The Lady has left us peacefully, today! For being a grand old dame, for which no one really knows how old she really was, perhaps 17, her kidneys were shutting down and she had become weaker and weaker these past weeks, if not since Christmas.
I can remember when she first came into our lives. We had been sitting around the dinner table on a dark evening many years ago, when some person my wife knew was coming by with “Lillan”; a strange name for a cat since it lacked the familiar “s” sound. My sons were young and we all were excited when the lady finally came in through the door holding a wide-eyed little tan tabby-like creature.
This acquaintance explained that she, in her turn, had gotten Lillan from someone else several years before, which explains the uncertainty of Lillan’s age, and now the woman was leaving Jokkmokk (I think she worked for social services) and could neither take Lillan along nor felt it fair to the cat. My boys, and especially my oldest, who had sorrowful disappointments with cats being run over on the main road in front of our house, were immensely pleased and we all were very willing to accept this responsibility. Little did we know at the time that this cat would prove to be an unforgettable delight in our lives.
The two most fears we had with Lillan was being smeared all over the road by a fast moving and heartless vehicle or being carried up the hill into the woods in the jaws of a fox needing a meal.
Photo: Cat`n a box
Now, Lillan was smart! She learned quickly that any sound of a vehicle would mean to wait in the ditch until it couldn’t be heard any more. Then, with this quietness, it was safe to cross over to the other side, where the river bank proved to be a popular and lucrative hunting ground. In the darker times of the year, she added the wit of waiting for approaching headlights to pass until she knew it was safe to proceed.
But the fox theory was puzzling! The first summer we had Lillan, she disappeared for what seemed to be all summer. She left no signs of existing and we all felt that ole riley Mr. Fox had taken her straight away. But, to our surprise and amazement, Lillan would show-up around when school started a new year. Somewhat thin, but definitely full of stories to tell and adventures experienced, had she been able to speak English or Swedish. She simply took a vacation from us this way each year!
Then, she rested contently the rest of the winter and only took the occasional mouse to keep in practice. She was a tremendous mouser and could pile up her beasts in front of the front door for us to (almost) step on, as we opened the door to let her in at night.
She could do tricks! One trick she learned quickly was the open-the-door-and-let-the-dogs-run-away trick. When she wanted in the house, she jumped at the doorknob, which in Sweden are not round but stick out to one side like a lever. Once she had this down pat, she loved to watch our dogs run out the door and, afterwards, strut herself proudly into the house with a small smirk on her face, as we humans would frantically run out calling for the dogs to come back.
Naturally, we had to change the door handle downwards to prohibit this act!
Photo: “Don’t forget Miss Moi, please!”
She laid down where she wanted to and at her leisure. She screamed demandingly for food in the mornings as soon as one woke up. She kept the dogs at bay as if she was a lioness training them and they quickly toed the mark with her. She could spend hours on my wife’s desk to watch the birds at the bird feeder, planning imaginary attacks and kills. She loved grill-style potato chips or, for that matter, any snack food and immediately climbed on a person, with drool running from her mouth, with only the mere sound of a snack package being opened.
As my boys became older and moved out of the house, I felt that I had the roll of guardian for Lillan. I’m more a canine person than a feline person and Lillan wasn’t the cat that craved attention or petting. She pretty much kept to herself and had her routines. But, we somehow found each other these last couple of years and I learned to love her wide, green eyes looking at me or when she would buff-up against my leg near dinner time. And, occasionally, she would fall asleep at night on my stomach or curled against a back or knee.
And, though it was sometimes bothersome, I enjoyed her reaching up and pulling my right arm at the dinner table, begging for food. I was always amazed that Lillan ate anything I would throw into her food bowl nearby, be it carrots, pickles, cucumbers, spicy curry food, macaroni or plain old anything! She ate! Anything!
But, these last couple of months, the lady has been slowing down. She had been losing weight in spite of eating normally, she would lay down almost in her pawprints and I noticed that she was drinking more water than usual. I always thought that her wanting fresh cool water was her reminder of living the wilderness life in the forest during summer.
Unfortunately, this was not true. Her days were closing in on her and, though she survived the road,the foxes and near death at giving birth to several dead fetuses, she couldn’t survive kidney failure. It was her destiny, somehow, and today we allowed her to rest the rest she so badly needed. It’s tough when you love an animal. But, isn’t that what love is?
I know there are people who are very fond of cats and who will swear to how great their cat is, or was. I can appreciate this and understand. But, speaking for my family, Lillan is going to continue to be in our memories and lives. We’ll miss the turned down doorknob, she standing on the window sill wanting in on a summer’s night, the placing of foodstuffs out of her reach, her lying on the kitchen table under the warming kitchen lamp, the long drinks of water she did, straight from a running tap at the kitchen sink …I even think the dogs are going to miss her! The house has lost its night watchman.
Sometime later, we will all probably find her again in another life and then we can tell her how very happy she made us and how honoured we had been with having her! Thank-you so much, Lillan!