This tribute was originally written in 2010. It has gone around the world through different venues to encourage and bless others. Felt it was time to share the blessing here.
How did I find myself in a desolate house, sitting on a piano bench in the entryway to a living room, swirling with cats? Gwen, a dear lady battling brain cancer knew she was terminal. She wanted to make sure her menagerie of pets found homes before she passed away. There were chickens, peacocks, dogs, and fourteen cats. Being a cat lover, a friend asked if I could adopt one. I was willing though reluctant because my own cat of ten years, Gregory, was in poor health.
The next thing I heard about Gwen was that she was in hospice. Her cancer had progressed quicker than expected and none of her cats had been adopted. I was moved to visit Gwen, despite my reservations of owning another cat, and shared with her that I would be willing to take one of hers. She was so pleased.
It was two weeks before I would visit again because my own cat Gregory’s health took a turn for the worse, and I had to have him put to sleep. His final resting place is out in the yard beside the garage where he enjoyed sunning himself. After some grieving time I made the call to Gwen’s caretaker to arrange a visit to adopt one of her “children.”
How do you decide which one of fourteen cats should get a new home? That day I learned you don’t pick the cat, you let the cat pick you. There on that piano bench in Gwen’s living room entryway I try to focus on all the cats that seem to occupy every nook and cranny of the house. Few take notice of me, and then this long scraggly haired bow-legged cat of mostly white with patches of browns, blacks, and greys jumps on the bench and reaches out his left paw to touch my arm. He does this gently over and over again until I pick him up. Underneath all that hair he’s just skin and bones. As soon as he’s in my arms he becomes very affectionate and begins to purr. I set him down on the bench again, and he goes right back to touching my arm repeatedly with his paw.
I learn his name is Beaux Beaux. Turns out he’s the oldest cat in the bunch at twenty. I wasn't exactly sure I wanted a cat that was already past his prime, and continued looking at others, but something kept drawing me back to Beaux Beaux. Didn't he deserve a home just as much as a cat who was much younger? Old or not, he’d already won my heart, so Beaux Beaux goes home with me that day. Though it was not in my plan originally, I also decide to take a second cat, fifteen year old female Pokie.
Having Beaux Beaux and Pokie come live with me became an answer to prayer for Gwen. Our heavenly Father knew exactly how things should work out. Shortly after my new cats arrived they each went on a trip to hospice to visit Gwen. Walking into her room with Beaux Beaux in my arms was confirmation that I had done the right thing. As soon as Gwen saw her “baby” she literally almost came flying out of her bed at the sight of him. With tears and excitement she shared that out of all her cats, Beaux Beaux was her favourite. With her life ebbing out of her she had never imagined seeing him again, and was overjoyed at this reunion. A friend was there to document our visit with photos.
Pokie fell asleep a couple of months ago, and today I pay tribute to the affectionate feline who was Beaux Beaux. Early this morning his life came to an end in my arms in a most excruciating and painful way.
It hasn’t been easy losing three cats in the space of six months. That being said I’d do it all again for it was sheer joy having both Pokie and Beaux Beaux the short time they were here. Sure, they were both well beyond their years, and some may call me foolish for taking them in, but it reminds me of how our heavenly Father, who is no respecter of persons, looks at each of us. Each person is important in His eyes no matter the age, race, or gender. He wants to take each of us in if we will just turn our hearts to Him and surrender.
Gwen, that classy sassy energetic sweet lady has gone to her rest as well. As friends and family gathered for her memorial service, through a window on the North side of the church you could see a house across an open field. There a window was open and curtains were blowing in the breeze. On the window sill, amongst the flowing curtains, sat two cats. As I walked to the front of the church to share a few words about Gwen and her cats I paused at the window to glance across the field. Those cats were still in the window and they appeared to be dancing with the curtains.
I wanted to stay at the window taking in the scene, but collecting myself I continued to the front to tell those gathered about the house across the way with the window open and cats playing in the breeze. I named the two cats there in the window. You see, that house belonged to Gwen. The cats in the window were two of several that had yet to be adopted. I then proceeded to share about Gwen’s love of animals, the story of how I had been blessed with Pokie and Beaux Beaux, and how they had cheered her in her final days with a personal visit.
These experiences of loss are heartbreaking. I find myself sad for the moment yet looking back fondly, and looking forward in faith to that blessed hope. I’ll be looking for sister Gwen in Heaven.
And in the here and now? I want to celebrate and say I am greatful each and every day to my Father in heaven for the precious gift of pets that have graced my life. I truly believe You would not have blessed us with pets without providing something for us to remember them by in heaven. This tribute is for You Father, to thank You for Mr.Tibbs, Sneezer, Tasha, Friday, Domino, Gregory, Pokie, Beaux Beaux, and most importantly, the gift You personally gave because You loved the world so much. We will be eternally singing Your praises for the gift of Your only begotten Son.