Patches died the other day.
Most people reading my opening sentence will conclude: "Patches", must be a pet, probably a cat, no big
deal, he'll get over it.
But the death of my beloved Patches is a big deal and I will not soon get over it.
On a spring day, some twenty years ago, Patches wobbled into my life. A tiny four-week old Calico, she was
my shadow and constant companion. To others my life may have seemed trivial and mundane, but my fluffy dynamo was fascinated
by everything that I did.
When I left for work my furry buddy would follow me to the front door and cry plaintively. To soothe my
guilt over leaving my baby alone in my forlorn apartment, one day I brought home "BW" a mature 20-pound alley cat to keep
BW waddled from room to room with the diminutive hairball tagging along, running circles around her.
BW tried everything in her power to repel the affections of the pesky kitten, but hissing, spitting and growling noises only
succeeded in making her more determined to win over BW as a playmate.
After two weeks BW finally succumbed to the boundless energy and unrelenting enthusiasm of the little creature
and they became the best of friends. Patches never failed to win over any visitor to my home, whether is was a repairman,
acquaintance or relative.
In my life I've had a parade of jobs, apartments and friends -- Patches was the one constant. She
was always there for me when I came home from work; she had a bottomless reservoir of playfulness, love and affection.
When I moved from San Francisco to Lynchburg four years ago, I brought Patches with me, I never considered
leaving her behind. Patches easily made the transition from apartment-bound city feline to free-wheeling country cat. She
enjoyed playing in the backyard with my dog Midnite and she loved chasing the mice that were foolish enough to venture inside
One day I was in the living room watching TV and Patches was sitting on the coffee-table. I called
her over to me and she tried twice to jump on the sofa unsuccessfully, I was shocked because even though she was very old,
she still had the energy of a kitten. The next day she was unable to take more than two steps without keeling over, and then
it got to the point where her legs wouldn't support her. The amazing animal who was once a dancing dervish, now
couldn't even stand up.
I had to put Patches to sleep. Yes, Patches died the other day, and it may be no big deal in the great scheme
of things, but in my humble home there was a great emptiness.
I adopted Ebony, a ferocious kitten from the Lynchburg Humane society. She is a holy terror, decorating
my drapes with pin pricks made with her claws, shredding my paper towels and toilet paper, knocking things over and turning
off my computer and refrigerator. She is more of a stalker than a companion, but she is very cute and I'm sure that one day
I will write an essay praising her virtues. At least that's what I keep telling myself. At any rate she hasn't made me forget
Patches, but she is such a troublemaker, I never forget that she is around.
By Robert Paul Reyes