2016 was a pretty pants year all round. On the 10 December, I had to say goodbye to one of the housemates who featured on this blog: Madame Mim, you’d know her better as Her Majesty.
She was 19 years old, which is a very good age for a cat. My sister got her as a kitten, so we’ve had her in our lives a long time. I will miss her steadfast presence in my life, the comforting weight of her next to me, the special way she tinkled her bell when she was unimpressed, the click of her claws when she walked on the floorboards, the warmth of her purr. So many things.
I remember when she was a kitten, and she singed her whiskers investigating a candle. I remember when she was old enough to be let out of the house: she got stuck on our patio roof. I remember when I moved to Watermans, and took her with me. It was the first time she’d ever dealt with stairs. It took a month, and me taking her to the top of them, before she would climb them.
When I painted, I had to have two water containers: one for my brushes, one for her; otherwise she’d drink my paint water.
She was the silent mass of black who kept me company through assignments and blog posts, almost every bath I’ve had involved her sitting on the bathmat to keep me company….or insisting she be patted while I bathed. In the last couple of years, she’d deciding drinking the water at the bottom of the shower was a delicacy. I haven’t had a shower to myself and unobserved for about 2 years: she was outside the shower door, waiting for me to get out so she could get in and drink the shower water. Being able to shower without a feline deadline has been an adjustment.
The silent reminders (and the many not-so-silent hints) that it was approaching dinner time. She would start off subtle, then get very chatty.
When she got chatty, I always figured it was because she thought she could talk people. And that I understood. Sometimes I did: the cat bowl is empty, let me out…other times it was a regular gossip session on her end, and I just acted like I understood.
The ability to communicate a thousand expressions with the twitch of an ear or the change of an eye.
Her ability to both dribble, and later on to drool, when she was content. There’s a definite difference between dribble and drool…something I’ve learned over the years.
The steady, comforting presence to the right of my pillow on the bed.
She was a very mannered bedfellow: she’d miaow, or sit on the floor next to the bed looking hopeful until I patted the cover, then she’d jump up (towards the end of her life it was sometimes more of a scramble) and nestle into position.
Her diabolical strategy for waking me up, mainly when she wanted to get under the covers. It involved moving her head until her whiskers just touched my face and then purring. When that didn’t work and I rolled onto my other side, walking around my head (on my pillow and, yes, treading on my hair) and doing the same on the other side of my face. And…when that didn’t work and I rolled over to my original side, walking around my head (on my pillow, still treading on my hair) to do the same again to the original side of my face. Diabolical, stubborn…and impossible to resist forever.
Her love for the sunny spot: particular favourites were on the sofa, on my bed and on the patio. She could bake for hours on the patio paving stones.
Sometimes when I came back from work, I could never be entirely sure she’d moved during the day as she was occupying the same spot on the bed. She had a particular fondness for covers folded over, pyjamas or clothes left on the bed: anything you could nestle into and nap for long periods of time.
Her patient presence, even when I tried it very severely by introducing a new cat into the house. I had two single cat household cats, in one house.
She tolerated it, she mostly tolerated him being annoying.
I think – although this is even more anthropomorphic personification – it’s been rough for him. One day she was there, the next she was gone.
She did have a good life, she was loved and she is missed. And I was with her to the very last.
The house feels a little emptier now.
It echoes in strange places now, and in others is strangely silent.