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Life Is Short…

October 18th, 2010 Jorma Leave a comment Go to comments

‘Life is short… shorter for some than others…’ Gus McCall from Lonesome Dove.

I was going to write about the honor I received (along with others of honor) from the Ohioana Library. That will have to wait another day or so.

People who know me know that I am not necessarily a ‘cat person.’ That said, we have four cats plus one and in my own acerbic way, I love them all. Some years ago a feral black cat, very small, realized that the buffet was at our place and made Hillside Farm her home. You couldn’t come near this cat, she was so wild. A couple of years ago when my son Zach was visiting for his Winter Break, he gentled her and she became a member of our feline family. The ‘plus one’ I mentioned above is a large grey male cat that lives under our deck and shares the buffet with the official members of the family. He shared more than that this year and the gentled wild cat that Izze named ‘House’ became pregnant. This unauthorized pregnancy resulted in a small litter of two. House was a less than stellar Mom and she did her best to kill her kittens. We found them buried in the basement and wound up taking out part of a cinderblock wall to save them. They were covered in dirt… in their eyes, nose… everywhere. I took them to my sister-in-law Ginger’s place… she had a cat that just had kittens and we hoped she would adopt them. I was driving to Ginger’s and talking to my son Zach on the phone when I heard one of the kittens crying loudly. ‘Son,’ I said. ‘She wants to live,’ and indeed she did. Ginger’s cat treated her as her own and when she was obviously flourishing, we brought her home.

Izze had named her ‘Flower’ when she was born. When Flower came home, Izze morphed her name into ‘Flauber.’ A play on words? A French poet? Who knows? Anyway, Flauber came home with Snowball, one of her adopted sisters and joined Zami and Mimi The Cat (My Mother’s old cat) here on the farm.

I am not into indoor cats so Flauber and Snowball were truly cats of freedom, ranging at will through the woods that surround our house. When Vanessa and Izze and I went to Columbus Friday the fifteenth for the Ohioana Awards we left plenty of food and water for the cats as well as Nana the Dog. We knew we would be back Saturday afternoon so they would not go hungry or thirsty. When we got home, all the animals greeted us except for Flauber. We thought she might be in the woods or perhaps visiting a neighboring farm which she occasionally did. She did not come home yesterday and today when Vanessa was taking Izze to school, she found her dead on the road.

Now dead animals on the road here in the country is nothing new… unfortunately I myself have hit deer, turkeys, and yes, once a cat. It just happens. I was working in the barn when Vanessa sadly came back to tell he she had found Flauber. I went down with my little tractor and a wagon and gently picked her up and brought her home. I then took a post hole digger into the woods and dug her grave.

She had been with us for less than a year and yet her passing was like losing a longtime friend. Our pets are so beloved… so much a part of us. They surround our lives with love and help us measure the time that oft passes more quickly for them than it does for us. They do not seem to care about this disparity. They truly live in the moment.

I enclose one of my favorite poems by the poet Derek Walcott. It is about a dog and yet in my mind’s eye I substitute Flauber The Cat.

ODDJOB, A BULL TERRIER
Derek Walcott

You prepare for one sorrow,
but another comes.
It is not like the weather,
you cannot brace yourself,
the unreadiness is all.
Your companion, the woman,
the friend next to you,
the child at your side,
and the dog,
we tremble for them,
we look seaward and muse
it will rain.
We shall get ready for rain;
you do not connect
the sunlight altering
the darkening oleanders
in the sea-garden,
the gold going out of the palms.
You do not connect this,
the fleck of the drizzle
on your flesh,
with the dog’s whimper,
the thunder doesn’t frighten,
the readiness is all;
what follows at your feet
is trying to tell you
the silence is all:

it is deeper than the readiness,
it is sea-deep,
earth-deep,
love-deep.

The silence
is stronger than thunder,
we are stricken dumb and deep
as the animals who never utter love
as we do, except
it becomes unutterable
and must be said,
in a whimper,
in tears,
in the drizzle that comes to our eyes
not uttering the loved thing’s name,
the silence of the dead,
the silence of the deepest buried love is
the one silence,
and whether we bear it for beast,
for child, for woman, or friend,
it is the one love, it is the same,
and it is blest
deepest by loss
it is blest, it is blest.

Flauber The Cat brought much joy into our lives here at Hillside Farm. Why she should have been spared ignominious death at the hands of her mother in our basement to die on our little road once again illustrates there is no logic to life and death. She loved to swim, go figure. She would occasionally jump in the pool and paddle around before getting out. I buried her in one of the beach towels we would dry her with.

rest well

She rests behind our garden. The tree that shades her in the woods is flame today. Soon the leaves will be gone, but today they sing brightly just for her. Mimi The Cat seems to know she is gone and walks gently by her place in the woods here at Hillside. She raises her head as if listening for something… silent as night, she walks on.

flame tree

Her days in the woods and on our porch were filled joy and freedom. What more can any of us want. With all this in mind, I shall try to make the most of today and perhaps tomorrow as well.

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  1. Howard Wade
    October 18th, 2010 at 13:29 | #1

    The poem and your story of Flauber are very moving. I am a “cat person” I suppose though I love all animals. It is amazing to me that we can have such close relationships with other species. It really is a gift. Love is love I suppose regardless of species. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Dave Millard
    October 18th, 2010 at 13:48 | #2

    Anyone who says animals do not have souls has never shared a life with a pet, be it a dog or a cat, or a Guinea Pig my niece had once. They are family, and I’ve had enough pets who passed away to know you grieve for not a pet, but a family member. How’s Miss Kitty doing?

  3. Rockin Ricky Brindell – Gramps
    October 18th, 2010 at 16:21 | #3

    That’s quite uplifting Jorma. I have two cats and a dog (Springer Spaniel) Jake and he is without a doubt the biggest mush of a lover you have ever seen. As you say, they truly live in the moment and a lot can be learned from our pets. From Jake I have learned to be more patient as he spends most of his day awaiting the return of his Mommy and Daddy (Lucy and me of course).

    From that I have learned that to be a better finger style guitar player, as I learned patience and that with all the practice will come the result I desire. And it is coming.

    I also have to say that making the decision to put my last dog down 4 years ago was without a doubt the most difficult decision I have had to face. Furthermore to sit there and “participate” while Princess’ life drained away was heart-breaking while at the same time cathartic. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that for the world, and I am sure Princess wanetd it that way too.

    Your maudlin friend

    Gramps

  4. Paul Greenberg
    October 18th, 2010 at 18:21 | #4

    Hey Jorma, just stumbled onto your blog and thought I’d say hello and thanks for over 4 decades of acoustic (and electric) enjoyment. I’ve seen you w/ the Airplane and Hot Tuna ~5 times going back to Asbury Park and the Phila. Acad. of Music in the 60’s. As an anesthesiologist in Binghamton, N.Y.(saw you at SUNY), I was the designated DJ in the OR and your music was frequently listened to amidst the clanging of instruments. I live in Estes Park, Co. now and am sorry to’ve missed you in Englewood. I was back East(sea-level)running a marathon to qualify for Boston this year…your help on my I-Pod was appreciated;-)

  5. Joanne
    October 19th, 2010 at 13:27 | #5

    Jorma you are a magnificent writer as well as a heartful man..this was very moving.We all have been through this ourselves,so we can sure relate.Thanks for this story and beautful poem.

  6. bruce bennett
    October 20th, 2010 at 06:34 | #6

    hey Jorma,sorry about the family cat….my best friend and bass player is going through liver cancer and was too sick to care of his dogs and i had to put one of ‘em to sleep recently…and now one of my dogs is so old that he hasn’t got long either….my pets are all family….

  7. Linda Hengst
    October 20th, 2010 at 10:22 | #7

    Jorma, Vanessa, and Izzie,

    I am so sorry to learn of your lose and what a sad way to end a great weekend. As the two legged family members each hold a special place in our lives and hearts, so do our four legged, furry members. May Flauber rest in peace knowing that she was loved and cherished.

  8. Bruce Gladstone
    October 22nd, 2010 at 13:32 | #8

    Tears and soul. My cat is my only family. My deepest condolences.

  9. Terry Gruber
    October 24th, 2010 at 19:24 | #9

    Jorma—

    It is always sad to see any animal’s life end, and especially when they are part of the family. My condolences to you all.

  10. Emil Ferzola
    October 25th, 2010 at 21:19 | #10

    All my critters have been rescued and there is something special and tender of the love received from a new found friend. The passing of an old friend means that another is awaiting your care. And also thanks for the quote from Gus, read that darn book three times.

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