However, in her brief time with them, they had been ceremoniously escorted to our sundeck, which was no doubt seen to be a place of sanctuary. Sure enough, several days after mother's death, and after we'd already found one poor raccoon-killed body, Chuck showed up. His traffic light eyes (one green, one blue) were a dead giveaway. So I set a trap—a bowl of milk—-grabbed a scruffy little neck, then sat with him wrapped in a towel while Margaret rushed to a friend's house to borrow her cat taxi! Needless to say, one look at him and our animal shelter plans vanished. We had a cat. No, let's be accurate: Chuck had us!
Chuck . . .
September 1993 - November 11th 2004
He was there in the morning, stretched out on me, gently pawing my face. "Breakfast time Mummy." He was back on our bed for his early morning wash until we got up for real. He was there whilst Bob ate his grapefruit, cereal and toast; sitting on the newspapers (or book) carefully watching every mouthful. "Soon it will be my turn to have some of your breakfast". There
followed the almost desperate scurry to get to bed, where he became a
bump under the comforter, just below the pillow.
His day always followed the same pattern: sleep until mid-afternoon, then
wander around the house to find the most congenial comfortable spot for
an afternoon nap or a little entertainment. Perhaps lie on top of the
sectional, basking in the sun, maybe sit on Mummy whilst she made a phone
call, try draping himself around the back of Bob's computer chair and wait
none too patiently for the magical 4pm supper time. Then sit with Daddy until dinnertime: in winter in the movie room, but in summer to wander casually around the sun deck watching the birds and the river.
His mother was a feral cat we had been feeding on our Gowan Avenue sundeck for several years. Where she had come from, there was no telling. Our guess was that she'd simply been abandoned. One thing was obvious: this was a gentle, once loving, cat. She sat and gazed at us while posing beautifully, but would never come inside.
He spent his first weeks in a patch of weeds at
the bottom of the neighbour's garden. One fateful
day, when Chuck was half weaned, the absentee
landlord decided to cut the grass. The kittens fled
and, while she was searching frantically for them,
mother was run over in the street outside our door.
We'd planned to capture Chuck and his siblings
and take them to the animal shelter, but now assumed they were lost.
Was it those ten minutes, when I tried to stroke reassurance and safety into a scared kitten, that led him to be so loving? Whatever the reason, once he'd gotten used to us Chuck became a lap cat. Right up to his last evening on Earth, when he sat with us in the TV room until it was time to carry him to his bed. .
On Memorial Day, 2004, after a sad week in which we watched him gradually succumb to kidney failure, we let Chuck go. Margaret's eloquent words will tell you what life was like with our "(Spoiled) Son of Older Parents."
November 11th, 2004: wrapped in Bob's old dressing gown, the
one that had long ago become his, Chuck died in Bob's arms. Poor little fellow, he didn't know what was happening to him. All this time, we were sitting in a comfortable upper office room at the vet's. We said our last goodbyes, closed his eyes, gently positioned his paws, covered him completely, and left him on the settee.
The house seemed so empty on our return, for he had always been there, waiting for us to come home. "Where've you been? What have you brought me back?" Characteristically a scrounger and opportunist, he was very special, much beloved, but in return gave of his love and warmth. The soft glow of our life has been extinguished. He had become a part of us, and every inch of this house holds a memory of him. Everywhere I go and everywhere I am, I think of him.
Where's Chuck? I needed to know where he was, and have spent so much of the last six years in Campbellford looking around the house for him. Is he a bump in the bed? Is he in his cat basket in the bedroom? (Used only for approximately two weeks in the year) Is he behind the TV in the movie room? Is he on one of the dining room chairs, hidden by the table? Wherever, he would have found the warmest, most comfortable, place possible.
Next spring, his ashes will be buried at the base of the tree by the river, where in time he will become part of the earth, and lie undisturbed for evermore.