John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Friday, December 8, 2017

In memoriam Mr. Saunders

It is not quite a year since we lost Saunders, the abandoned stray who spotted us as easy marks.

Though we took him to a vet for his first shots and were assured of his good health, he developed feline leukemia anyhow and was with us for only two years.

I don't want to be mawkish, but he was a cat with a big personality. A boulevardier, he sauntered  along the streets of our neighborhood, paying calls at various houses. And he was affectionate. Every time he returned to grace us with his presence and I picked him up and slung him over my shoulder like a baby, he purred so loudly he could be heard in the next room.

My plan was that after I left the paragraph factory, Mr. Saunders would be the cat of my retirement. As I sat on the porch reading (don't tell Kathleen I was going to be sitting on the porch reading books instead of doing yard work), he would doze companionably on the chair across from me.

But he is gone into the realm of what would have been.

Miss Massie lives with us now, and she is an excellent cat, though perhaps not as enthusiastic for me as her predecessor. It is a good thing to have a cat in the window.

We suffer great griefs, major losses, and learn to bear up. But the little losses, too, leave a pang.




3 comments:

  1. The loss of a cat is no small thing. Here's clueless Boswell describing cat-loving Johnson:

    This reminds me of the ludicrous account he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young gentleman of good family. “Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.” And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favorite cat, and said, “But Hodge shan’t be shot: no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.”

    (This is also the epigraph of Nabokov's Pale Fire (or possibly of the poem within it).

    My wife once saw a cat killed on the street while she was on the way to therapy. The therapist commented, "You're as upset as if you had just seen a person killed." When I heard this, I knew that that therapeutic relationship was doomed, because to us a cat is a person (not human, of course, but a person with a personality). A year later, Gale stopped seeing that therapist, and none too soon.

    May those memories lighten grief.

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  2. A cat (or a dog) is a person, as those of us who love them know. We grieve, and remember, always remember.

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  3. Every cat we’ve lost (and there have been many over the last 50 years) has left a cat-sized hole in our hearts. We now serve at least a pair at any given time. Comforting a bereaved feline heals us, too.

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