Something about the light today reminds me of being out on my deck with Stanley, so I’ve posted one of my favorite photos of him.
This photo doesn’t show you much about Stanley, but for me it is a reminder of how my cats have inspired me at every moment since I’ve lived with them, training me to keep my eyes open and always be ready for that unique image, keeping my creative spirit alive and my creative intellect in top condition, in a way living two lives at once, to live the moment, and to record the moment.
I often called Stanley “Stripe” because he was a tabby, and in this photo the confluence of all those stripes was just breathtaking. Straight geometric stripes in the shadows from my deck rail coming in at an obtuse and unsettled angle, the deck boards themselves and the gaps between at a normal and comforting angle, and striped Stanley breaking all the straight lines as he curled in a perfect circle; I could never have posed this or composed this, but what a moment to remember. And if Stanley had not been there I probably would have noticed the shadows but not taken the photo, so I have him to thank for this moment.
Sunshine and fresh air is a perfect tonic for an old cat. This was from Stanley’s last summer with me, when he was “somewhere in his twenties” and we were keeping the chronic renal failure at bay with doses of subcutaneous fluids, enticing foods, and a morning visit to the back yard and a nap on the deck every day the weather permitted. Stanley forgot all about feeling a little queasy and tired as he pranced around the back yard from bush to tree to post, smelling the messages—downloading his “pee-mail” and uploading his reply, as I always called it. Back up on the deck, a little bath and quick nap in the sun, then inside to eat ravenously as if nothing was the matter.
I have decades of memories of Stanley; he came to me several years into adulthood and lived with me for 21 years, suffering from chronic urinary issues for which he had obviously been violently punished. A sweet, silly, friendly kitty underneath it all, it took years to wear down the aftereffects of Stanley’s early abuse. But he appears in many, many images, including my painting, “After Dinner Nap”, which inspired many commissioned portraits, but before that it inspired me to find a way to share my feline inspirations with the world. Thank you, Stanley.