friend in Yvonne! Thank you for writing about her . . .

  19. Thank you, Marie, for such a lovely story. I am sorry you lost such a wonderful woman. You and dear Estorbo must celebrate her life and honor her for giving so much inspiration. Love to you both, and welcome home dear Storbie!

  20. Welcome home kitty cat. I hate to think of you scared and away from home.

    You're back now and for 40 minutes a day will get some sweet sweet loving.

    40 minutes total was more that I got to pet Pokie, my last cat, in her lifetime.

    And Marie, more hugs and love being sent your way. And don' think of what you didn't get to do. Remember instead all the joy and laughter you brought to Yvonne's life.

    You are a very special friend.

    xo Jane

  21. Death always brings regrets. Sorry for your loss Marie. And sorry for poor Gerald as well. Glad Estorbo is back.

  22. Marie, thanks for sharing about your friend. I have a similar regret, luckily my memories are assured of all of our time together. Storbie, sharing a poem from a friend, from their friend:

    There was a young man from Purdue
    Who found a mouse in his stew
    Said the waiter, "Don't shout
    or wave it about!
    Or the others will be wanting one too!"

    by Luisa
    Viva the Friend Cycle, eh?

  23. so sorry to hear about your dear friend Marie... sending you some hugs....words can never say enough....


  24. smiled & cried. at the same time.

  25. Hola! Welcome back, hermano.We have been wondering...The Secretary tells us nothing!

  26. I did tell G and S you were home, Storbie. They didn't listen!

    I hope, by now, you are comfortable and eating again.And I am sorry your friend is gone.Memories are good things.

  27. My sincerest condolences on the loss of your friend Yvonne.