Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tribute to a Kindred Spirit

This morning I was up early as usual. I sat at my computer in the glow of the lamplight, working steadily and with focused determination on something important. After what must have been a long while (because by the time this happened, the sun was up ... and I hadn't even realised), my concentration was broken by Jasper, who jumped onto my lap, purring.

The way he jumped was not steady. He tottered a bit before settling. I squeezed him tightly, recognizing in that moment of tottering that he is 'getting on in years'. He is now ten. I got him in 1998. He was born to a tabby cat named Lily (ironic, since that's the name of the novel I started writing a while around then) who lived under a friend's house. He was so small when I got him and on the drive home he sat perched on my shoulder like a bird.

I was living with my then house mate Frances who absolutely hated cats ... but somehow she accepted Jasper. Maybe because at that time we were living in a huge house and Jas spent his time in my room (which in itself was almost the size of a small apartment) and the balcony which ran along the length of it, which he used to access the great outdoors. From the word go, he was very loving and attached to me.

Standing at the sink brushing my teeth, if I happened to have on track pants or jeans (anything long), I would feel little claws climbing up me, as if I were a tree, from my ankles to my shoulder, to perch like a bird, where he would sit looking at us reflected in the mirror. Playing my keyboard sitting cross legged on the ground (as I used to play it then), the little claws would clamber up to my back to my shoulder and sit perched, watching my fingers on the keys.

The clambering had to stop when he got bigger and heavier!

I remember him once upon a time approving a friend of mine, V. We had fallen asleep and she was awakened in the night by something cold and clammy in her hand. When she checked, there was a dead lizard placed neatly in her upturned palm, with Jasper sitting nearby purring. To this day we laugh at the memory of that.

Over the years Jasper has moved with me three times and has never strayed or run away. Wherever I am with him, that is home. He has been an affectionate, loving, protective and understanding companion over these years. We have a silent understanding of each other. Those who don't have cats will not understand ... but there is a special and indescribable bond that exists between the feline and its human companion.

There are times when Jasper will wake me up in the morning by pressing one of his paws into my heart chakra, as though to activate it and/or say in his own way "I love you". Amazingly, he does this on Valentine's Day and Christmas Day and sometimes on out of the blue days, like yesterday. Instinctively, whenever I am embarking upon the menstrual cycle, he presses his paw into my stomach and massages it (those who have cats will know the cat massage), before I myself even know what is to come.

Whenever I am coming home, he is either sitting at the gate waiting for me or is at the door to welcome me in. He will run out to sniff my car ... to smell the stories of where I've been.

Sometimes he's a huge lion, hunting for prey, chasing neighbour's dogs out of the garden and down the road, attacking strange cats that enter the yard. Sometimes he's a frightened kitten ... scared of thunder, loud noises, workmen and one of the strange cats that might, on occasion, overpower him.

When he jumped onto my lap today and I felt his age, a wave of sadness passed over me - but it quickly passed as I felt my heart literally open up in great appreciation for having this special spirit companion in my life. Our animals are sent to us. In many ways he's still young, playful and very healthy, still gets up to mischief ... and I'm sure he has a long way to go.

There was something about today, the way he jumped onto my lap ... I knew that he knew that I was working on something important ... and that he was saying: "I'm here with you while you do it ..."

Thank you, Jasper, for being.

Sunday Scribblings: Listen up, this is important


Anonymous said...

as a cat lover i am really moved by this piece spec. i feel this way about tomahawk - he is irreplaceable and very special to me.

Sherri B. said...

This was so touching and brought tears to my and Jasper are very lucky to have eachother. He sounds like a beautiful soul.

Samantha said...

This is a beautiful relationship. Sadly my "cat" experience has not been a good one. The last time I had any interaction with a cat, it was a stray my children adopted. She adored the children, but detested my husband and myself.
The last straw was when she menacingly barred the back door to prevent me from entering, hissing and spitting angrily at me. As I dashed past her, she scratched me on my ankle.
That cat even banged furiously at the back door after I closed it. She was the possesed evil cat from a horror story as I ran around the house closing windows blocking ll her attempts at getting at me....

I suppose if we had her from a kitten, it would have been different. But I'll wait till I settle in my own place...

Lynn Cohen said...

Of course I am deeply moved by your story of Jasper and YOU.
What a sweetheart he is and has been from day one. How lucky both of you are to have each other.
Yes, I know the cat massage...I get full back massages, but am sure for Henry V there is something sexual going on...hummm.
One he ended it by nipping me on my neck. Ouch!
The lizard in the hand snip is too funny, but I would have died on the spot had it been MY hand.
I am happy for you both and hope you have many years together ahead.
You wrote it beautifully too.
Thanks for sharing.

Lynn Cohen said...

Sweet photo of him too...
Any news on the traveling camera?

Elspeth said...

Patrice and Fledgling, I can see you are cat lovers. Samantha, I don't mean to laugh, but that cat story is hilarious!! And Lynn, yes, news on camera. Will share soon.

Anonymous said...

this is a very beautiful account of the bond that you have. you almost make me want to get a cat! if i do it will have to be male.. they're nicer.