I lost my best friend today. Her name was Fran. I first met Fran 14 years ago when she was just a 5 week old kitten. She came to me as an abuse case who had been stomped on, burnt and crimped with pliers by 2 small boys. Despite our best efforts, she never regained the use of her back legs.
Despite this, Fran not only survived but flourished. I needed to express her bladder and colon 2-3 times a day throughout her life and, since “cat squeezers” are often hard to come by, she came with me almost everywhere. Fran went camping, hiking, dined out in restaurants, and strolled though seaside towns on my shoulder. People would often ask what kind of cat is that? not used to seeing a cat sitting on a shoulder in boutiques and picnic areas. As her story is lengthy, I would often simply answer “a Bulgarian shoulder cat”! I think her favorite trips were to Acadia State park where she sat on the rocks for hours, staring out at the ocean as the surf crashed onto the shore; camping in Mount Ascutney where she climbed the mountain, explored the site and enjoyed the campfire; and the ferry ride to Nantucket.
Fran never topped five pounds but had the heart of a lion. She was always in charge at both my home and my son’s in Maine. She told all the dogs and cats what they could and could not do. She would come flying into the kitchen whenever food was involved, grab your leg and scream “meeaatt”. She had a wild sense of adventure. I would have to pad the floor around the furniture because she would climb to the back of the couch, get a running start and hurl herself off the end, going for distance! She would repeat this over and over. She would race up a flight of stairs, turn around and fly down as fast as she could, often airborne towards the end. Christmas was her favorite time of year, climbing the tree, opening everyone’s presents and chasing bows around the house.
At the end of every day, Fran would race me to the bed, curl up by my neck and have me scratch her neck. She would often wake me in the middle of the night, a single nail in an eyelid with a gentle lift, to say “hey, are you awake?? I’d like another neck scratch. Of course I would comply.
Fran has been an inspiration to me. Her indomitable spirit, constant joy for life and positive attitude in the face of her disabilities. Who will I squeeze? Who will ride on my shoulder? Who will listen to our nighttime, neck scratch conversations? Death comes into our lives with its hideous face and leaves the rest of us lost.
Goodbye Fran, I love you.