It must seem like most of my blogs lately have been laments for dearly departed pets. It feels that way to me anyway. That is what happens when you decide that all of your children should have their own pets and those pets all seem to arrive in your lives around the same time...and then they all depart around the same time. That probably was not well planned by me; however, each of the children's pets arrived in our family in such unique and cherished ways that I have no regrets over any of it even as I say good-bye to our dear Rose.
I try not to play favourites but I will just put it out there that Rose's arrival into our family is my favourite tale ever. She knew where she belonged and her determination to take her place in our family was fierce and unrelenting and without doubt. In the end she was not to be denied and in the end we could deny her nothing. She was a grand spirit.
Rose was our first child's pet. At the time we met Rose we had two older cats and an aging bassett hound that John and I had added to our family when it was just John and I. In 2000 we took the decision to move back to Ontario from Edmonton Alta trucking along our aging pets and three very young children with us...with the fourth child to arrive a year after our move. We moved into our farm in Kirby with its beautiful old barn that echoed silently. There had not been animals in that barn for many years...except the mice and rats. On our first visit back to Listowel, Aidan our eldest at 4 years was romping and playing in the hay mow at Grandma and Grandpa's when we suddenly heard an exclamation of delight from him. As he tells it, a little fuzzy ball of grey popped out of a hole in the mow energetically meowing at him. When he looked down the hole in the mow, he discovered three more fluffy little balls. We needed cats in our barn. Grandpa and Grandma did not need any more cats in their barn. They agreed that the litter of four could move to Kirby as soon as they were weaned off their mother. Aidan promptly named the little grey fuzzy runt of the litter that had exploded out of the hole into his arms Rose. He eagerly awaited her arrival in Kirby a month later.
While the intent of the litter was for them to reside in the barn and while the intent of three of the litter mates was to remain happily in the barn, Rose had other intentions entirely. According to her there had been a massive misunderstanding. According to John, the misunderstanding was entirely on Rose's part. So while John vehemently declared that the kittens would be barn cats and that our two geriatric adult cats in the house would remain the only house cats, Rose vehemently declared through the window of the dining room every evening at supper time that she belonged in the house. Our supper times became a stoic ritual of John eating his meal and kids crying for the kitten while the kitten pasted itself on the outside of the dining room window meowing and crying to be let in. Not to be deterred in the face of John's unrelenting opposition to her relocating to the house, Rose found a hole into the basement and soon took up her pleading song from the very floorboards beneath John's feet. In the end, he could no longer take the yowling from under the floor, the crying of the children and yes maybe even the crying from me to please let the poor little kitten into the house. Rose knew to the centre of her core from the moment she exploded out of the hole in the mow into Aidan's arms that she was meant to be his cat and meant to be a part of our family...in the house.
From the moment she entered our house she was Aidan's cat forever and for always. She was his BIGGEST fan even as the littlest cat we had ever seen. When Aidan would go stomping up the stairs to his room destined for a time out, Rose could be found stomping up the stairs right behind him and hanging in his room until the time out ended. When Aidan had to cool his jets on the bottom stair and rethink his 'not so great' decisions, Rose would be found sitting on the stair with him vigorously debating the injustice of it all. She played outside with him. She played in the house with him. She slept with him every night.
Rose connected with us as a family rather than connecting to the house that we lived in. The first time we went on vacation after Rose joined our family, we hired someone to care for the farm while we were away. When we returned we were informed that the little grey cat had not been sighted once during our absence. In great fear that she had been carried off by a coyote or some other such rascal we ran about the farm calling her name. Eventually we spotted a small grey dot hip hopping across the back field on its way to the house. It was Rose. Apparently if her family was not staying in the house then she was not staying in the house either. Eventually Rose got used to our annual vacation and opted to spend them in the vacant house rather than the woodlot but she was always overjoyed at our return making it clear that she had simply tolerated the vacuous vessel of a house while we were gone.
After Rose joined our family I may have said to John that I thought that each of the kids should have their own pets so that they might experience the bond shared between Aidan and Rose. John may not have agreed but the pets may have come rolling through the front door of the house anyhow. And somehow that decision may have grown into the idea that each child would have a cat and a dog and then somehow we may have ended up with more cats in the house than children due to one child having a wee cat hoarding issue (ahem Harriet). With the arrival of each new pet, Rose would march through the crowd right up to the new pet. I never ever heard her hiss but she could certainly meow. She would give the new pet quite the meowing introduction and then she would reach out with her paw and slap them vigorously several times on both sides of their face and then turn and march off. She did that with cats and dogs alike. We always loved witnessing Rosie's introduction to a new pet and even when I decided to add a wolf-like critter to our menagerie last September a much older Rose still marched up to that wolf River and gave her a good talking to and several slaps for good measure. Despite my best efforts River will still chase Russell and Willie Nelson through the house on occasion. She never chased Rose.
17 years after Rose joined our family she has left us. We are heart-broken. Her fierce spirit will be dearly missed but we will always remember how we loved our Rose and how she loved us. And that is all that really matters in the end. Rest in Peace Rose