~by Louis Templeman
May 18, 2015: A Letter to Jet
In our home in Charlottesville in 1992, my children had a white cat they called Joseph. He was very friendly, safe and he enjoyed the run of the house. But things changed when Mary had a litter and we kept two of the kittens. In Joseph’s mind his domain had become a playground. He did not sign up for that. In short order he moved next door. He became an inside cat and found a new domain. When I would occasionally see him he would ignore me when I called him. He’d yawn, turn his head and close his eyes as if to say, “Joseph? Who’s Joseph?”
That is what I hope you have done, Jet. That you found a home with better food and more comfortable furniture to scratch. My fear is one of the cars on the county road that runs past our front yard or one of the hunting dogs or pits that live in our neighborhood and who break free now and then run the neighborhood caught you unawares. A car or a dog, that’s a possibility. One, I cannot bear to consider.
I remember how, as a kitten you would jump from a chair and land on my shoulders and ride there until your tail fluffing about in my face reached critical mass. You were not so different as an adult. Three or four times over the last two years at our new home you would find me working in our flower bed on my hands and knees. You were not afraid of work. You could sleep right next to it, peacefully upon my back as I pulled weeds. Once when I was planting zinnias you watched me dig holes to drop my plants in. You took a particular likening to one. I remember reaching for a zinnia. When I pulled it from its plastic pot to place it in the hole I found you squatting over it doing your business. I suppose you appreciated the idea of me digging your potty holes for you.
I saved a gold finch and then a cardinal from your jaws. You are a real hunter. I watched you catch the cardinal. He was in the bird bath. You stalked in a silent stretching stillness under the bird bath and once in the shade of the bowl and out of sight of the bird you bounded, leapt, twisted in midair and as your head and claws cleared the rim you were facing and reaching out and snagging Mr. Red Bird. Fortunately I was able to run outside and call you gently before you dined. You stayed put until I could reach you. I put a hand firmly on each shoulder and you dropped your prey. In both instances the birds took their cue and flew furiously out over the fence toward the camphor trees down the street. And, of course, I cannot forget you catching and wrestling with that squirrel who was feeding on the bird’s sunflower seeds. You could not pin him but your game was on.
I even miss you snoozing on the stoop at my front door. How many times did I try to open the glass door only to have to wait for you to look at me and then wait for you to recognize that I wanted to come out? You would finally catch on, yawn really big, stretch real good with your tail end stuck up in the air as if you were trying to get a better radio signal. I would usually have to give you a little bump, and then you would look at me as if to say, “Really!”
Most of all I will miss you interacting with your twin, Flo – Flotsam and Jetsam my jet black kittens. You two are wonderfully peculiar; the first cats I’ve ever had who learned the sound of my vehicle and would meet me at the driver’s door as I got out. I’ve watched you two cuddle, play and have spats for three years. Flo seems a little lost without you. He is extra cuddly since you’ve been gone. I am so happy he is still with me. But, we both really miss you. I really do miss my gardening buddy. If tears were ink I could write all day. I guess this is, “Good-bye.” I hope you know that over here where I live you are remembered.”
Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.
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