These cats were one of the great reasons to support this particular pet store. They were sweet and affectionate, and despite getting too much affection from too many people over the course of a day, they wound up being quite friendly and good natured. For us, one of the highlights of having to buy pet food was getting to pet Ginger and Smokey as we went about our business.
We used to joke about one of us making a distraction while the other of us stuffed the cats into a jacket and bolting for the door. Our bluffs were called one day when we were asked if we wanted to take the cats home with us. We were dealing with our old and dying kitty right then, so we declined at that time, but promised that we’d be back when the opportunity presented itself.
We waited too long to put Brie down, and she suffered for it. However, we did not wait too long to go to Bosley’s and pick up these troublesome kitties from their former home at the pet store. One day we had a sick and dying cat, and the next day we had two happy and healthy cats in the prime of their lives.
We had Smokey for 4 good years before he lost his little cat brain and became a problem. He had some sort of intestinal problem that, among other things, troubled his mind and triggered his base cat instincts. He began to spray, and spray a lot. He even shorted out an electrical wall outlet and started a small fire! Between his spraying and his stool problem, we had to let him go into the great beyond. We had him for 6 years, of which about 4 were good ones.
Ginger was special. She was the softest, prettiest, and sweetest kitty that either I or C had ever owned. And she was funny in her ways. She slept on C’s arm, insisting that the arm be held just right while the two of them snoozed away. She introduced us to beating, whereby the base of a cat’s tail and its lower back is lightly struck repeatedly with whatever implement is at hand. Her favorites were plastic coat hangers, although paper towel tubes were also well received.
She was polydactyl, with an extra toe on each foot. She liked to ride on my shoulder, with the back foot claws holding on for extra stability for her, and blood on my part. She was both afraid and intrigued by the great outdoors, and when allowed out, would roll on the hot sidewalk, and munch on grass if she could get away with it.
She wasn’t much of a lap cat, but when held was a sensual pleasure of softness that was easy to drown in, and she enjoyed being petted as much as we enjoyed petting her.
But she was 14 years old, the longest lived of any pet that I’d ever had. When she started to lose weight, we knew something was up, and the Vet told us that her kidneys had failed, the same thing that had done in our Brie 9 years before. We had waited too long with Brie, and we didn’t want Ginger to suffer. Two weeks from the day of her diagnosis, we let her go into the void, accompanied by many tears, surrounded by a soft (but not as soft as her) blanket, in a box with her favorite cat toys, her collar from Bosley’s, and a Peach, because that was her color, and something that C had called her. Under the box can be found twigs of Rosemary (for rememberance), mint for the smell, and roses to take to her Smokey. The top of the box is guarded by a plastic coat hanger. Thousands of years from now, somebody will dig in what is now my back yard and will find little but the hanger and the peach pit, and wonder about the primitive peoples that used to live here.
So our last tie with Bosley’s and kitties from Bellingham is now over, and we’re pouring out all of our love onto the kitten that we recently rescued from living rough. She has some awfully big paw prints to step into, and we will miss our Ginger until the end of our days.
As a final note, I told my friend Liz about the impending demise of our sweet kitty, and she sent me this lovely poem:
Grieve not, nor
speak of me
but laugh and
talk of me
as if I were
I loved you so. . .
here with you.
Isla Paschal Richardson
Being a little curious, I looked up the poet, and found that this poem had been famously used on another occasion. While these words screamed “lost pet” to me, it turns out that it was read by Gregory Peck at the funeral of Frank Sinatra in 1998. Go figure. The entire poem reads like this:
To Those I Love
If I should ever leave you,
Whom I love
To go along the silent way. . .
Nor speak of me with tears.
But laugh and talk of me
As if I were beside you there.
(I'd come. . .I'd come,
Could I but find a way!
But would not tears and
grief be barriers?)
And when you hear a song
Or see a bird I loved,
Please do not let the thought of me
Be sad. . .for I am loving you
Just as I always have. . .
You were so good to me!
There are so many things
I wanted still to do. . .
So many things I wanted to say
to you. . . Remember that
I did not fear. . . It was
Just leaving you
That was so hard to face.
We cannot see beyond. . .
But this I know:
I loved you so. . .
'twas heaven here with you!
Copyright 2007 by Rich Webb, aka The Outsider.
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