Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homage to Hermes

Our old Himalayan, Hermes, is going to see Doc Schnabel tomorrow at the Weedsport Animal Hospital. He has a horrendous cold that is getting worse it seems. He's lost a lot of weight, and we are very concerned. Whether he has a week or a year, he is closing in on the end of his life and I want to somehow memorialize that life.

I came home early today to sit by the fire and read while he slept on a piece of paper on the floor. He's chosen - as is his wont - to do his own thing, which is to sit on my husband's chair in his workshop instead. That is the essence of Hermes - he has his own personality and will do what he wants, even more so than most cats.

My son and I gave him to my mother Christmas of 1992. She had insisted on no more animals because she wouldn't be around to take care of them, she said. (She lived another 14 years, protesting that every day was her last.) We brought him over to her house in Syracuse in a basket and let him find his way out. It took him a couple hours while we waited breathlessly for his appearance.

He was a shy cat, rarely seen. Once someone came and he shot out of the living room, forgetting that the door was shut. He burst through a glass panel in the French doors, with his hard head seeming not the worse for wear. Still, he hated having his head touched but my mother insisted that trait existed before he slammed into the glass.

She took him outside, but only on a leash. He was so beautiful she thought someone might steal him. He was lovely - a perfect flamepoint Himalayan whose eyes glowed red in reflected light at night. "The Lion," a friend dubbed him.

He was so shy (how shy was he?) my husband saw him only once before we were married, despite spending a great deal of time at my mother's getting her ready for the move to the country. Once here, Hermes blossomed. He was allowed outside alone and skulked after one of our other cats. He spent the day going in and out. My mother would barely get back to the couch with her rollator when he would want in again. Good exercise.

Once my mother passed away, Hermes became a social butterfly. He joined the other cats by day and enjoyed being with people. He often sat on my old computer monitor when I typed, having climbed over the keyboard first. If you fell asleep in his presence, he would gently paw your face to wake up and talk to him. He liked to talk at people, and seemed to listen. My son said you could watch him all day and never grow bored.

One of my favorite memories is seeing him sit out a ways with my mother and her little dog on a park bench under the trees in the spring and summer. The three of them would mosey out there with a book and just sit complacently together in the late afternoon sun, three old codgers enjoying each others' company.

Like all our animals, and our friends' animals, he will be missed but remembered with great love.