I have reached a time in my life, where along with my children growing up and leaving the nest, the childhood pets that have grown with them have reached an age of illness and death. I gave Elmo up this morning to the merciful death needle of the veterinarian. She had been with us for 11 years and was the faithful companion of my daughter, who has flown so many miles away from home. Elmo entered our life when she was a tiny 8 week old and my daughter was a tiny 8 year old. Some friends of ours saw this tiny cat being tossed out of the moving car in front of them, giving the cat a damage hip. They met us at the local park, bringing this tiny, furry, baby with them. My daughter claimed her instantly and named her Elmo. Elmo spent her days and nights sleeping at the side of my daughter. She never cared to explore the woods, but preferred to stay close to home. When my daughter moved away, Elmo moved herself out to the apartment shed where I had stored my daughter's things. I had noticed the change in Elmo's interest in food, and thought it was due to getting older and the weather changing. Then I noticed her drooling extremely bad. She got to where she could not drink or eat properly. I thought it might be a broken tooth. I opened her mouth to have a look, and that's when I saw a large growth inside of her mouth. Taking her to the vet, made what I feared to be true. Cancer. The vet gave me several options, take her home with antibiotics to see if it goes down, 3 more days of starving and not much water, expensive tests for what we already pretty much know, and the risk of cutting it out, with so many veins, and again, not being able to eat or drink well until it heals. When it comes to these things, I take the coward's way out. I think it hurts me most because Elmo was something of my daughter that was still here at home. This weekend, when my daughter calls, I will have to tell her what has happened. She is much better at accepting things like this than I am. I always get too attached. Our cat family is dwindling down, and there are older cats still here. I know too soon, I unfortunately will be writing about them. A lot of people will say, "it's only a cat", but to me they are companions, comics, and heart melters. Little old ladies and gentlemen in fur coats. Goodbye, my sweet little old lady. I will miss you.