Tuesday, November 9, 2010

THE OLD DEAR
1988-2010




Time is everything. A time to live, a time to enjoy, and a time to die.

In the spring, nearly 21 years ago, a one-year old cat established an outpost on the fence in my yard. She seemed to like the yard and stayed all day and on into evening, finally convincing someone to feed her.

Yesterday she left for good. After insinuating herself into the lives of all who live here, slowly at first and then for so long a time I feared she might well outlive me and I would have to put her in my Will, she went to sleep for the last time.

After a month of exceedingly good behavior and unusal energy, she came to a near full stop last Monday. She ate nothing, her gait became unsteady and by yesterday, her mentation as well. She never had an agreed upon proper name here---she was known to the Veternary as "Kitt" with the second "t" added so that the computer would accept it as a name. As the years went by, so many years, since she first arrived unbidden on the fencepost, she became "Dear One," and in the end, "The Old Dear."

Her Vitae became known in a telephone call on July 4th, some three months after she decided she liked it here despite the dog. A woman's voice asked if the cat that we had found and posted the signs about answered to the name "Cleo." My answer was simple and abrupt. "How the hell should I know? She wandered in here three months ago and didn't bother to introduce herself."

Presently, an elderly woman who, we were to learn, left her outside her home to de-mouse the yard while she was in Israel arrived. She explained that the neighbors were to keep an eye on her cat. Apparently the hadn't. She claimed her "Cleo," and we assumed that was that. Three days later, the woman drove into the driveway as we were leaving. She annouced that the cat was setting off the alarms in the house trying  get out and otherwise annoying her. She had taken her to the vet who pronounced her fit but "depressed." She was on the way to the shelter to exchange her but if we wanted her we could have her. While she summarized this state of affairs a cardboard box rolled back and forth in near silence in the back seat as if it had life . Sending the creature back seem a bad choice to the members of our household. So she opened the door of the car, the box rolled onto the drive, and "Cleo" ran from it into  our garage and the rest is history.

For the next 20 years she saw me off to work in the morning, walked over me on the way to bed each night, and stood on my chest on Sundays purring or snorting loudly because I had not arisen before dark. She seemed puzzled about why she had not    been fed and never grasped what was different about weekends. She did not cuddle, barely tolerated petting, although would permit her ears to be rubbed.  She never went from point A to point B without first visting point C. She taught me much about the Type C personality. 

She was sure of her own way and made it without much fuss. On occassion she would find us if she thought she had been neglected or her biological clock told her that a meal was late. She never weighed more than nine pounds but had the constitution of the energizer bunny.  Her vet rhapsodized about her "perfect" blood work and said she had the body of a 6 year old at her last check-up four months ago.

Goodbye Old Dear. Thanks for the memories.