|Rosemary & Niño 23 February 2020|
|Rosemary & Niña 5 December 2020|
William Carlos Williams - 1883-1963
It was an icy day.
We buried the cat,
then took her box
and set fire to it
in the back yard.
Those fleas that escaped
earth and fire
died by the cold.
|Cigarra - disappeared August 1993|
But it seems that dead cats are not to be considered as topics for inspiration.
I am not poet but I believe that dead cats are topics for inspiration and even more for making us look inward (a Borges mirror?) and figure out our mortality.
Since our entry into Canada in 1975, by Rosemary’s reckoning in her list, to be found here we have had 9 cats. One, Cigarra disappeared. The rest, yours truly buried in the garden.
The deaths of our cats affected Rosemary (and me) and I quickly came to understand that the quickest relief at the anguish of having a cat die was to get a brand new one.
We never replaced any cats with a kitten. The only kittens we ever had were our first (who appeared in the cover of VancouverMagazine) and our all black Mosca (fly in Spanish). We liked the idea of going to the SPCA and getting a middle-aged cat that would mean there would have to be mutual adaptation. We enjoyed that process.
It was only recently while re-reading my Plato that I came to realize that every cat represents the idea of all other cats. Thus a live cat brings into our home some of the identity of our dead cat. Cats continue their essence.
My Portland friend Curtis Daily, adds that cats have adjusted to live with human for thousands of years. This would mean that both my Niño and Niña have in their memory of having been petted by an Egyptian pharaoh.
I believe that cats can teach us how to die. English philosopher John Gray in his Feline Philosophy – Cats and the Meaning of Life, I wrote about the book here, confirms my suspicion.
Of all the deaths of our cats there was one that affected me the most. My Plata was very sick. We knew she was dying. We put her next to the kitchen register for warmth. But not long after she died and became stiff in rigor mortis. I told my youngest granddaughter Lauren that I was going to bury her. Lauren with incredible perception said (we were about to move from Kerrisdale to Kits in a few weeks), “You are going to bury her in the new garden, aren’t you?”
When Rosemary died on December 9, 2020, we left her on the bed and went downstairs in wait of the funeral people who would come to take her away. I was never a good newspaper photographer. I could never photograph terrible events with any equanimity. But something made me go upstairs on my own.
On the bed, Rosemary was peaceful in her death and on top of her chest was Niña sleeping in her company. The lovely photograph I took will never be seen here. But it is safely saved in an exterior hard drive called Family.
The image in my head reinforces my concept that cats can teach us about life and about death as well.