When Juli and I married we combined two households of animals. For myself I just had Skoodles, the cat my daughter adopted, but the cat adopted me. Juli had Ginger, also a human adopting cat, Pixie the long-haired, loud mouth that she rescued, Sheena the black cocker spaniel, and Buster the cockatiel.
As most human and animal relationships go, we have lost furry and feathery house mates over the years. Buster was the first to find his way into the flower bed, and within a year Sheena was gone from our lives. I found myself burying her at 3:00 AM by headlights ahead of an approaching snow storm.
We moved, an for a time we and the three remaining fur babies pasted along quite contently. Ginger, an independent outdoor cat, Pixie, the stand-offish ‘Mouth of the South’ and Skoodles, the snuggly, more demur of the bunch. But it was not to last, a few years ago at around 15 years old Skoodles finished her course one summer evening and was laid to rest in the back yard.
Ginger, as I said, was the independent one. She was an outdoor cat by choice. She spent one winter indoors with Pixie when they were younger, but as soon as the weather warmed she was ready to go out. This was a winter that Juli had pneumonia and Ginger stayed by her side the entire time she was sick. For a couple years in cold weather she would come in the front door, wander through to the back door and be ready to go out again. The last two years when the weather got cold we had a covered litter box which we put a heating pad in the bottom covered with some towels and she never made the walk through again, she was a rugged individualist to the end. Don’t get me wrong, she would take her petting like a big girl, but she wasn’t a huggy, cuddly type.
But the end finally came. She wasn’t in her box, she wasn’t in her usual sunning spots on the east side of the house or in the neighbor’s shrubs. Her food bowl went untouched for two days. It wasn’t unusual to not see her for a day or two, I suppose she went off exploring, but her food always got eaten. So yesterday morning I went walking around the house and woods behind. Finally I found her on the west side of the house, she was laid down as if she had had been there for the sunset. There were tears, and the acknowledgement of her long life which was full and independent to the end. She now rests beside Skoodles marker, a tire filled with potting soil awaiting the return of spring flowers, nearby daffodils are beginning to come up. Another tire will be found and filled with potting soil and flower seeds to mark Ginger’s spot this week.