Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I pay tribute to Sweep, my elderly cat, my best friend, who passed away this week.
Quote of the Week
I don’t even know where to start, so I’m just going to type and see where this goes. I have a rough idea of what I want to say but it feels like words are inadequate to express the loss I feel.
Sweep was already an old cat when we first met him. Estimates of his exact age varied, but we suspected he was approximately 16-years-old on 09/12/18 when we adopted him. We later discovered he would have been 15 at this point. My girlfriend wanted to get a cat as a surprise for me, but the cat was literally let out of the bag early. We travelled to Chesterfield to see Sweep and fill out the paperwork for us to adopt him from Cat Protection. We had a trip to Romania planned, so we arranged to pick Sweep up on our return two weeks later.
The car journey home with Sweep was great. He let out a few meows but was fairly calm. We brought him to our apartment and let him out to explore. He wandered around both bedrooms, and both bathrooms sniffing at everything. He ventured into the kitchen and living room, taking his time to map out his new home. Within just a few hours he was sleeping in my girlfriend’s lap.
Sweep had the best temperament of any animal I’ve known. He was so relaxed and chilled out. He was affectionate and loving. It took him a little bit of time to warm up to me, and the first time he sat in my lap I was smiling so hard my face hurt.
We had said that we would let Sweep have free reign of the apartment, but that we would not let him on the bed. The first night when we went to sleep, we heard an unusual wheezing sound. We turned on the reading lamp and he was curled up next to the bed snoring away. We grinned for ages as we just stared at this amazing cat we had already fallen madly in love with. Within a few nights the rule about the bed was forgotten about and Sweep would sleep on the bed with us, either curled up at the bottom, or on one of our pillows above our head.
I could write an entire book about Sweep, but for now I’m just going to focus on a few things to give you an insight into his personality.
Sweep and the balcony
He loved to sit out in the sun on our balcony. We have a top floor apartment overlooking a river, with plenty of ducks, kingfishers and a few herons. Sweep could not jump, so there was no concern about him escaping the balcony. He would sit on one of the chairs and just watch the world go by. In the spring and summer months, I would wake up and find him sprawled in the sun, or sitting on a plant. It was the best way to start the day and it was impossible to not look at him and smile.
Coming Home for Lunch
Before the pandemic I was based in an office not far from home. From locking my front door to sitting at my dest, it was a fifteen-minute walk. For my lunch I would come home to spend time with my best bud. He would be meowing at the door as he heard it unlock, and then I’d feed him and we would lie down together. He would spend the next few minutes rubbing his face against mine, or licking my head. Then, I would have to say goodbye for a couple of hours until I finished for the day.
Sweep and Brownie
In our living room we have an L-shaped sofa and a cuddler chair. I sprawl out in the cuddler, my girlfriend takes the horizontal side of the sofa and Sweep owned the section that sticks out. It was where his toys, cushions and blankets were kept. Sweep did not like normal cat beds and instead preferred to sleep on blankets, covers, jumpers or his favourite teddy bear, Brownie.
Brownie was originally something my girlfriend bought for her own use, as it’s actually a hot water bottle with a soft cover in the shape of a sloth. When the hot water bottle was filled, Sweep would happily spread out across and just snooze for hours at a time.
When we put the Christmas tree up, Sweep loved to pose next to it. I think he knew how photogenic he was. He would step up the unit the tree rested on and then sit next to it, or find a way of crawling underneath it to rest.
For Christmas in 2019, I spent time alone with Sweep as my girlfriend was visiting her family. During that time we really bonded. I couldn’t sleep in the bed as Sweep was wondering where his Mommy was and he was really restless walking between the living room and bedroom meowing. So, I did the only sane thing and slept on the sofa next to him.
Sweep and his toys
Sweep loved his soft teddy bears and we made sure he always had plenty of friends to sit with, or snooze with. Like everything he did, seeing Sweep curled up with these toys just brought an instant smile to your face.
Sweep and I
I have had the worst twelve months of my life. A lot has happened and regular readers will have seen how my mental health has really suffered over the last year. Throughout all of that, Sweep was a rock for me. His love and affection was unconditional. The times I would lie down with him, or just sit with him, and he would come and give me little headbutts or rub his face against mine, he was letting me know he was there. My girlfriend often said he would purr just at the sight of me, but it was a two way street. Just the sight of my best bud made me instantly happier.
Towards the end of 2020, Sweep started to get very bloated. We had known for some time he was suffering with heart failure, and he was on medication for it. The vets did not know for sure whether the bloating was fluid collecting due to the heart failure or if it was a tumour. The tests needed to get a firm diagnosis would have been invasive and stressful for him, and neither us nor the vet thought it would be a good move to investigate further. As the vet stated, even if we knew for certain what the issue was, there was nothing we could do to cure him. It was just a case of making his remaining time as happy as possible.
We thought we were going to lose Sweep just before Christmas 2020, but the medication he was taking helped him and he seemed to make a little recovery as we entered 2021. However, in the last few weeks he started to deteriorate rapidly. He got much, much bigger. Towards the end of the previous week we noticed he was not able to defecate, and I suspected his bloating was blocking his intestines. We took him to the vet where they performed an enema and sent us home with stronger laxatives (he had been taking a mild one for some time already). That was on Monday morning. Sweep was eating normally throughout and would normally go in his litter box once a day, more or less like clockwork. Monday afternoon, Tuesday and Wednesday morning came and went and he only managed a tiny pellet. He was visibly struggling to move. He would have to walk across the living room in a couple of stages, stopping to rest part way. For the last week or so, he did not venture into the bedroom and he spent almost all of his time in his blankets on the sofa. His whole demeanor changed. It was time.
Prior to all of this, just over a week ago, I had been lying on the bed and Sweep came to join me. I was on my right side with my right arm stretched out. Sweep rested his face on my outstretched arm and snuggled into me. I used my left arm to wrap around his body and we dozed for around an hour. It felt like a goodbye. It was like we were both trying to soak up the love we had for each other; like we wanted to hold on to that feeling; that connection, so that when he passed we would both have something to cling to. More than anything, I want to go back to that moment.
We arranged to go to the vet on Thursday at 16:00 to put Sweep to sleep. That night we slept in the living room with him, so that he would not spend his last night alone. For lunch, we made his favourite; cod fish fingers. We would cook them in the oven and then remove all the breadcrumbs before flaking up the fish and serving it to him. He would always know when the fish was being cooked and would stand behind us in the kitchen as we prepared the cod. We would keep turning around and he would meow loudly to tell us to hurry up with the fish. That afternoon, I could hardly cut the fish up because I was shaking so much. I could barely see anything as I was crying so hard. I managed to prepare the meal for him, and we served him on his spot on the sofa.
At the vet, we held on to Sweep’s head as the injection took hold. We felt his body go limp as he peacefully fell asleep. We told him how much we loved him and it is some comfort that he passed away peacefully, with the last thing he saw and heard being the two people who loved him more than anything.
Sweep was not just a cat, or a pet. He was family. He was my best friend. He was a constant source of love, affection and comfort. He would make me laugh and smile. The hole he has left behind is huge. There is no love more pure than that between an animal and a person. I want to be the person that Sweep thought I was. That is perhaps the best way to honour his memory and to thank him for all the strength he gave me.
I miss you, bud.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg. (Current weight 118.9kg).
2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 19).
3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA. (In progress).
4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA. (Not started).
5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA. (Not started).
6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA. (Not started).
Premium Bonds: £275.00 (no change from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £21,610.53 (up £468.11 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £100.00 (no change from last update).
Crypto: £249.67 (down £28.28 from last update).
Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £342,919.20 (up £439.83 from last update).
Credit Card: £249.67 (up £249.67 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £140,665.49 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,163.50 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £234,078.66 (up £249.67 from last update).
Total Wealth: £108,840.54 (up £190.16 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £215.24 (target £5,000).
We finally received our first payment of rent from the BTL, although it was not a full month’s rent as part of the rent was held by the agent for some minor repair work.
We are getting increasingly frustrated with the agent as every time we deal with them, it’s a different person and there appears to be no internal communication between the different people working at the agency.
At the start of the week I was contacted by a new person at the agency who explained there is a damp issue that has been reported by the tenant. I asked if this was the same issue that was reported some time ago, that we are in the process of dealing with. He didn’t know. It turns out to be a new issue, but it’s taken several phone calls and emails just to get to this point. I got a little bit annoyed and explained that I took the agents on because I wanted to be hands off. However, since employing this agency I feel I have done more work than if I had managed the property myself because most of the work has been correcting their mistakes and clearing up their confusion because of their own internal mix ups.
As soon as we have resolved the remaining bits of repair work we will be switching agents. They have been utterly and completely clueless.
Thank you for reading this week and I hope you have gained an insight into my friend, Sweep.
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My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can still see Sweep’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat.
Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.