Lisa was so different to her sister Athena- lithe, intense, profound, I knew when I first met her over a year ago that she had used that secretive and mysterious power of the feline realm to call me to care for her while her owners, Pascal and Martine, were overseas. Athena on the other hand, was happy so long as I maintained her food supply! Two very different cats and yet so very close despite the occaisonal spat.
Lisa, like most cats, enjoyed it when I meditated and often sat in my lap snoring quietly. Until that is, Athena approached when she hissed and swiped her paw saying “Fais chier” or “Rack off” -if she spoke English which she didn’t being a cat of a French Village!
Like any good villager she did her regular rounds of the place, saying “Bonjour” to Catherine and Gerard, the neighbours opposite and Marcel and Ghislaine, the next door neighbours whose roof she climbed and being a curious cat, investigated the bedrooms and found them comfortable enough to sleep in from time to time. But she would always return home for dinner and that after dinner treat of bio organic goat’s cheese, her “pêché mignon”
Lisa had a difficult early life that left its scars but with the patience and love of her owners she overcame those wounds. Until her big sister Athena became ill and then everything changed. Lisa began to shrink, and when I returned to care for her this time, though she was ravenous for food, she continued to diminish. A diagnosis of liver cancer which had metasised into her lungs, was established. The vet, who practiced both Chinese and Western medicine, alluded to the mysterious relationship between cats who live together. Lisa seemed the dominant one but in fact it was Athena who was strongest.
During the following week Lisa’s prediliction for goat’s cheese was a tiny delight in each day as her breathing became more and more laboured. The day arrived when she no longer cared for food of any kind.
We buried her near the vines behind the house, recited a porm, cast rose petals on her grave and remembered over several bottles of very good wine, her many amazing traits and dynamic life experiences which had enriched our lives.
Some days later, I learnt of the passing of another pet I had cared for. Zen, like Lisa had suffered greatly in his early life. And like Lisa had blessed the lives of his new, caring owners with the gift of unconditional love and had passed on the same day.
But Zen was never really into goat’s cheese!
|Robert Louis Stevenson. 1850–1894|
|UNDER the wide and starry sky|
|Dig the grave and let me lie:|
|Glad did I live and gladly die,|
|And I laid me down with a will.|
|This be the verse you ‘grave for me:||5|
|Here he lies where he long’d to be;|
|Home is the sailor, home from the sea,|
|And the hunter home from the hill.|