Posted by: AgingChild | October 25, 2008

“In what distant deep, or skies…”

Mrs. John Bosco – his former owner (or ownee) – was on the send-to list of yesterday’s note on Tiger; she has a very deep and compassionate soul, and shared with me her own measure of sorrow: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Mrs. Bosco
Sent:
Friday, October 24, 2008 5:05 PM

To: ‘Aging Child’
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright  

Gene, 

I share your sorrow in Tiger’s passing. I thank you with all my heart, for giving him such a loving home to live out his life while I tried to be there for [some strong family demands of my own]. I did get to see Tig during a visit just prior to your Mom taking ill so I know he was a happy kitty with all of you. I know too that these companions are not people; but, special comforters sent by God to bring some measure of unquestioning love into our sometimes bleak lives. I thank God for the joy of Tiger, and all my other pets over the years. They have been great, helping to soften sad times and heighten the happy ones. We have been blessed with them in our lives. 

Thanks again for being Tiger’s adoptive family. 

Love,

Mrs. B 

I wrote her back: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Aging Child [mailto:AGeneChilde@YouWho.com]
Sent:
Friday, October 24, 2008 10:41 PM

To: ‘Mrs. B’
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright 

Good evening, Ms. B.,

And thank you for you kind words – at least as much on my mother’s behalf, and my daughters’, as my own. It is through you that he came into our home, and your prior years of loving care for him (and the dogs’ attention on him also!) certainly prepped him for the sideshow Mother‘s home can sometimes turn into… as you well know.

I did tell Mother about Tiger this evening – and most interestingly, she very much seemed to know already: she was crying, and asking how Tiger was doing… so I gently told her (choking up badly, I admit), and we talked about him for the next hour. I suspect he may have passed by her room on the way to his next home, and purred something in her soul’s ear, waiting with her a while until I showed up.

At Mother‘s request, I posted on her bulletin-board a large Tiger-picture that Shellie took a while back and Mew had printed up. Mother said it would make his passing easier for her to bear, not harder, with his big fuzzy face right there by her bed.

I agree deeply with your sentiment: There is no question that God gives us these companions to serve as additional conduits to us of His unconditional love. And they teach us as well about responding to such trusting hearts, and expressing love and devotion ourselves. I get annoyed at certain priests, and other religious figures, who insist that our animal-friends will not be there in Heaven – these men likely never had a big slobbery snout slathering their cheek, or a warm fuzzy curled up next to them on the couch, purring away in contentment and closeness. (And they take their scripture far too hogwash-literally and narrowly.) 

Other priests – e.g., the saintly Benedict Groeschel – express their own feeling that, since God’s grace and love accompany us beyond this life, so too will those literal, walking and wagging loving friends He’s given us. The Bible itself states unequivocally that at Jesus’ name (which means “God will save”) “every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth” – and St. Paul doesn’t write “men’s and women’s knees”; last time I looked, every animal had knees, from grasshopper to goose to… Tiger. 

The poet Charles Laurence Dunbar wrote (and fellow poet Maya Angelou embraced) the words, “I know why the caged bird sings”. I think that’s why dogs’ tails wag, and Tiger purrs… it’s not just because there’s a ball or brush in someone’s hand, either. 

Gene 

My daughter Shellie had written me shortly after I spoke with her about her “baby”: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Shellie Childe [mailto:C.Shell@YabbaDoo.com]
Sent:
Friday, October 24, 2008 6:45 PM

To: Aging Child
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright  

Thought you might like this: 

“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.” 

:] 

quotegarden.com has a whole bunch of quotes about cats – mostly hilarious and so very true 

…prompting from me: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Aging Child
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:08 PM
To: ‘Shellie’; ‘Portia’
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright  

Thanks – especially for the laugh. Almost nothing is as funny as a cat (although you come darned close, and then some) being him/herself… just troll YouTube for funny cat videos. 

P.S.: I did include Tiger’s brush with him – I wrapped him in one of Grandmother’s soft couch-blankets (but the pillow was too large) – and added a dingle-ball, his Morris catnip-pillow (freshly doused a couple days ago), and that colorful chair-tied mouse he’d beat mercilessly for no obvious reason. 

Love, 

Dad 

She answered: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Shellie Childe [mailto:C.Shell@YabbaDoo.com]
Sent:
Friday, October 24, 2008 11:10 PM

To: Aging Child
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright  

Awesome. Make sure you save some catnip/food/treats. I feel a need to leave some for him the next time I’m over. 

I’d heard pretty quickly from “Chuckles”, complicit scriptwriter for this blog, and at one point a near-enough neighbor to my mother that she visited with her and Tiger on a regular basis: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Chuckles [mailto:Chuckle_Wilson@Scooby.com]
Sent:
Friday, October 24, 2008 10:59 PM

To: ‘Mrs. Bosco’; Aging Child
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright  

I believe God lets us know when something happens. My mom knew when her sister died and kept asking for her that day. Couldn’t think of anything else. I miss that big ball of fur too. Strange how he touched so many. 

giggles 

And fellow contributor – no stranger to the love and devotion of furry companions himself – Spartacus wrote as well: 

—–Original Message—–
From: “Spark” le Klaus [mailto:SpartaCuss@Yabbadoo.com]
Sent:
Friday, October 24, 2008 5:59 PM

To: Aging Child
Subject: RE:
Burning Bright  

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. 

Pets may “not be people”, but I maintain they are just as much a part of our families as anyone else, and it is entirely right/natural to mourn their passing. 

Tiger was lucky to have such a loving family to call his own. 

…eliciting from me: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Aging Child
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:28 PM
To: ‘Spartacus’
Subject: RE:
Tiger, Tiger…  

Thank you kindly, Sparks. 

And I appreciate your perspective – you can see by the email traffic I’ve been bcc-ing you on that it’s a common and reassuringly inescapable sentiment, too. I’d be the last to put a sweater on a dog or cat (although I did send Tiger off in a soft blanket), yet I agree with Twain’s sentiment that a house just isn’t a home without a cat or three in it… ditto a slobbery dog, too. 

(P.S.: If the subject-line’s origin snuck past you (e.g., Chuckles didn’t recognize it), it’s from the first line of Blake’s “The Tyger“.) 

And this afternoon I took a call from Dr. “Mitchell Tiermann”, DVM, owner of the veterinary office where Tiger was taken care of. (Not too long ago, he was also Chuckles’s boss.) He had the rest of Tigers’s test results. First: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. That is, his heart had deteriorated, and swelled greatly – he was within days, at very best, of sudden death. And second, he’d indeed had a kidney infection, as seen by the blood in his urine. 

My sister Mew, who has had to say goodbye to a number of sweet cats herself over the years, takes this to point out a likely kidney failure for Tiger, had he had no heart trouble. 

There is, of course, some genuine closure for us in knowing the reasons why the poor fluffy fellow’s heart finally gave out. Again, it’s quite likely the stress of leaving home for the clinic, after the discomfort of his failing heart and kidneys, was a bit too much. Yet he did have the comfort of being back home. 

And we had – have – the comfort of his being part of that home.

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