Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Everybody who ever met you, loved you. Even those who said they didn't like cats. I remember one of the most ardent cat haters, a steely Vice Chairman of a large corporation, grudgingly saying that you 'quite nice for a cat' while he scritched you behind the ears. Oh yes, everyone loved you but no-one more so than me. I remember the day I bought you home as if it was only the other day and not 1991, or was it 1992? (Forgive me, my memory fails me as in my head you have always been there). I thought I had chosen you, but of course as all good cat owners know, you had in fact, chosen me. I saw you in the pen at the shelter and I remember asking you if you wanted to come home with me. You looked straight up at me with big wide green eyes and simply said a very loud affirmative 'meow'. There was no mistaking your tone and so the following week I bought you home in a cardboard box which you fought to escape from the whole way back. You never did like enclosed spaces.
When we got home you were not so impressed at first. I lived in a first floor flat and you sat at the bottom of the stairs looking suspicious. I sat with you and stroked your head and you hit me. No claws, just a smack. This went on periodically throughout the first day with the periods of stroking getting longer. Sometime that first evening you made the decision to stay. You walked upstairs and came into the lounge. You jumped up onto the arm of the sofa next to me and looked straight at me. I looked straight into your eyes and I knew we had reached an understanding. Thank you for trusting me all these years. It is the greatest compliment to be trusted so completely.
Since that day you followed me around like a puppy, barely leaving my side when I was at home. Even when you went outside you would come back in to check I was still there. I remember you didn't like it when I left the house to go out, or when I went to bed and you would fly at my legs and hold on, sometimes gently biting my ankles or knees. I always told you I would never leave you and I always came back, but still it helped to roll some treats across the floor so that I could retire unmolested. And so our first ritual started which persisted until you left me.
We had many more rituals you and I. Ones that wove themselves into our very existence so quietly that they became natural. There was the licking of the yogurt pot. How you loved anything dairy! I told you it was not good for you but still you loved it so much that I could not deny you a little now and then (you held no truck with that cat milk junk). You would patiently wait until I had finished and then I would ask you what you wanted. You would hold up your little paw (and sometimes dance from paw to paw in excitement) and meowingly ask nicely. You also liked my shoes and at bedtime would wait by my bed for my slippers which you would then lie on and purr while demanding fuss. You would answer to your name and come running when called and knew other human words too.
We have been through a lot together you and I: 3 homes (including 1 relocation to another city), 1 career change, 3 promotions since then (me, not you), 3 relationships (not counting ours), 1 wedding and then ultimately 1 separation and divorce (again, me), 2 teeth removal operations and 2 hospital stays including renal support (you, not me), numerous illness including surgery for fibroids (twice) and my recent thyroid surgery (you were an excellent nurse), 2 post grad qualifications and 1 MBA (me, though I know you helped), 2 family bereavements (human), 1 family estrangement and countless other ups and downs. Thank you for being there and never ever judging me.
You were beautiful, you were special, you were mine and I loved you dearly. Thank you for being my friend and my constant companion all these years. It has been a privilege and I will always treasure the time we had together. You died on 5th May this year. It was windy when I took you to the vets and it seemed that it had come to carry you away. That decision was the hardest thing I have ever had to do but it was time. You were tired.I stayed with you right to the end.
Missing you old friend. Rest well.