The Amazing Story of Marco Weaver
By Ron Weaver Jr.
Almost ten years ago we adopted a kitten from the Humane Society and named him Marco. He was a happy kitten and fit in well with our other two cats, but one day after only a few months he disappeared. We put up flyers and searched and searched for him. To no avail.
Three weeks ago, on Wednesday, November 18th, Nancy arrived home from work and called the family together for an announcement. She told us that she had gotten a call from National Pet Microchip saying they found a cat with a chip that showed he was Marco and registered to Nancy Weaver. We were in shock. The shelters were all closed at that point so we would have to wait until morning to go get him. So, that night we made plans to be at the Humane Society at 9:00am the next morning when they opened to get our boy.
Beside herself with excitement, we decided to let Mary Crawford miss her first few classes so she could go with us, and I drove to the Humane Society on Beach Blvd. We were a little early as we were anxious to get Marco back. The Humane Society employees let us in at 9:00 only to find that he was not at that facility. The nice lady helping us suggested he might be at Animal Care and Protective services on Forest St. downtown. She also advised that ACPS takes hundreds of calls a day and it would probably be best to just drive there to see if they indeed had Marco.
Not wanting to make a wasted trip, I got on the phone and computer to try to confirm his whereabouts. I was able to get a live person from the city, but because Marco’s chip was not registered in my name, there was limited information she could share. What she did tell me was that someone had reported a wounded cat in a field off of St. Johns Bluff. That’s where they found him. However, at that point the woman could not confirm exactly where Marco was. After some frustrating round and round with ACPS online, I finally determined he was at the ACPS facility downtown. I was hesitant to just show up at their facility not knowing if they would release Marco to me, but I thought to myself, heck with it, I’m going to get him one way or another. So, I loaded up the cat carrier and headed downtown.
By now it was around 11:30 and ACPS didn’t open until Noon, so the waiting continued. When 12:00 came they let me and a couple others who were waiting in, (after a temperature check of course). The staff was extremely helpful and loved the story about the reunion of Marco with his family after 9 years. I was beyond excited to be getting Marco back and assumed that for the most part he would be healthy. While I was filling out paperwork, the lady explained that he had a large wound that had abscessed on his head and that he would need to see a vet as soon as possible. I called our vet and made the appointment for the next day even though I still had not actually seen Marco. When they brought him out, the wound looked worse than I could have imagined. They sent me off with pain meds and antibiotics. When I got Marco into my truck and was able to get a better look at his wound, I realized that this was a life-threatening issue. I immediately called our vet back with the news and they asked me to come in that afternoon at 3:30.
I took Marco home and brought him in the house. We still had a couple hours until our appointment so I talked to him and tried to comfort him. I kept him in the cat carrier as I was concerned about having to try to get him back in with this large wound. Finally, it was getting close to 3:30 so we loaded back up in the truck and headed to the vet.
They agreed he was in bad shape and asked if it would be ok to keep him overnight and do the surgery the next morning to clean up his head. They were so touched by Marco’s story that they offered to help pay some of his medical costs out of a fund they keep for special cases. It was a beautiful gesture and much appreciated.
The next morning, I got a call from the doctor prior to his surgery saying that he was in much worse shape than they had first thought. The wound was not only abscessed but appeared to have cancerous looking nodules all around it. It was bad enough that the vet questioned whether they should even do the surgery. Nancy and I discussed the situation and quickly decided that Marco had come back to us after 9 years and we were going to at least give him a chance.
They did the surgery and cleaned him up the best they could. That was Friday, November 20th. When we got the call that we could come pick up Marco later that afternoon, Mary Crawford and I drove the short distance to our vet to get him. The doctor and her assistant brought Marco to us and She reiterated that Marco’s situation was grave. On top of the cancer, he was skin and bones and extremely anemic. With firm resolve, we insisted Marco would at least get a fighting chance. The doctor wanted to see Marco back the following Tuesday.
We brought him home and Mary Crawford lovingly set him up in our bedroom. Marco was pretty terrified at first and the introduction of the cone didn’t help. At one point, I stepped out of the room for a few moments to catch my breath. All of this was taking it’s toll and I was questioning whether we had made the right decision. A few minutes later, I got my answer. Nancy was calling my cell phone. When I answered, in a very soft voice, she said come back in the room and be very quiet. When I eased the bedroom door open, I was amazed to see Marco swirling all around Nancy and purring up a storm. And he was hungry. All good signs.
Our family spent that weekend loving on Marco and praying for a positive outcome. I rarely left his side. Same with the rest of the family. We watched him in shifts so he wouldn’t have to always be wearing the cone and could get fresh air on his wound. The days eked by and Tuesday came. I took him to the vet for his checkup. It was a short visit and they were pleased with his progress. Another appointment was set for Friday to have the stitches removed.
The love and pampering of Marco continued. When Friday arrived and I took Marco to have his stitches removed they discovered he also had a bad hook worm problem that was preventing him from gaining any weight, so they treated him for that. The doctor was encouraged to hear he was eating like a wild man, so we made another appointment for the following Friday, December 4th.
We loved and loved on Marco. I spent time carrying him around outside getting fresh air and sun on his little body. Unfortunately, it was apparent the cancer was growing. His left eye was beginning to close up from the swelling. His appetite was still voracious, and we spoiled him with a variety of tasty, juicy meals from Fancy Feast.
Friday the 4th, I took Marco back to the vet. As is the norm these days due to COVID, the doctor met me out front to discuss Marco. The news was not good. The cancer was growing and spreading rapidly. Once again, the vet inquired whether we wanted to continue as Marco’s prognosis was getting worse, but we were resolved that Marco come home to be loved on for a little longer.
While his health continued to deteriorate I kept little Marco even closer. He slept by my or Nancy’s side every night. He was as sweet as can be. It seemed that someone must have cared for him in the time he was missing. So many questions remain.
At this point, we began letting Marco into the rest of the house. One evening, we watched live surfing on TV together though he mostly slept. In the days I spent at home with Marco while everyone else was at work or school it pained me deeply to see Marco continue to fade. He was becoming more and more lethargic. By the end of the weekend, he could no longer see out of his left eye. The swelling was beginning to encircle the bottom of his neck. Though he wasn’t having trouble breathing and was still eating like a lumber jack, it was obvious that we were getting close to the day our little boy would begin to suffer. It was incredibly painful to watch. I knew I was about to make a very hard decision. Still, we loved and loved and prayed and prayed.
On Tuesday, December 8th, I called the vet about purchasing food for our other cats. When the nurse inquired about Marco I let her know that he was not doing good and that I needed to talk to the doctor. The doctor was not in, so the nurse asked if I needed to make an “appointment” for Marco. I was too choked up to continue and managed to tell her I would talk to them when I got there to pick up the cat food.
I gathered myself and drove to the Vet. I called to let them know I was there for the food. They asked that I come in to speak to the doctor. They were not allowing anyone in the office as a COVID precaution so they snuck me in the side door so as not to upset other pet owners. With tears in my eyes I described Marco’s current situation to the doctor. She assured me that we had done all we could and that it was time to set little Marco free, so I made the appointment for 11:00 am on Thursday, December 10th.
Except for my morning walks with Kona, I spent the next two days with Marco in my arms or by my side. Always with my hand on him for comfort. When Thursday morning came, 11:00 just felt too soon, so I called the vet and asked if we could move the appointment to later in the day. Atlantic East Animal Clinic has been awesome, and they moved us to 4:40; the last appointment of the day.
I spent the time holding Marco out in the sun. At one point we were out front in the driveway when he began squirming and trying to get out of my arms. I didn’t want to fight him so I set him down to see what he would do. I figured he was too weak to run too far. To my surprise, he ran as fast as his little body would carry him right back into the house. He knew where he wanted to be.
Nancy got home a little after 4:00 and we loaded up Marco for his final trip to the vet. He was as sweet as he could be, and we had cared for and loved on Marco unconditionally. He had eaten only the tastiest foods and I had kept him in my arms as much as he would tolerate.
Nancy and I were with Marco in the end. Petting him and softly telling him everything would be alright as he left us. We cried and hugged for a long time and finally we brought little Marco home. I wrapped him in a special shirt of mine and placed his body in a box the vet gave us. Mary Crawford was not home from school yet, so I put him on the table on our back porch to wait for MC to get home. I wanted her to be able to say a final goodbye. I dug his grave and Nancy and I spent some time with him while we waited on MC.
When Mary Crawford got home we caressed his little head and said our last goodbyes. As I buried Marco, Kona came and laid by the grave. Animals are much smarter than we give them credit. Kona knew. We are incredibly heartbroken but at least we know Marco was extremely well taken care of in the end of his life and he is now in a better place. And for that we are blessed. I can’t thank Atlantic East Animal Clinic for everything they’ve done for Marco and us. They are truly saints. We love you little Marco. Rest easy buddy! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Ron is a graphics designer and writes short stories in his spare time.