Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bereavement and Loss

It was a warm day in early October of 2010 when we prepared to set out on our cross Canada road trip to Prince Edward Island, where we were to live with Merrill’s ninety something mother. I had been packing for a month when we finally got everything we were taking crammed in. We said our goodbye’s to our friends and loaded the two cat cages in my van. 

We set out from Penhold, Alberta this fine, sunny morning with two overloaded vehicles and an almost bursting trailer with a handmade box hitched to Merrill’s van. The three noisy and complaining cats; Boo, Molly and Sassy, were none too pleased to be locked inside their carriers; Molly and Sassy were small enough to share. Actually it started out ok but then Boo decided he did want to play road trip anymore he started with a yowly complaint which got his companions doing the same. Have you ever been cooped up with three caterwauling, wailing cats that just want to go back home?  For a week no less! 

We stopped in Hannah, Alberta where little Molly got away on us and we had to gain the assistance of a kind gentlemen in a local lumber yard to use her leash to pull her out from under a huge lumber pile that look as though it could have collapsed on her, otherwise she would have become a permanent resident of that little town!  The whole scary scene was not lost on Sassy or Boo and after that, all three of them balked at the very notion of leaving the sanctity of their carriers; for the rest of the six days we were on the road they had to pulled out just to clean their confines. 

It was a blessing that the rest of the trip was largely and in seven days, we arrived. It was like another planet to them as they cautiously crept out of the carriers and into the room we were to call our own; they didn’t know what to make of the change. 

During the next two years they learned where home was when they were outside and usually stayed close other than investigating the only neighbor we had who lived across the road from us in large home with its expansive yard or the massive field behind the house where the owners grew potatoes. Sometimes I’d see them out in the small cemetery next to the house, catching mice. I could always call them in and when they hesitated, a shake of their treat bag never failed. They got used to being outside again and I never had any real problem with getting them in but lately Merrill’s mother was getting very forgetful and letting Boo out at night. Usually all my cats were indoors before the sun went down but I was working nights and Merrill usually got home late. He had absolutely refused to come in when called. 

The phone was for me that morning. Through a fog the neighbor was telling me she saw a black cat that she thought was dead just outside her yard… this sent me flying out the door and running across the road. It was Boo. 
Tux Cat sleeps on box

Sleepy tuxedo cat
My baby Boo and his brother Greymalk; I had found them both one winter in a freezing barn on a farm we were living on in Alberta. The mother was skin and bones and all her other kittens had died, their little wasted bodies strewn around the snow crusted yard. A visitor to the farm took the mother cat to a cattle and horse auction where she apparently found a home and did well. Her two tiny kittens, one completely grey with a little white mark on his head; the other black with a little white under his chin, were left screaming in the barn. The tiny black kitten, whose eyes were sealed shut from neglect, came screaming towards any source of noise hoping to find his mother and survival. That day he found me. 

I bundled them up and took them home, nursed them back to health and they became our first pets in Alberta. Some years before our move to the island and before Sassy’s time I lost Greymalk, now I had lost Boo as well. There was little to console me. Boo was a very special animal and I missed him dearly. It turned out that Sassy had a surprise in store for us that would honor her friend and companion Boo and help heal the wounds of losing him.


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