Sunday, February 14, 2016

Every Time We Say Goodbye, I Wonder Why a Little

When a Man Loves a Feline 2

"Is that any way for a man to carry on
Do you think he wants his little loved one gone?
I love you, more than you'll ever know
More than you'll ever know." - Al Kooper

The Sad and Inevitable Conclusion of a Remarkable Relationship

A vacation should be a fun, relaxing and even joyous occasion, a breather from the stress and tedium of the 5 o’clock world.  The return from this sabbatical, although usually a little disappointing, and a tad of a letdown, is not, generally, a heartbreaking event.  This, however, was a poorly-timed retreat, one, in retrospect, best not taken - a  guilt-filled cruise to the Caribbean, a situation without early exit if one required or desired it. Moreover, homecoming was delayed three days by the most recent of our now regularly scheduled, post-climate change, snow storms of the century.  As the journey I was so desperate to continue remained impeded, and while in the care of a loving, dedicated and concerned sitter, my aged cat’s aging process and his many maladies finally proved too much for his increasingly fragile system. 

When finally repatriated, and at an immediate emergency vet visit, the somnambulant Spanky experienced an unexpected rally, a sudden and short burst of energy and life in my arms, reaching his head up to mine for some intense head rubbing and voluble and blissful purring. After a few minutes, that strength once again waned, and but a few more minutes after that, he was gone.  Very regretfully, I missed his final days and my responsibility to comfort him through his most difficult time. But, he waited for me, without benefit of either weather reports or flight tracking software, Spanky waited for me, and in his last real moments of life, clearly communicated his love and a sincere goodbye.

“Louie, I Think this is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship"

And in Spanky’s wake, days of fitful slumber, days of expectations of an almost two decade presence happily trotting in from the next room, days of a deep apathy and a deeper aching.  In July of 1996, at the Humane Society of New York, a 3 month old kitten, almost dangerously underfoot, trailed my every step and demanded my urgent and unremitting attention - and that was how Spanky, then known as Mr. French, selected me.  In January 2016, some 72 lonely hours after losing Spanky, a return to that same wonderful rescue shelter brought a new furry life to my attention and my acquaintance. Going by the handle, Rhianna, she now answers to the name, Darla, in keeping with the successful Little Rascals tradition of her beloved forebearer. And her perilous mission, should she decide to accept it, is to restore my sanity, as tenuous as it may be

This adoption and eager embracement of a new needy waif, is not, in any way, a replacement of Spanky, that would be an impossibility of which even Perry Como could not have fathomed; but rather, a living tribute to the memory and eternal impact of a specific and singular bond. The saving of another worthy life, from a cage in a shelter, honors a cat so special that, once having had his company, it became almost unthinkable and unfeasible to not enjoy the fulfilling friendship of a fellow feline.

Every Time We Say Goodbye, I Wonder Why a Little
We were a duo advancing in age together, keeping each other company (who else would have us), sometimes cantankerous, sometimes cross, with the occasional ornery argument and a mutual comprehension and easy interspecies interaction and understanding that at times, still amazes. The older and frailer he became, the more our connection coalesced. No matter what others may theorize about the true nature of relationships between people and their pets, their likely limitations and the anthropomorphization applied by the yearning human imagination, I know Spanky loved me, of that I have no doubt.  I can also state that, with some concrete certainty, he was fully aware of my unwavering, abiding affection for him.

To Spanky. To Darla.

I’ve got a cat on me
Where a cat ought to be.
Sprawled out flat on my lap,
For his ninth daily nap.
When he wakes he will mew
For a can of cat stew.
Til he finishes, then
He’ll be sleeping again.
That’s a feline existence,
Free of any resistance.
With no struggle or strife
How I envy that life.
When I pass to the grave
If my soul can be saved,
Please, oh Heavenly chorus
Make me a Tom or a Morris.

First, from the premiere album of, possibly, the most under-rated and under-appreciated band of the classic rock era, Blood Sweat and Tears and “I Love You More than You’ll Ever Know,” followed by a bonus track, a live Ella Fitzgerald performance of “Every Time We Say Goodbye.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.