My father's beloved cat Kanga died three weeks ago from heart failure. He's buried in the backyard, up on the hill, where my father can see the grave as he drinks his coffee every morning. I drove down to see my father this weekend to help say farewell, and we joked that you can see the letters "K-A-N-G-A" from outer space. My father carved them into the log that serves as the grave marker, and that's where we perched ourselves on Saturday afternoon to drink a glass of ale and recall with fondness the life of a white Persian.
As we reminisced, the neighbor's two cats--both of whom were originally strays--strolled past us, just out of reach, to pay their respects. Butterflies floated past in the light warm breeze while chickadees and cardinals hopped from branch to branch in the trees that populate the back hill. Just in front of Kanga's resting spot, we lit sticks of Japanese incense and placed a small cluster of French lavender--still fragrant from a trip to Paris my father and I took together several years ago. We wept and laughed together, I got a little tipsy, and my father commented on the human tenderness that sends us up to a hill, in the sun, to talk to a dead cat.
And then came Harry, an orange tabby (above) whom my father chose this weekend at the local Humane Society to be the new companion for him and for Roo, the resident Himalayan and Kanga's former mate. Harry is about a year old and has a long sleek body with a tail that curls at the end when he arches it over his back and neck. He loves my father's house, with its many piles of assorted materials, its big windows, and the toys he's rescued from underneath furniture and from forgotten corners. And, when I got home last night, my father called to report that Harry loves something else too....roast chicken!