Donna over at gardenwalkgardentalk has selected the word ephemeral for all of us to ponder as to how it relates to our gardens and lives:
Ephemeral: having a very short lifetime or existence; not lasting.
Donna captured the word perfectly, her images are amazing, defining the essence of the word in pictures alone.
I'm going to attempt to write my post on ephemeral too, but it will (as usual) take me a lot more words to do it. And please forgive another sappy post from me, but lately the Sappies have overtaken me, I fear. It's been a rough fall.
This post is dedicated to our late, great, cat, Screech.
Screech was a part of our family for so long, ever since a cold, early spring day in 1994 when a stray female wandered into our yard and within a week gave birth to two of the cutest kittens I had ever seen. I know, all kittens are downright adorable, but these were extra-special.
One was a dark gray tiger-stripe kitten and the other was a pitch black one with just a touch of white on his chest and on his underbelly. Sadly, shortly after the kittens were born, we came home from a Sunday drive and found their mother had been hit by a car crossing the road in front of our house. The two little kittens were now orphans and I was their newly appointed foster mother. I wasn't so sure they'd survive since they were so young, but they soon caught on to licking the bread I'd soaked in warm milk and meat juice several times a day and after a few weeks, they were eating from a bowl on their own.
Our boys were little fellows then, too, Joel was 8 and David was 4. Joel named the gray tiger-stripe kitten Charcoal, and four-year-old David decided the black one should be called, of all things, Screech. The name fit perfectly due to his raspy voice when meowing for attention, and believe me, he loved attention!
All was well with our two little furballs; they would run around and play and tussle in that goofy way kittens have. We could not have a cat in the house, though, due to David being highly allergic to them. Within a minute of exposure to their soft fur, Dave would be extremely miserable, though he loved them so. We fixed up a little box in the garage for the kittens to sleep in, lined with an electric pet bed.
The two kittens were inseparable and they were also the tamest, most calm felines I had ever known. Charcoal used to climb into my five gallon weed pails as I weeded in the garden and every time I'd put a weed in the pail, he'd pop up like a jack in the box to attack. I'd simply tote him around in the pail as I moved around the garden. Screech was always content to be just a few inches away, batting at my hands and trowel as I worked. Such a pair they were.
What we didn't know was we had two stowaways onboard the trailer, Charcoal and Screech.
When we arrived at the river to begin canoeing, our friend told us what had happened.
This was in the days before cellphones--oh, how handy a cellphone would have been back then.
The boys and I were devastated. I felt so bad, I sat down and cried and both of the boys did, too. We wanted to go home right away, but we had driven a rather long distance and our friends were along for the canoeing trip, so we made the best of it and went anyway. That was the longest canoe trip of my life.
On our way home from canoeing we took the same route and found poor Charcoal lying on the center line of the highway. We brought his body home and held a tear-filled funeral that night. Before laying Charcoal to rest, we looked for Screech as we drove but there was no sign of him anywhere. We were all so sad, and I was blaming myself. Why hadn't I thought to check the trailer before we left? The cats had climbed under the upside down canoes and had been hidden from our view, but I should have checked. Hindsight is always 20/20.
We were still crying over Charcoal's burial but we needed to find Screech. The boys and I walked down our road looking for him, calling his name over and over. We were hoping against hope that he might still be alive and were doubly worried he was injured and suffering. We called and called for him and just as we were about to give up, Joel heard a faint, hoarse meow coming from the woods near my mother's house.
There was Screech, huddled at the base of a big tree, too terrified to come up onto the road. I went to him and he nearly leaped into my arms. Though he was scared, he was miraculously unhurt and started purring immediately, pushing his little face up into my hand to pet him again and again. He lapped up all the milk and attention we all gave him when we arrived home. It was truly a miracle he had survived the fall from a trailer going 30 mph.
Screech was lonely, but he was fine. I took him to the vet and had him checked over and then eventually we had him neutered. The biggest danger for outside cats is being run over by a car, but never again did Screech trust moving vehicles. He would look both ways carefully before crossing our quiet side road and if a car was even in the next mile, he would wait for it to pass. He often accompanied me on my walks, it was comical to see my two Shih Tzu's, Teddy and Pudding, on their leashes trotting along with Screech right in the middle. When he heard a car coming, he would be down in the ditch immediately, long before I even noticed it approaching. Moving vehicles would never harm him again.
Whither thou goest.......Screech would go.
|Screech bringing up the rear, on his way to breakfast.|
Always patient, always loving.
We'd had Screech here with us for so long, and I know we took him for granted. But it was becoming apparent already last year, when he turned 16 that he was getting old. He still was as loving as always, but time was taking a toll on him.
He wasn't quite as frisky as he'd always been, and laid down a lot more, basking in the sun. His need to give love never left him though. In the picture above he is basking in Dave's attention back in September.
There were days I saw him move much more slowly than he used to, especially in the colder mornings earlier this fall.
|The last close-up photo of our dear Screech.|
When we had those frost scares earlier in September and I was out covering everything with my fabric stash to save it, Screech was following me around like usual. I do remember petting him that morning and he 'talked' to me with that raspy meow of his, shoving his head into my hand for the extra-hard face rubs he had always loved. He wasn't particularly interested in his breakfast that morning, but I didn't think too much of it. He was an outdoor cat, after all, and was a good hunter, busy keeping our pest population down.
Little did I know this would be the last time I'd ever see him.
When I was looking for pictures of him, this was the last one I found.
The next morning when I went out to let the girls out of the coop, no Screech came to greet me. I called for him, but heard no raspy voice calling back. I searched high and low for him, but came up empty. He was not to be found. When Carl got home from work, we looked around, but still, nothing. Carl comforted me by saying maybe Screech was out hunting, but we both knew the truth. He was probably gone forever, but we worried, had he been attacked, or stumbled into a trap in the woods, or was he hurt, unable to come home?
I was in love with this cat, and it was so hard not knowing what had happened.
Finally, a week later, I was in the garage and found him. He was lying in a concealed cranny between some pieces of lumber, just like he had laid down for a nap. At first I thought he was just asleep; he looked so peaceful. Oh, the tears flowed then....Joel was home and we laid our dear kitty to rest right next to his brother, Charcoal.
For seventeen years we had the pleasure of being owned by our sweet Screech. They say you own a dog, but a cat owns you....and that's true.
Screech had a face and a loving nature that could melt a heart of stone.
having a very short lifetime or existence; not lasting.
His lifetime wasn't long enough, but Screech's memory will live on forever in our hearts.
Rest In Peace