We bought our first kitten right after we returned to Hawaii to enter graduate school at the end of August in 1969. She was a wonderful kitten we found at a pet store in Ala Moana Center. We were living temporarily with my parents in Kahala, so our kitten moved in with us. She later moved with us into a high-rise apartment building in Kaimuki. Before she was a year old, we adopted kitten #2, a stray found wandering and crying in a construction area near our building during a heavy rain. The two bonded and were very close as long as they lived.
Later, when the owner of our apartment building died and new owners decided to turn the rental units into condominiums, we moved to a townhouse in a development just down the hill towards the ocean, across from Wilson School. We lived there for another ten years before buying our house in Kaaawa and relocating. Kitten #2 died in about 1985. First cat survived and made the move with us. A few months after that move, early in the summer of 1988, she died.
That was 28 years ago.
On Sunday, we decided it was time to welcome our first cat, and the many others that followed, to our new home.
On Sunday afternoon, I brought a box from the garage containing more than a dozen small containers, each with the ashes of one of the cats that have lived with us over the years.
We took them all out onto the deck, overlooking our back yard and the welcoming shade of the mango trees. One by one, we picked up the containers. Each had a small label with the name of the cat that had been such a part of our lives. One by one, we opened them, pulled out the small plastic bag inside, and emptied the remains into a bucket half-filled with soil. One by one, we moved through the generations of cats, remembering each of them, retelling their stories to each other, shedding tears, then mixing them into the soil. The first container was actually a glass jar containing the ashes of Emma, kitten #2. The rest of the metal boxes were different sizes and shapes, each marked with a cat’s name, some accompanied by condolence cards signed by our vets and their staff.
When we were done, we stopped for a glass of wine. We let the silence speak.
And the next morning, all of our former cats became part of our newly renovated yard, the bucket of soil added to that being used to put additional plants along the side and front of our house. A bit here, a bit there.
All of our cats are now here at home.
And, yes, there’s a story behind the rusted boxes you can see in the photo above. They were stored on the bottom shelf of the book shelves in our bedroom. Being on the bottom shelf, they were in that 15″ zone of vulnerability to acts of random cat pee. Over the many years, the boxes that had been there the longest fell victim to the drive-by peeing many times, despite our efforts to remove the odors and repel future deposits.
Meanwhile, Romeo seems to have come back from his last vet visit with a cold. He’s been sneezing this week. Unless he shows other symptoms, we’ll treat this as a common cold and see if it passes before too long. The other cats have had a relatively uneventful week. Check them out below.
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