PROF. GORDON GREB
FAREWELL TO TIGRE
Tigre at rest at last. waiting for the family reunion
For sure, this kitty will
get along in Heaven
By PROF. GORDON GREB
My daughters lovely little cat is dead. It happened two nights ago and everyone in the family is saddened by what happened. Only someone who has had a pet will understand the true meaning of this natural event to the children-- twin nine-year old girls and a six-year old boywhen Mommy found Tigre, their lovable family cat, dead on the bathroom floor.
There was no pulse nor breathing. The body was cold and stiff. There was no doubt about it, this dear member of our family had passed away and no longer would be jumping on somebodys lap to be petted, begging to be fed in the kitchen when hungry, and chasing the family dog away whenever that dumb intruder got in her way. Life had ended for this poor little creature and we all knew why. Tigre had become a very old lady--92 years old by cat age, translated into human terms.
We learned how old she was by researching it on the Internet. Googling the words ages of cats turned up a chart that estimated that she was 88 years because she had lived with us for l8 years. Being one year old when adopted, we needed to add a few more years to determine her comparable age.
Months earlier she had suffered some kind of minor heart attack and could hardly move around. Gradually she showed a remarkable recovery until made nearly immobile by another attack. She lost weight and got thinner and thinner. Still she found comfort and enjoyment lying on a mat by the wood-burning stove. Or being taken outside to rest on the grass under the warm sunshine.
She had been a stray kitten adopted by my daughter who found her wandering around Half Moon Bay, Calif., back in l990. The cat was there before there really was a family, which came later with the addition of Daddy, then twin girls Hannah and Carmen and finally their small boy, Nolan.
Although she began ailing many months ago and was slowly reduced to skin and bones by declining health, this natural event has been a terrible shock and brought us to our knees and left some of us crying for a longer period than anyone anticipated.
The reason our old cats demise has brought us such sorrow is that we remember her only too well as a kitten. Or a teen-ager. Or a young adult. Or as a mature young feline lady. When my daughter got a job at Stanford University, she moved into a Palo Alto house shaded by trees, where the year around temperature was agreeably mild. Consequently she kept a front window partially open to enjoy the fresh air, enabling the cat to bound in and out at her leisure. Sometimes visitors would be startled by Tigre suddenly landing on the floor from the window and ambling off to the kitchen as pretty as you please.
Tigre also was one of the smartest, wisest, most educated cats we ever knew. It seemed that she understood everything we were saying. Nobody ever counted the words in her English vocabulary but that cat knew at least a dozen. By the time my daughter packed up the car for a move to Chico for a better university position, the cat had learned everything about traveling and didnt like it.
Reason: on each trip she would be caught, locked up in a large box, and confined there till the trip was finished. It could last for three or four hours.
Consequently nobody could talk about travel plans or give any sign of preparing for a tripsuch as removing suitcases from closetsbecause the cat would wise up and hide. Believe me, its no fun trying to haul a cat out from under a bed.
Tigre loved the family home and everybody in it. When the twins were mere infants, they were fascinated with the cat crawling about on the floor with them and the kitty seemed to think it all right even if they pulled her tail. As the children grew up, they lifted their grey furry friend up in the air, carried her about, and held her as tightly as a Teddy Bear when playing their games. The cat loved their attention and they loved her. So did Mommy and Daddy. And every neighbor, friend or relative who came to visit.
When it comes to the importance of a pet animal, I always remember what concerned my daughter when she was about 10. She was studying for confirmation in the Catholic religion, and thinking seriously about all she was being taught. But one day the teacher said something that upset her so much she came home crying. She was so unhappy she didnt want to go to church any longer.
My Sunday School teacher said animals dont have souls and wont go to Heaven, she said plaintively If my cat cant go to Heaven with me then I dont want to go either.
We sympathized with her feelings and explained as best we could that Jesus Christ loved animals and children. This meant, we told her, that God would take both children and animals to Heaven at the proper time. Living with Tigre for l8 years makes that interpretation truer than ever. Tigre was just too good as a member of our family to not be able to join us when that Great Day arrives for us all.
©2008 by Gordon Greb. The caricature of the author is by the author. The cartoon illustration is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA. This column first posted Oct. 20, 2008.
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