Nov 23, 2009

Beau's Story

History of Beau

Mother told me I was born on an auspicious evening, (as were my siblings) the full moon shone through the window into the comfortable box we were soon to share, and I was the first to enter this world. The first human to touch me was Ryan. He knew right away that I was the most awesome wonderful cat to come his way in a long time. He visited often and could hardly wait to take me home. Mother kissed me goodbye that day and told me to go on into life and make something of myself.

“Always remember,” she said, “flowing in your veins is the blood from a long line of true royalty. Your ancestors guarded the Temples of Egypt. They even rose in status to be considered sacred to the people. Our great ancestress, Bastet, was honored as divine. Bastet was loved so much that she became a household goddess, protector of women, children and all domestic cats.  She was also the goddess of sunrise, music, dance, pleasure, as well as family, fertility and birth. Wherever you go in life, my darling son, remember to keep your chin up and be proud of who you are. Yet, be humble, too.”

I didn’t give much thought to what Mother said at the time. I was so pleased to be in Ryan’s arms as he carried me away, content to begin my new life. With maturity I gained much greater respect and appreciation for all she tried to impart to me. I have never forgotten her wise words, as they have guided me all these years.

My years with Ryan were idyllic. He loved me best of all his kitties even though, as I grew, he began to see that I was not “show cat” material. He said it was because I was “knock-kneed”. I recall that Mother (and my siblings) held that it gave me a distinctive and debonair comportment.

I don’t think I would have much liked being a show cat. The others were always being prepared hour after hour, and sent off to their shows under a great deal of stress. I could hear them yowling as they road away. However, they often came back with an snooty, stuck-up attitude, as if those fancy ribbons gave them permission to act like they were superior. Didn’t they know that ALL Abyssinians are superior? There was no need for them to lord it over one another. This often caused a lot of jealousy and I tried my best to make peace among them. After all, as Ryan’s favorite, it was my duty to protect them from themselves and teach them some manners. Apparently their mothers forgot to tell them of their noble forebears.

As time passed they began to pay attention as I educated them regarding their family tree, and I don’t mean the tree that brushes against the window on a windy night! Some of the show cats were studs, but Ryan preserved me from that stinky business by taking me to the Veterinarian’s office. That place had quite an odd assortment of odoriferous intrigue, but before I could examine the sources, I soon found that I was drifting off to sleep. When I awoke I was aware of a dreadful ache near the bottom of my tail. I really felt sorry for myself, and was so glad when Ryan came to take me home. I purred on his lap all that evening. Previously, I had rarely occupied that position as I had felt compelled to make evening rounds. But, I slept cuddled and in his bed from that night forward. Knowing that I had no sacred temples to guard, I relaxed my vigil.

One day Ryan came home with a lovely lady named Serena. I thought she was nice, but I didn’t go running up to her right away. After all, I did have my reputation to preserve. Later, I often sat between her and Ryan and let her pet me, and give her polite purrs as she complemented my sleek form. She didn’t seem to enjoy my company whenever I ventured into bed in the evening very much, and I was taken aback when Ryan locked me out of our room! It was not too long after this that Serena fell quite ill with sneezing and itching. I could empathize, especially with the itching. I’ve had my share of it. Darned fleas! I tried giving her solace, even occasionally giving her a kind lick on the tip of her fingers when she reached to pet me. After all, Bastet had been the protector of women. I could do no less but to minister to her needs when she was not feeling well. And she grew to enjoy cuddling with me, while I fervently purred for her good health to return.

Before I knew it, one by one, the show cats all disappeared and did not return. Soon I was the only one left. I had survived almost seven years residing with Ryan and the show cats. I missed my kitty friends, but still, I had my Ryan to keep me company. It wasn’t long, however, until I learned that I was soon to make my departure, too. Ryan explained to me that he would always love me, but he loved Serena, too. Unfortunately, she was “allergic” to me and that was why I would have to go live elsewhere. I hoped it would be someone with an appreciation of my unique personality, didn’t have a bunch of show cats, nor allergies. Ryan promised me he would find a suitable match. Though I felt a little bothered by the circumstances, I began to reconcile myself and began to reflect upon my retirement years. Plus, who knows what new experiences I might have?

Ryan put an advertisement in the newspaper, and many responded. Ryan carefully screened them all before settling upon an elderly couple named Jim and Gennie. They were both in their eighties. Oh my! But the minute I walked in the door, I just knew this was it! Jim was like an old lost friend. He smelled so pleasant. He had a singing voice that made me want to meow happily, and he had nice big hands to for petting. He walked slowly so I could criss-cross through his legs as he went about.

Isn’t it odd, how life brings you down one corridor that seems to terminate in a dead-end? Then right there a new door opens, and suddenly you are out into the sunshine! That is exactly how I felt. I was encountering my destiny! I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Farewell Ryan!

I wrapped myself around Jim letting him know that I would be very happy to own him, and I could tell I would have him trained in no time, as the first thing he did was to understand every nuance of my communications. He fed me whenever I wanted, and whatever I wanted. Oh, I really grew so fat and sassy. I had little to do but bask in the warmth and attention, and give back my love and purrs in return. It was a little odd, though to be the only cat in the household. Yet, I learned I had been missing so much. More time to meditate upon the bugs crawling the screen, the flowers bouncing outside in the pots, the leaves swinging with the breeze. I had no idea how much I had missed ‘til I had this time to myself.

Though I preferred Jim’s company and sat upon his lap at every opportunity, especially while he read his paper, I found that Gennie was a perfectly nice lady who loved me immediately, too. They were both quite knowledgeable about my famous ancestors and gave me the respect I deserved. They bought me a wonderful cat tree (the kind made out of carpet) and placed it in the window so I could get just the right amount of sunlight and report back to them all the occurrences going on outside. These people knew how to treat me. That first night I leaped up onto their bed and snuggled down between them and that was the way it remained. They appreciated my company and never once suggested that I was the cause of any sneezes, coughs, puffy eyes or itchiness.  Though these delightful old folks did seem to have plenty of that going on already.

Then Jim and Gennie moved to another apartment where their son and daughter could visit more regularly. Often their grandchildren and great grandchildren visited too, always leaving me uneasy and exhausted. I was always polite to the little ones, and they petted me nice, but I would often retire to my sunlight to snooze while xthey visited. Sometimes I got a bit nostalgic during those visits, as I would think of my long lost siblings, and felt lonesome for the company of my show cats. It was an odd coincidence that Gennie, too, pined away for a kitty of her own. Though I was nice to her, she was well aware I was partial to Jim. She wanted a kitty of her own.

One day Gennie’s daughter brought home the most delightful lady cat I have ever met in my life, Miss Boo Boo! Oh what a delightful addition to my life! I was in kitty heaven. For me, it was love at first sight! I could hardly wait to get acquainted. I guess I was a bit too forward when I walked right up to her and touched her nose with mine. I was anxious to become familiar with her, and she just skittered away. I was embarrassed and knew right away she was uncomfortable, so I went into the other room while she got acclimated to her new home. That evening, I could hear her shivering so I invited her to come lay down on the bed with me, and our people. Soon, we realized how perfectly compatible we were. We developed a bond just like the one Jim and Gennie had. All four of us shared the big bed.

As time went by we moved into a smaller apartment closer to the grand-daughter. We saw our lovely people having a harder time managing things. Gennie had lost her eye sight, and had a hard time walking but she had spirit. Jim took care of us all, even though he was tired and needed oxygen. I always thought what a gallant soul he was, to watch after his Gennie. Still, she was able to sit in her chair and enjoy the antics of my dear sweet Boo Boo, who entertained us all with her acrobatics. She was remarkable to say the least. The way she would use her tail to help her fly from the back of Gennie’s chair across to the sofa was astonishing, and delighted us all. I always gave her a little kiss when she was finished. I was a little more sedate than BooBoo, and took pleasure following Jim around overseeing all his activities. If he went to retrieve something out of the cupboard I was there to peer inside to evaluate every object, analyzing if all was in it’s place. If he began to fix something on the counter, I stood on my hind legs, and stretched myself out full-length to see what Jim was doing. Well, you know what they say about a Cat’s curiosity. That is how I got the nickname, “The Inspector”. But I was still a gentleman and never jumped up on counters or tables.

Then came the sad day when Jim informed me that he and Gennie were moving away to a nursing home. This time my sweet Boo Boo and I were not going to be able to move with them. We all had tears in our eyes. I became uneasy, and Boo Boo was in low spirits. But, their granddaughter Varsha, who was visiting from Indiana, put us in her air-conditioned SUV and drove us 480 miles north. My poor Boo became a little car sick on the way. I did everything I could to console her. I sang songs, romantic songs to her which she liked. But, Varsha apparently didn’t like my singing. Just the same we enjoyed all the interesting sights, sounds and smells along the way.

The end of our journey came, and we were surprised that we were at the home of Elizabeth, who is Jim and Gennie’s older daughter. We were glad to realize this. We knew Elizabeth. She had come to visit us many times in the past and we remembered her as a lady who admired and appreciated us. As a people she was quite cat-like and spoke our language, well a little bit, with an undecipherable accent. But she tried valiantly to communicate in ways to make us comfortable. We remembered when she brought the feather toy and had us playing like kittens again. I also remembered her elderly Calico Queen who we immediately learned to respect. We especially remembered the fresh catnip she brought us, and were ecstatic to learn that it was growing right outside, just on the other side of the screen door! Elizabeth had a very large Catnip farm it seemed to us. To quote a well-known phrase, “We were not in Kansas anymore!!!”

From that point on we decided that Elizabeth would be our Auntie EM, even though, theoretically, she could be considered our sister. As fanciful as this new life was to be, still we missed our beloved Jim and Gennie. Anytime Auntie EM called them on the telephone, we could hear their voices. Often we would meaow our hellos, and tell them how much we loved them, and missed them. But, truly, it is complicated to translate our language over such a device. We knew Jim and Gennie immensely missed us, too. We grew concerned that our separation from them might be detrimental. After all they were attempting to adjust to their new environment in the nursing home, and missing us was hard on them. So, too ease the tragedy of our separation, we decided we would do the uncharacteristic, and reveal the knowledge we had of the human language by writing them cards and letters to bring some cheerfulness into their changing lives. Within about a year we had mastered the art of computer letter writing, which was much easier on our de-clawed digits.

As time went by our existence with Auntie EM took on a new dimension. Since she had a large back yard with very tall fence surrounding it, she let her own Miss Keli outside regularly. Keli can barely leap from the floor to climb up on the bed, so any idea of her escaping out of the backyard was preposterous. At first Auntie EM struggled to take care of our litter boxes, and to keep us inside while Keli was outside. She had a tendency to tease us especially while rolling in the catnip. Soon Auntie EM gave up her vigilance and we had a few forays out into that fascinating world. Auntie decided we could be trusted outside so the door remained open from that time on for us to come and go as we pleased.

They say that Cats have nine lives and this was definitely a new incarnation for us. We had only viewed this outer world all our lives and here we were out in it. We soon learned to enjoy it to the max. BooBoo liked to play chase with the lizards, hang out with Keli in the sun, chat with the hummingbirds who came to visit, and during damp weather, she liked to lay out in the round bed inside the garden shed. I, on the other hand, had more sense, and stayed inside where it was less damp.

Sometimes Auntie EM would have to go away to the hospital and her boyfriend came and took care of us. Funny! Here was a human named, Kats!!! When he first met us, he was afraid. That did not put me off. I soon had this Cat hater, (he claimed) bending to my will. Soon he was well trained. Whenever he came to visit, he always fed us before he even greeted Auntie. I liked to make him nervous by brushing up against his legs or tickling him with my tail. I always laughed when he jumped. But, still we knew he loved us.

After living with our dear Auntie EM and her wicked cat Keli (only kidding) about two and a half years, the phone calls with Jim and Gennie were less relaxed. We could tell something was terribly wrong. We seldom got to hear the voice of our Dear Jim, anymore, though we meowed messages to him when Auntie EM was on the phone with them. We knew that Jim was seriously ill. All these years he had been the one in good health and taking loving care of Gennie, and now he could do nothing but lay there, sad and frustrated. Then, Auntie EM went away for several weeks. No more phone calls to sing to Gennie and Jim. We could hear Kats and Auntie EM talking in hushed tones. Then Auntie EM came home with many of Jim’s clothes. She set them on the floor and we were soon sniffing them. BooBoo was sad and went to lie down with Keli. I was so glad to smell my Darling Jim in those clothes that I rolled all over them for days. As I mentioned before, Auntie EM has a great understanding of Kitties, and she knew it was important for me to say good bye to my Jim this way. It took a while for my grief to heal. Auntie let me have some of his shirts until I let her know that I was no longer interested in them.

Life must go on. Now we were in the delicate position of making a decision whether to continue our cards and letters to our Dear Gennie. But, we knew it was too stressful for her to try to read anything we wrote as she cannot see well, or for her to get any staff people to take the time to read to her. Because Jim had always been the one to read our messages to her, it was painful for her to have anyone else read them. So, from that time on, BooBoo kept up her loyal communications whenever Auntie EM was on the telephone talking to Gennie.

I have to admit that with Jim gone, my affections turned to Kats. I could hardly wait for him to come over to visit. And Auntie EM’s son, Xavier came to visit and we became good friends too. We knew that we would never see our Jim and Gennie again. We knew we would always be with our Auntie EM, her little “witch cat” (only kidding) and our wonderful Kats. But we are not in our first lifetime. Getting closer to that ninth life all the time. And, we have enough experience under our fur to understand that life is full of changes, nothing remains the same, and there are new adventures to be accomplished.

Please note: Beau and BooBoo left us a year or so after this was written. I guess Jim and Gennie were calling them home.


Author said...

I like to think Beau and BooBoo were being called home ~ and even more I like to imagine your beloved Mom and Dad with a cat each, on their knees, in Heaven.

Elizabeth Munroz said...

I'm sure Beau is sitting upon Dad's lap and Mom is reaching out for BooBoo, who had a tendency to get up on the back of the chair and reach down a bit so Mom could reach up and pet her. I think BooBoo knew that sitting on Mom's lap might hurt her. But, of course, now, as Mom reaches up for Boo, she is able to cuddle her in her arms. Though Boo was not with her when she died, the last thing she touched was my sister's purring cat.