Three cats enjoying the sun at the back door, three different groups of cats each year, as my household changed dramatically over those three consecutive years, memories both bittersweet and happy.
Each Friday I browse past digital photos to see what happened on or about that date beginning in 2004, the first year I began keeping them in dated folders, skipping through each year to see what’s the most interesting, or cats I haven’t featured, or special days or occurrences. I often find photos I didn’t know I’d taken, or that I’d forgotten I’d taken and bring back memories, along with photos I knew were coming up.
Last Saturday’s date was November 23, and on November 24, 2005 I found one of those photos I didn’t know I’d taken. Stanley and Moses at the back door in the sun was typical, but I didn’t at all remember Sophie hanging out with them. Stanley and Moses were very old, Stanley 23 and Moses 19. I remembered that Moses had had some health issues that year that signaled the end of her life in the rather near future, a few mini-strokes, increasing renal failure and some paralysis of her hind legs and hips, possibly the result of the strokes, renal failure or her arthritis finally winning or all three at once; we would lose her at the end of the following February. Stanley was still keeping on, just slowly losing weight, every so often dipping back into renal failure and requiring fluids, sleepy, but otherwise in great shape and lived to January 2007. The two loved to go outside in the sun on the deck, even on a cold November morning just for a few minutes. Sophie was 16 and healthy as a rock, so I was surprised to lose her just a few days past a year from the date of the photo.
On November 25, 2006 the group included Cookie and Lucy watching birds, and Namir getting really drowsy in the sun. Lucy was then eight months old and a very sweet and social kitten, respectful of her elders and listening to their lessons, as Cookie and Namir were apparently shepherding her through daily activities. Lucy adored Namir and would follow him anywhere and even imitate him when he bathed or sat or curled up for a nap, and they played frequently, though Namir always made the rules. Cookie was a big sister to any little kitten, teaching them how to be friendly but keep their distance and learn to play with a toy instead of an elder when the urge struck them, a talent that has done well by many former fosters who’ve moved onto adoptive homes with older kitties. Together Cookie and Namir taught Lucy and many others how to have fun and be a good cat.
At the time of the 2005 photo, Lucy didn’t exist yet. At the time of the 2006 photo, we’d lost Moses, and would lose Sophie just a few days after this photo, Stanley two months after that.
On November 24, 2007, Mimi joined Cookie and Namir at the back door, and her kittens were almost exactly four months old. Mimi was always a perfect kitty, fitting right in with my elder household that summer, never a discouraging hiss or swat, and I think she was not only basking in the sun, but basking in the indoor life as well. Obviously she and her children changed my life significantly, and with her connection to the elders carried them forward in memory even after they were gone.
Between the first photo and the third, I lost five members of my feline household, and gained five more. So many memories, and I’m so glad I found this pattern in three random photos to pull it together.
I’m posting this on Monday even though it’s a Saturday feature because I spent the weekend working in the basement once again and really making progress, but was exhausted by the end of each day. I really wanted to share these three photos but not wait until next weekend because I’d thought about them and those times as I was working, and how this family of cats has surrounded me and shared my life and all I’ve done in this house, and here we all were still at it.
By the end of last week the edema was completely down in my right leg and I found myself walking without my cane and with a totally normal gait, for the first time in two years—it was two years ago in November that I felt in my right hip the first twinges of what would end up with a hip replacement. I don’t have my long stride back yet, or my quick pace, and I still have to be careful the way I bend and twist and how much weight I carry and how I pick it up, but from here it’s all strengthening. I could actually move more and larger things around and/or out of the basement so I have more open space and two work surfaces. Saturday night we had heavy rains so Sunday I cleaned up water as I sorted through papers and boxes of stuff for reorganizing and recycling. More room for printing, and more!
Here’s another view from the scene in 2006 with Lucy, Cookie and Namir. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to use Lucy’s profile or silhouette from the back. I liked the three different positions each one had for their head, but I also love Lucy’s bat-ear silhouette, and she and Cookie, so different, engaged in the same activity.
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It’s a position and an expression I see on her face most days, even cold or inclement ones, and I also saw Cookie and Namir and Kublai in the same position with the same expression at the same back door, waiting to go out on the same deck into very similar sunny mornings. Read more, and purchase.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!