On this Day a Beautiful, Gentle Giant Entered the Void
It was a hard day today. Our wonderful old friend and dear companion, Dickens Hackett-Davis, went to the vet for the last time. Kidney failure.
Dickens lived an essentially perfect life for a cat of his temperament. Had he gone where there were children, he would have imploded. Had he gone where demands were made of him, he would have crumbled. Dickens was the only kitten in the litter, and the breeder was not much of a kitten handler, so he never learned how to play with others, and he was terribly hand-shy for years. He was so beautiful. We would reach out to touch him, and he would jump to the floor like we had lobster claws on the ends of our arms.
Which was fine. Everyone here was a bit broken in one way or the other, and that was his brokenness. Betsy and I let him be just as he was, never pushing him, never trying to go too far too fast. I had my online book business, so I was here with him and his brother Henry all day every day. I would hand feed Dickens lunch meat, which helped him learn that I was not a threat.
He recognized that I was a steady food source, and that apparently I didn’t plan to eat him – anytime soon – which went a long way for a Maine Coon cat who would top out near 25 pounds as a full adult. Betsy suggested I start trying to groom him. He didn’t like it at first, but then he grew to love it. Really, the pleasure was so great that he’d go nuts sometimes when I was brushing him. He would grab the brush between his two paws and start rubbing his face against the wire bristles as hard as he could.
Over time, between hand feeding and brushing, He began to trust me. He would let me touch him, then pick him up and carry him. Eventually he became my lap cat. When a cat that size is sitting in your lap, trust me, you don’t do much of anything else. It was a fight to hold a book with one hand and stroke Dickens with the other.The only time he ever sat in Betsy’s lap was last Saturday, when she took him to the vet for the next-to-the-last time. I guess it was a going away present.
Dickens worshipped his brother Henry for the ten years that Henry was with us. At nine pounds, Henry ran the house and bossed his brother mercilessly. But don’t let anyone try to do anything to Dickens! That little cat would attack in defense of his big brother. Neither one of them ever figured out that Dickens was almost three times the size of Henry. Love is blind.
Poor ole Dickens was terrified of the expensive flea medication that I had to squirt on his neck once a month. It would wreck both him and me emotionally for most of a day. Really, it was awful, the worst day of the month.
Some years back I tried another tack. I tried holding his medicine up and showing it to him, so that he wouldn’t be caught by surprise. I talked to him about it, told him what it was, and why I did what I did. Then I could walk over, hold him with my left hand and squirt him with my right. He’d stand there, knowing I was trustworthy, but hating the medicine.
He’d scoot like a rabbit as soon as I relaxed my hand. But it ceased to be traumatic for either one of us, which was wonderful. I’d give him a treat and scratch his head and he’d forget all about it in no time. I always felt badly that I didn’t treat him with such respect to begin with, but no one in my family talked to cats. You grabbed them, did your duty, and they ran off to a closet. So that was the way of it until it wasn’t.
Dickens loved Betsy to death, and she was crazy about him. Yet he and she and the dogs knew that I was Dickens’ mother. He was the only animal I was ever a mother to. I did for him, and he rewarded me with heavy, purring warmth in winter as I sat in the living room reading book after book. He would look into my eyes like I was a god. He did that today, right before he died: stretched his old neck up and gave me the full gazing before he left.
Because of their size, Maine Coons don’t have a long lifespan. The average is 12 years, and Dickens beat it by a little over a year. Thirteen years is a long way back for Fredness. He was here when I was simply trying to learn how to live without being drunk and crazy. And he was here through the awakenings and the advent of Awakening Clarity and the different stages the teaching has gone through.
Dickens saw the full gamut of Fredness close up, and he loved me anyway. Caring for him was part of what helped to gentle me down. I wasn’t always as I am now. I loved that cat with all of my heart and cried like a baby at the vet’s today.
I still love him. Betsy does, too, and little Jack. I’m not so sure about Willy! Dickens was always the most powerful thing in the house. He was never declawed, and had paws and claws like a grizzly bear, but he never hurt any of us, not even little Jack, who as a puppy would make such a nuisance of himself! Dickens was half again as large as Jack, but they became friends, which mostly meant that Dickens would put up with Jack licking him and trying to play.
Betsy and I both knew today was the day. I had silently wondered for the last couple of months if he was going to make it to the new house. I found out that Betsy had had the same thoughts. Well, he didn’t. Forever accomnodating, he died the week before we’re going to move. Poor old thing lived on the wrong side of town for his whole life, but he never knew it. Heaven doesn’t have an address.
Dickens was Love, and Beauty, and Joy all wrapped up like a Christmas present in the softest, most luxurious fur I ever felt in my life. I told Betsy earlier today that he would always be our boy, and that he was never really going anywhere. And that’s true. Our love is unchanged, and where could Oneness go?
He’s here now, as I write these words, and the tears roll while I’m looking at his majestic face in the photo. I am so grateful, so very, very grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
April 18, 2017 @ 8:41 pm
Thank you, Fred, for your poignant eulogy. As a pet lover (we currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats), I have never known a time when I did not share my life and living space with either; and I have been witness to many a transition. I appreciate and share your loss.
April 19, 2017 @ 1:57 am
Thank you, Vince. ♥
April 18, 2017 @ 8:52 pm
Oh my, tears even came here as I am mommy to a sweet little kitty, Frisco. He has been so loving, caring and right by my side the whole time I was home sick. Seems you had the same in your special friend for so many years. Dickens, despite the years, knew it was ok to transition now, knowing all is truly well.
April 19, 2017 @ 1:56 am
Thank you, Barb! Dickens bowed out. Ever the gentleman.
April 18, 2017 @ 9:18 pm
What a moving and heartfelt eulogy for your dear friend Dickens, Fred. My deepest gratitude to you for telling his story in a way that opened my heart and allowed me to know him without ever having met him. I weep with you over the physical loss of your friend, and celebrate the blessing of such a sacred bond. My love to you, Betsy, and Dickens. xo
April 19, 2017 @ 1:55 am
Hey, Irene! Thank you!
April 18, 2017 @ 9:48 pm
Oh Fred and Betsy and Willie and Jack, I’m so sorry for your loss! Dickens was such a gorgeous cat. I always loved seeing him during our sessions, walking across your desk. It was touching to read his story, how he came to love you all so. And love never dies. Peace and love to all of you. ♡Kathleen and Chris
April 19, 2017 @ 1:55 am
Thank you, Kathleen.
April 19, 2017 @ 1:48 am
I’m so glad you and he had each other, and I got to read more about him and your relationship here – thank you. He was significant to me too ever since you shared one of your home videos. It was of the dogs, but sitting up above was Dickens. He was witnessing, and so I called him the “cat in the back”. I loved whenever I got to see him after that, so sweet and soft looking, as I get to enjoy again in your wonderful photo. Now, as always, he is the Cat Who Is Everywhere. I wish I could “pet” you and Betsy and Willie and Jack in person, but in honor of Dickens being purrfect, like his dad, and All, I know my heart felt affections for you all is what is best for the now too.
Thank You for Dickens, and thank you Dickens
April 19, 2017 @ 1:52 am
Thank you, Mike!
April 19, 2017 @ 3:03 pm
What a special cat & what a lovely eulogy. And such a beautiful photo. Thanks Fred.
April 19, 2017 @ 4:02 pm
Hello, everybody. I am in the midst of a gigantic awakening. I’ve been in session with two special people and they were there to catch me. Lucky me. It’s more, more, more than is imaginable.
April 19, 2017 @ 4:13 pm
April 19, 2017 @ 4:29 pm
Dave, whom you don’t know, and Julee are the ones – right there on my calendar! – who were there to catch me. I’m beginning to orient again. Wow is right.
April 19, 2017 @ 6:47 pm
Wow, again! I look forward to hearing all about it!
April 19, 2017 @ 4:03 pm
And thank you, Max.