Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Death - the final curtain? Celebrating nature's gift in the heart of life...

Part One - Celebration of life well lived
There is a well known story which begins with the words: 'what can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died?...' Eric Segal. This story begins in a like fashion with only the subject matter being somewhat different - 'what can you say about an eighteen year old feline friend who died?'

Some might say that at 18+, roughly 91 human years, death was inevitable and he had had a very good innings. However life (and death) really isn't quite that simple, for whenever the 'final curtain' is drawn, whatever the circumstances, the sense of loss is still the same; devastating, irreconcilable.  Throughout my life death has made its presence felt on a number of occasions. You would think over time the suffering incurred would reduce in its intensity but this has not, up to now, been my experience. Jasper's passing, however, has been somewhat different.

Jasper - 8wks
He entered my life when he was just six weeks old after I made the grave mistake of going to see a friends newly born kittens (I didn't have any intention of increasing my furry family at the time).

He was the largest in the litter and always rushed to greet me when I arrived; a right little character from the outset. It took me a while to notice, as Jasper inevitably commanded my attention, but another little kitten showed equal enthusiasm with each visit; an unobtrusive female whom I subsequently christened 'Jess'. 

Two furry beings had found their way into my heart and my life. How this would pan out I'd no idea as I shared my home with one other furry being; Buster, a four year old collie/lab cross, who I hadn't even consulted about the latest additions!

Jess - 8wks
The kittens were so tiny their combined size amounted to less than Buster's head. I just had to trust all would be well, so I set the kittens on the kitchen floor, ignored them, and made a fuss of the dog. After a while he went for a sniff only to be spat at by Jess. In true dog fashion he ran straight to his bed, gave me a questioning look, and clearly wondered what on earth he'd done to deserve such a welcome.

After that they became firm friends with Jasper soon to take on the role as head of the house, including the provision of our 'daily bread'. There followed 12 happy years (until Buster died) where we all rattled along quite nicely, with all three of my furry friends offering quite unique and complementary gifts.

Buster - 14yrs

Buster (that's another story) was my trusted friend, companion and fellow traveller who accompanied me virtually every place I went. He needed plenty of exercise so weekends were spent climbing mountains in the English Lake District - his first and last being Blencathra (my favorite) just outside Keswick. Now his ashes dance with the elements and his soul runs free amongst the fells.

Jasper and Jess were as different as chalk and cheese. Where he was confident, expressive and very true to his feline nature; she was quiet, gentle and fond of her own company. In all her 18 years I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of creatures she has sent to their maker; with Jasper it was a five times daily occurrence!

Heart to heart hugs

Should he have had a tombstone, Jasper's epitaph would include these few simple words, 'He lived life to the full'. Everything he did, he undertook with his whole being; he could purr for England, held meaningful conversations, was totally fearless, fought and caught, played me off to a tee and best of all he gave the most loving heart to heart hugs. He would deliberately go outside when it was chucking it down with rain just so he could be towel dried in my arms when he returned; the look on his face was pure bliss and his inner engine vibrated to such depth, its a wonder the whole world didn't still to listen - maybe it did?

Jonty - 10wks
Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth!
18 months after Buster died, a beam of radiant joy entered our lives in the form of a cavalier king charles spaniel - Jonty Sunbeam Spirit - Walker ('Spirit-Walker' was the name of the kennels). He is now four years old and I could already fill a book with his antics! However, I will stick to Jasper, and suffice it to say they became bosom buddies; a right double act, I can tell you. They were even colour co-ordinated - a purrfect match!

Bosom Buddies

Jonty made it his mission to chase both cats who soon developed their own way of dealing with the mini tornado that had invaded their otherwise tranquil lives; Jess would retreat immediately to the top of the kitchen units and join in from a strategically safe position, Jasper would quite simply whack him into place with a very well placed paw - not that it ever deterred Jonty, to him it was all part of the fun. I think Jasper saw it like that too, he was completely non-phased by all of it.

Feeding time was always interesting as Jonty considered anything placed on the floor to be his, quite rightly so! thus cat food was placed on the kitchen worktop well out of reach. Or so I thought? Many a time I would enter the kitchen in the morning to find a spotlessly clean cat bowl lying on the floor. This puzzled me for a while, until I spotted Jasper generously sharing his dinner by knocking the bowl into the reach of a very grateful little dog! Sharing of food as you can see from the video below, was well reciprocated, not only did Jonty allow Jasper to steal his food, he wagged his tail in appreciation!

Feeding time
And so we come to the parting of the ways and the reason for writing this blog. Why has the demise of this very special friend been so different that it has inspired me to share his story a mere three days after his passing?

to be continued...
Copyright ©Barbara Rose 2011


  1. Just seen the video of your cat giving you a hug- sooo lovely!!!! I've never seen anything like it!

    As a fellow cat lover (or cat slave haha) i send you my deepest sympathies for the loss of your cat.

  2. thanks Jo... he really was/is quite an amazing being... and yes, i do miss him - how could i not?.... but all is well...more to come in part 2