Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stepping Back into Memories

Last evening as I sat on the porch cleaning the kale and collards from our garden, some deer crossed our drive leisurely looking for a snack. Their appearance reminded me of a special cat we had a few years ago. When he died, he took a piece of my heart with him though we only had him a brief 2 1/2 years. Below is his story I wrote for his memory.

A Genius for Friendship November 2003


Homer walked up to me and began talking as though he had known me all of his life. Though he was abandoned, there was no distress in his voice, just a conversational tone of "Hi, how are you; how's your day" kind of meow. He was a massively large black and white with the familiar black mask around his eyes and was more white than black. After going back home and retrieving a cat carrier and some food, I returned to Homer's hangout. He immediately greeted me and before I could put the opened can of tuna in the carrier, he leapt inside and sat down as if to say, "I'm ready to go, why are you fussing with that can?"

All of the way to the vet he continued his conversation as though I was able to understand every word he said and once there, sat patiently on the table while the vet poked and prodded. Sadly the test results came back: advanced feline leukemia. The vet recommended euthanasia but this gentle giant with a genius for friendship had already captured my heart. It was decided: he would stay with us but separate from our 8 other cats.

Homer immediately took over the garage and several acres on our farm. Each morning a small herd of 10 -15 deer would walk up to the house and Homer would meet them, touching noses with the alpha deer and greeting each of the others in turn. After this morning ritual he would return to my side on the porch where I drank my tea and continue his conversation of meows and trills, maintaining eye contact with those huge aquamarine pools of love and inquisitiveness.

There is no doubt in our family that Homer more than earned his keep. Moles and mice plagued our neighbors but the only trace of these pests at our farm would be their limp cadavers in our yard, neatly placed for our appreciation by the Master Hunter. Reptile parts would alert us that we did indeed have lizards and snakes but they did not reside long in Homer's domain.

Homer had no fear of dogs either. The most hyperactive canine would be greeted with the familiar and casual nose touch and a rub from Homer who would then proceed about his business, the canine often following docilely, as though Homer were a general in his own four-legged army.

Two years passed and the feline leukemia finally gained the upper paw. Diabetes onset and kidney failure attacked our Friend. Homer's bright aquamarine eyes remained alert and he fought bravely but in the end was subdued in spite of the IV fluids I administered to him.

Homer's genius for friendship continued long after he was gone. For two months the deer continued to come up to our house, searching and sniffing, looking for their Friend. His dog soldiers searched diligently for their fallen general but eventually stopped after a time. The deer no longer come close to the house but remain at the edge of the woods, looking wistfully our way and the dogs come no more.

Goodbye, Dear Friend Homer, until we meet in God's Garden.

That's me away.

4 comments:

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

That is such a sweet story! Jack and I were once adopted by a stray kitten. But the cat I remember most is when we lived in an old home here in town and took care of a lot of strays. One was a big black and white like your Homer. And he talked all the time! The only pictures I have of him he has is mouth open because he was yapping all the time! LOL! We called him the Rabbi because of the markings on his head and the fact that he liked to talk so much. Like he was teaching the others and us! His name was not meant as an insult to those of jewish faith but rather a tribute.

Therese said...

what a beautiful tribute to Homer. We were given a kitten this year and before having her I didn't realize how loving and what a great pet they are.

PandaBean said...

Oh how sad it is to lose a member of the family. Fur-babies are just as close as children at times. My husband grew up with a cat, his "big brother", and for the longest time he had a picture of him on his desk at work, but not one of me! :D His cat died shortly before he graduated high school from simple old age. Now if we ever get a cat (meaning we have to have a place for the litterbox) it has to be a Russian or British Blue, nothing else will do!

God Bless!

deb said...

We just had to put our eight year old cat to sleep. She had bone cancer and was obviously suffering, so we had little choice. I miss her very much.

Like your cat, ours had a distinct character. We adopted a lab puppy who tortured our poor cat with his boundless desire to chase her. She spent a good bit of time hiding on the fridge. That is until she got tired of the whole affair. One night I heard horrible screaming coming from the kitchen. Our puppy came tearing out and huddled at my feet. Stripes, the cat, came slowly out of the kitchen and walked very calmly up to the puppy, her nose almost touched his. She stood their eyeing him, obviously letting him know that he was too big now for her to endure his roughness. Then she walked very slowly away, as if saying 'see, I have no fear of you." He never bothered her again.


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