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A tribute to my beloved Shasta and Ispahan

14 years ago

As I sit here late tonight, wine glass in hand and tears in my eyes, I have finally accepted that my beloved blue-eyed Shasta is gone. I wanted to share some photos here and a little tribute....(I have upon occasion shared photos of my 4 cats here....Shasta was my oldest.) My kids and I picked her out of the litter when she was just born, and she grew up with my youngest, Tiffany. I have photos of 4 yr. old Tiffany with a beaming smile, hugging her new kitten Shasta, both of them with huge blue eyes, so adorable that it made your heart melt. Over the years Shasta got us all through some tough times. As a struggling single mom with 3 kids, sometimes after getting all the kids to bed I would cuddle up with Shasta and she would absorb my tears with her fluffy, luxurious fur. Shasta and her sister Lily were indoor-only cats because I live out in the woods and I feared for their safety. Then I met my DH, we adopted 2 more cats, and my small house got crowded. The 2 boy cats went outside everyday and Shasta would sit in the window waiting for her "boys" to come inside....she fretted over them like they were her kittens, even though she was spayed. She would try desperately to paw open the door to let them in and worried so if they came home late.

For many, many years it was like this with Shasta sitting on the couch or the window snoozing, waiting up for her boys. She was safe inside, but we wondered if she longed to be out "there" with the boys, running free and feeling the sunshine on her back. When my 85-yr. old mom who has Alzheimer's came to live with us back in May, we renovated the downstairs for her which left us an even more crowded house. My DH convinced me that Shasta had lived 10 years in complete safety, but had she REALLY lived? The past couple of years it seemed all she did was sleep, bored to death. She seemed to have lost her spark. The only time she perked up was when she was in the window, staring out at a world she never knew. So we started putting her out on our large deck just to see how she would respond. At first she was terrified by every breeze or falling leaf. After several days of venturing no farther than the deck she finally went down the steps, tentatively sniffing and watching nervously. Within days Shasta was running through the glorious grass chasing butterflies, wandering through my rose garden sniffing at every bloom, marveling at the magical world she had bravely discovered. When she would tire of all the exploring she would bed down in my rose garden, under Ispahan, who grew so tall and provided such cooling shade. This was Shasta's first and final summer, a summer of wonder and excitement and living the life she had watched all those years from the window. All summer long, even after Ispahan dropped all his petals and was just a fountain of green, Shasta could be found beneath, sniffing the air and watching over her beloved boys.

Shasta was wonderful company for Mom who could never remember any of the cats names or which end was which, often patting their tails and marveling at how long their "necks" were. Shasta would sit beside Mom as she sat in the adirondack chair in the garden, each of them enjoying the attention they gave each other. It was a gift to see the two of them together.

I am always careful to get all the cats in early, before it gets dark. One night things got hectic as things will and Shasta did not want to come in so I left the porch light on while I tended to getting Mom to bed. It was one of Mom's difficult days, as Alzheimer's can be unpredictable and I was feeling weary. I tried calling Shasta again but she did not come and out of sheer exhaustion I fell asleep. Shasta never came home. We walked the woods, the neighborhood, got posters out...but the days, then weeks went by. What became of her we don't know, and in some ways that makes it harder and in some ways easier. As I said, I am surrounded by woods and mountains and it is probable that she met her fate out there. But not being able to bury her under her beloved Ispahan makes it hard to have closure. In fact, it is difficult to even go into the rose garden at all, and now the once perfectly-kept garden is overcome with weeds and blackspot. I haven't the heart to fuss over the roses without my faithful helper. The only closure I have is to pay tribute to her and all the glorious felines who grace our homes and gardens....and hearts.

And Ispahan, who will continue to grow in beauty and in honor of a lovely blue-eyed cat who loved roses just like her Mom.










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