About a month ago I got a phone call from my ex-partner John to say that Titch, the cat who came to live with us when we were together, was terminally ill with cancer. We had parted on good terms and I had sometimes gone to feed and visit Titch on the farm where I used to live when John was away. Still I hadn’t seen either of them for well over a year. The news was very distressing.
Titch came to the farm one January when John was working away for a few weeks. I’ve always been good at gentling wildish cats and managed to get a pat in and gave him a dish of scrambled eggs to eat. He re-appeared the next night and by night 3, I’d brought a can of cat food home with me. Little by little, he got to the point of coming into the converted barn where we lived to eat and hang out in the evenings, but usually slept outside in the hayloft of an open barn. He never did cotton on to any other people but John and I.
There’s something about a cat that makes a home a home and it was really good to have him around for the next couple of years that I lived there. By the time I left, it was good to know that he and John were together and very nice to go and visit from time to time.
One of the last times I went to see Titch towards the end, I walked up from the bus stop where I used to alight when I lived there. I climbed over the barbed wire fence next to the horse chestnut tree and paused to examine one of the little worlds in it’s roots; a spill of autumn leaves and moss.
I walked along the river where I used to spend so much time when I lived there, now filled with fallen leaves and tree reflections. A place dearer to my heart than many people and places I have known in my life.
Titch was asleep on a flannel sheet near the fireplace when I arrived. I stretched out on the floor and spent time drowsing at cat level.
He got up and had some food, then settled in a sun patch near the front door.
John and I had arranged for the vet to come out and euthanize him at the end of the week. Titch got up from a nap when I arrived, ate and went outside to bask and doze in the warm autumn sunshine next to John and I, his two human companions. There were pats, purrs and shared memories of his life with us.
After the vet had come and gone, we took Titch to his final resting place in the apple orchard, wrapped in his flannel sheet and laid him on a bed of hay, leaves and feathers, deep in the earth. When I left, I saw and felt his presence everywhere I looked in the farmyard where he had lived. He still lives, woven into the lives and hearts and memories of we who knew and loved him.