Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sylvia Super Kitty - A Love Letter

I have to collect my thoughts and just start writing. After 15 and a half years we lost our little kitty Sylvia. I can not and will not write about her in the past tense but let me say it's been hard to concentrate on anything else since she left her body. She was a blast - awesome. Sylvia first came to me when I called her as a two month old street kitty. She was on the porch of a woman who cared for cats and strays. She couldn't take Sylvia in because she already had four strays living with her in a remarkably clean town home. Sylvia was born in a litter of three and I needed some help in the old Victorian I was living in with the crickets and mice. So we went to see the cat lady.

I went for one kitty but I came home with two. I traveled a lot back then and didn't want a sad lonely kitty in the house. I immediately chose her all black sister Bernadette because the cat lady had already trained her to use a kitty pan. What a sweetheart Bernadette is, but that's another story for another day. The other two sisters were close to being trained but not all the way there yet. The kitty rescue woman had a litter box and food set up for the strays outside on her deck. Sylvia was born under a car in front of that deck. So now having chosen Bernadette (named after the Four Tops song) which of the remaining two would come home with us? I sat on the porch on the steps leading to the sidewalk and on the other side three kitties one all black the other two black and white wrestled with each other. I just patted the deck. Who wants to go home with me (I didn't call their names) and almost immediately over trotted "half pint." The cat rescue lady's daughters named her that since she had half a white mustache under her nose. Freakin' cute is an understatement - the girls awed in depression as Sylvia came trotting over. They wanted to keep her. Sylvia and I never looked back.

Sylvia's Mom and Dad were there that day too - street cats they were sitting on the rail of the first floor deck and on the sidewalk. Sylvia looked just like her dad color wise (except she was the only one with half a mustache). She was built like her mom an all lean black kitty built for speed and a no nonsense attitude. The kitty rescue lady mentioned how odd it was that they were all there together that day. After nursing the mom's are usually done with the kittens. Anyway they didn't run off when we got there. Everyone was just watching the little kitties play with each other. Years latter I regreted not taking all three from that litter but the cat rescue woman assured me that the third sister was going to a good home. And yet again the cat pan was enough of a mess with two kitties. So that's how it started. Sylvia and Bernadette have been with me for six moves and fifteen and a half years. From beach town to suburbs, to city and then back to the beach. We've come full circle. Not a day goes by that we don't tell each other how much we love each other. I can't wipe this smile off of my face as I think about how adorable they are sleeping on our heads, walking on our pillows, jumping up to see us, jumping up to greet us, standing on two legs looking out windows, launching themselves from railings, tearing up steps, spiral staircases, purring like sonic booms on our chests and following us from room to room, up and down steps, even if I just had to go back into a room if I forgot something. I had to tell Sylvia to stay downstairs I'm coming right back down. It was never pathetic like a latchy boyfriend or girlfriend. Nope it was always tail up what's happening next oh by the way I love you!

Sylvia loved shrimp, scarfed it down, she used to lick fig newton corners down, she sat by my side, she sat on my lap, she sat on my heart and I could feel hers beat through my chest also. She was a cereal eater with her dad. She would get on the other side of the bowl and lick the milk out. She waited patiently and I would put the bowl down and she would tuck her head in and lap up the milk. The coffee table was our meeting point for this routine and many others as she would bound onto the sofa to sit between us. When I moved the wicker chair over to the fireplace to smoke a cigar - the second I got up she was in it - after all I've always had that chair. Who could get mad? It just cracked me up. She fetched. That cat thought she was a dog. Tootsie pops. I would pitch them and she would tear off after them, bat them around into another room for a while and then grab the stick in her mouth and trot back to me head up, ready to do it again, and drop the tootsie pop at me feet. I would count to three and would pitch it end over end to both our constant delight.

Transposing parts of my hand written manuscript to typewritten page created a lot of crumbled up legal pad paper. The very first time they heard the crumple they both ran to my side to see what was up. So I tossed it and we have been playing that game ever since. What have I learned since writing a book? Crumpled up manuscripts make great pet toys. What else do you need to know? Each page is light and airy and bounces - if you don't crumple it up too much and they make a great sound when batted around on the floor and between your paws. Bernadette and I were playing that game just last night tearing down the steps and across the carpet turning on a dime!

Sylvia was the loudest purer I mean supersonic! She sounded like an outboard engine fully opened up. She cranked it up immediately. She showed us every minute of every day how much she loved us. She never begged for food except when the shrimp came in through the front door. Her ears would flatten out and her little face would peer over the coffee table. It was too much. Of course we fed her liberally on shrimp and love. Every night for fifteen years they slept with me one under each arm until I dozed off. Every day after work they greeted us.

We gave Sylvia a fitting Viking funeral send off. We carried her expired body around the house lifted high to all the places she loved by the windows she wanted to look out of and sit in to her favorite chair in each room. She went fast her spirit was strong, so very strong and she batted her ball around for me twice before later dying. We kissed her and loved her and talked to her endlessly and she talked back. Sylvia was a real talking kitty. She would yowl at us when we got home and had different sounds for wanting to go out and wanting us to sit down. She loved a brick or concrete patio. She used to lay upside down with her paws up and look at us from in front of the fireplace when we sat on the sofa. She helped me put on my sneakers and pick out cd's. That cat was in our face telling us how much she loved us every day, every moment, it was awesome.

Sylvia was immensely cute, and kooky, and loving. Even in her final hours peering upside down from underneath the bed taking her final looks at us. Her two paws on the bed frame with her half a body out looking at us upside down, and her little half a mustache and white whiskers. She chased leaves like she was out on the Serengeti planes and never killed a song bird all though she chattered at them quite a bit. She earned the native American nick name "chases with leaves."

Sylvia picked her final resting place. She would always climb under the bench on the deck and look over the side to the oleander bush. She's buried there now. Dog people who say they don't like cats because they are aloof have no idea. Sylvia was a champ, awesome, a huge spirit always with us and with us always. It was her body that gave out due to age and not her spirit. She was looking out a window when she died. And her spirit is stronger than ever. We are getting signs every day and every moment. I can still hear her lapping up water like some Labrador.

The ring around the moon last saturday night (the 30th) when she died was enormous. I have a friend in Florida who saw the same ring. It was so wide if you looked too narrowly, focused to sharply on just the moon you missed it. You had to step back. My beautiful wife said it was heaven opening up to take her in and I thought it had to be that enormous for all the love that Sylvia had. The moon the next night when I was up around 4/5am shown so bright through the window Sylvia was looking out when she died that it was other worldly. It looked like a hollywood lighting trick. It looked like someone was shinning a spot light through the window but much more softer and natural with softly defined edges and three dimensional shape. That huge ray of reflected light passed right on through the window and onto the floor. It was completely well defined and you couldn't see through it. It wasn't just a light on the carpet but a shaft of moon light in a lights out home at 4/5 in the morning. It was biblical and told me all I needed to know.

These little creatures present to us as a human race a chance to experience unconditional love. Bar none this is exactly the way the lord feels about all of us - even if we are puking up hairballs of war and hostility towards each other. How different are we when we act on our animal instincts and kill each other? Are we that different than the inadvertent scratching of upholstery to a god that creates universes? That's what we must be like to god. At our worst little animals run amok at our best kitties purring on his chest feeling each others heart. It's time we took the blinders off and learned from our little friends. Learn about unconditional love, learn about showing it back to each other, learn about playing and having fun, learn about love and live love every minute of everyday, and show love to each other every chance we get. This world can be our dream. In fact it is everything we imagine it to be. We need to dream bigger and have better dreams. Dreams were we love each other in the purest sense unhindered by looks, color or species. Dreams are real, they exist, we have them. The trick is in believing enough to pull them into our mundane reality. It is our doubt and cynicism that prevents the richness of awakening to become fulfilled in our daily lives. It's time to live the dream and be the dreamer of our dreams. The actors in our play. There is nothing fanciful or unrealistic about it. We are chickens and scared of the fulfillment it would bring and the meaning it would reveal. We are in control of our destiny, we are responsible for our lives and our surroundings and each other, and our better natures win out. This is the lesson Sylvia has taught me and it is why I share her life and stories with you. A little kitty cat strong enough to change the world? You bet if we let it happen if we want it to happen. Sylvia showed me that.

I'll never forget taking the trash out to the dumpster back in the mid nineties and seeing her on the third story roof of my brothers town house. She was just a tiny speck and she meowed at me as I walked towards the dumpster. I turned around at the dumpster shed in the parking lot with the river behind me and the trees all around and said, "Sylvia is that you what are you doing up there," and she gave me the greatest, longest meow (I can almost hear it now) and I just laughed. Of course I had to climb up there and get her. Boy was she surprised to see my head pop up from behind the roof dormer. I got another meow and a big puffy tail greeting but soon we were back down in the living room talking to each other as she just circled and meowed back to me. Thank you for rescuing me Paul - your welcome Sylvia! I love you too!

For pictures of "super kitty" visit my myspace site theres a link on this blogs home page or click on the link in the title of this posting. She will never be a faded memory and I'll see her as soon as I cross over, or in my dreams or out of the corner of my eye (already happening a lot). Meantime she's purring up a storm in the garden of eden, chasing leaves and rolling around on god's patio, snoozing in his easy chair and playing with her sisters, my sister and my wifes grand ma. It's the way it is. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Learn from her, learn from your own four legged friends. We are the dream we dream for ourselves and each other. Know it live it, love it all.

Thanks Sylvia - see you soon for a nose scratch!



1 comment:

eastcoastlife said...

Aawww, this is beautiful.