If a long life is a life well-lived, then Rosie, who left us on Wednesday at the age of seventeen and a half, lived a very good life.

Rosie was one of a litter of kittens born to a cat owned by a family at the boys’ school. We were not in need of a cat, not that anyone ever is.  But there was no way Daniel could get to his classroom without walking past the cardboard box alive with little black kittens, and so, home came Rosie.  We created a long list of clever names, but Daniel was resolute. This was his cat and she was going to be called Rosie, and thus it was.

The passage of time: Daniel with Rosie

Ah, the passage of time: Daniel with Rosie

As it turned out, Rosie was not Daniel’s nor anyone else’s cat. She was the Greta Garbo of felines.  She just “vanted to be alone”.  From early kittendom on, Rosie lived life on her terms. She didn’t want to be petted or picked up, and if you crossed that boundary you would be rewarded with a hefty ration of yowling, spitting and hissing. The other animals – all of them – steered clear of Rosie. If Rosie sat on the stairs, Soho would neither go up nor down, so fearful was she of the wrath of Rosie.

Phyllis meets the daunting Rosie

Phyllis meets the daunting Rosie

In her younger days, Rosie would sometimes disappear for two or three days, then turn up looking no worse for the wear. Once, she was inadvertently locked into the maid’s quarters that now serves as my office. In those days it was unoccupied, so getting on the wrong side of that door could have been a death sentence. She lived in there for almost a week before being discovered, and strolled out as nonchalantly as if it had been her idea all along. Rosie was often insistent about staying out all night and we came to the conclusion that if there was a contest between her and a coyote, our money was on Rosie.

"You talkin to me?"

“You talkin to me?”

Rosie was, without questions, a survivor. But according to our vet, no cat can survive the mouth tumor she had developed.  He said this particular malignancy does not respond to surgery, radiation or chemotherapy and that it is 100% fatal. By the time we realized what was wrong, the vet urged us not to let her linger too long.

What Rosie saw: just in case you think "squirrely" is hyperbole.

What Rosie saw: just in case you think “squirrely” is in any way hyperbolic.

In her seventeen years, Rosie saw our boys grow up, from squirrely little kids to serious high-schoolers and then, in a blink of her inscrutable yellow eyes, the house became quiet as they went off to college.  When the CE had his foot surgery a few years ago and bunked down in the pool house, Rosie joined him there and basked in her role as “only” cat. The two of them forged a bond and in her last year, Rosie’s favorite pastime was lounging on a pillow next to the CE while he worked in his study.

Rosie on her "throne"

Rosie on her “throne”

And so, for her last few days, that pillow became her throne. She had basically stopped eating, but the CE enticed her with sips of cream and held a saucer of water for her so she could drink without having to get up. As he put it, among the other things we offer our pets, they each get “hospice care” at the end. We kept Rosie as comfortable as possible, but by Wednesday morning, it was clear that she was not comfortable at all. The tumor was pressing on her trachea and each breath took more effort than her little aged body could muster.

We'll remember how much Rosie liked her naps in the sunshine.

We’ll remember how much Rosie liked her naps in the sunshine.

It would be an overstatement to say that Rosie, with all that hissing and growling, was a “beloved” pet. But she was our pet, and we shed tears for her at the end. We stroked her still-velvety fur as the vet administered the injection that gave her escape from suffering. The CE dug a grave for her in a place of honor next to Dizzy and now she rests there under the oaks through which she prowled for almost two decades.

I know that the loss of a pet does not register next to the loss of a human loved one, and I would not pretend that our grief has any real merit. But we have lost two cats in the past months; two witnesses to what was a family and is now just an old couple growing older. It hurts. However insignificant it may have been, that black kitty had a place in this world and in our memory. Farewell, little Rosie.

The Cat and the MoonThe cat went here and thereAnd the moon spun round like a top,And the nearest kin of the moon,The creeping cat, looked up.Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,For, wander and wail as he would,The pure cold light in the skyTroubled his animal blood.Minnaloushe runs in the grass

Lifting his delicate feet.

Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?

When two close kindred meet,

What better than call a dance?

Maybe the moon may learn,

Tired of that courtly fashion,

A new dance turn.

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass

From moonlit place to place,

The sacred moon overhead

Has taken a new phase.

Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils

Will pass from change to change,

And that from round to crescent,

From crescent to round they range?

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass

Alone, important and wise,

And lifts to the changing moon

His changing eyes.

— William Butler Yeats

© design by gratefulness team

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in All Things Family, Sad, Spoiled Pets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rosie

  1. Katherine says:

    It’s always brutal to lose a member of the family and you’ve lost more than your share this year. I shed more tears reading this even though I expected it was coming. (I did howl with laughter at the photo of the boys – THAT was unexpected.)

    Rosie is, once again, off on an adventure with you but, in my mind, enjoying herself and you’ll be reunited again someday. Just as if she’d been in the maid quarters for a while.

    Big hugs to you.

  2. dizzyguy says:

    As you can see, the Chicken Lady has crafted a masterful send off for Rosie. And it is the tie back into the family for nearly two decades that provokes reflection on childhoods now ended, other pets who have gone ahead of Rosie, and just that old standby – the passage of time. Rosie was not a cuddly creature, but she was one of God’s making and a part of our family history. This blog will help us remember her contributions to the family (some of which required disinfectant and bandaids!). I will focus on the last couple of years when the old hellcat had settled down a bit and she seemed to enjoy her dotage resting nicely on the pillow in my library.

  3. alexandra says:

    Oh I’m so sorry to hear. I remember you saying recently that you thought she was in her last weeks. I will miss Rosie. That photo of Daniel and Taylor is priceless! Please post more of those.

  4. Mrs. G says:

    I am so sorry about Rosie….this piece complete with such wonderful photos struck a huge “passing of time” note… to all out there.

  5. Nancy says:

    I will remember coming upon the shadowy shadow that was Rosie the cat as I entered the dim hallway from the brightness of your laundry room. She moved not a hair as I nearly stumbled upon her and froze, not trusting my eyes. Then she stood (slowly) turned (slowly) and left (slowly), disappearing into the darkness of your bedroom at the end of the hall, in that moment telling me it was her house, she knew I was there, and that I would not see her again (though I still was unsure that I’d seen her at all).

    You took her in against your better judgment, in her infinite cat wisdom she always came back, of course you will miss her.

  6. pollo amigo says:

    Very sorry about Rosie. I’ll remember her on her pillow near the C.E.’s computer. She had a good life with loving family every day of her long life,

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