I do not want to write this column. But I must.
February has once again taken a beloved member of this family.
Beginning in 1965, February took my mother. Through the years it took a dear Dalmatian, Maggie; my father; my sister; my Arabian, Pinkie.
And now, my Lisa.
Lisa came to me as a grown cat from Angels for Animals 15 years ago. Of all the cats in the old shelter that day, she spoke to me and played with the drawstring on my jacket and butted my chin with her white head with its calico ears and cheek patch to match her calico tail.
Dear sweet Lisa gave up the last of her nine lives Feb. 10, with Dr. Robert K. Reynolds gently easing her to the other side as she slept beside the bathroom radiator.
Hanging on the wall over the bathtub is a wonderful watercolor of Lisa, which Dorin did and signed in 1995.
Lisa, named after Lisa Freyer who took her and her kittens to Angels, was supposed to have been 3 years old when I brought her home from the shelter and had had at least one litter, but who knows.
Once released from the carrier on the bed in the guest room, she simply assumed that room was hers and it always has been.
An expandable baby gate across the door to the kitchen allowed her to come and go as she pleased, while keeping the dogs — Ori was just a puppy, Maggie and Barney were still here, although Barney was shaky — out of her headquarters and restaurant.
Lisa quickly told them all who was in charge. If one dared to chase her, she’d either duck into her room or climb on a dining room chair and swat from under the tablecloth whatever nose found her.
Never once did she indicate any desire to go outside or into the barn and she made many perches in the house from where she could watch the birds, chipmunks or whatever.
When a visiting cat could be seen outside her bedroom window, you never heard such a roaring from such a little cat.
There was the time a chipmunk somehow got into the house and into her room. She was no help in my trying to catch it — she actually almost seemed afraid of it.
The deed was finally done, no thanks to her, and the exhausted grinny was released outdoors.
To my knowledge, she never caught anything except for an occasional daddy-long-leg or cricket that had the misfortune to catch her eye.
When Maggie and Barney left, she settled her full attention on Ori — whose 12th birthday would have been the day she left — and when we’d be on the couch together, she carefully washed his face and ears until she was satisfied they were clean enough.
And when Little Sister came, she undertook the same chore for her.
In fact, the day Dr. Valerie Thorn-Baltes eased sister’s passing, Lisa had to give one final ear wash.
And yet she had them all buffaloed. If she was lying where they had to go around her to get to the other room, they dawdled until I made her move.
They knew she’d swipe at a hind leg. If she was lying inside the kitchen door when we came in from the barn, they learned to jump over her. Never once did she jump to the counter or table.
The day darling Winnie came after four terrible dogless days, Lisa took one look — if she’d been a person, she’d have rolled her eyes and mouthed, oh dear, here’s another one — gave one warning hiss, and that settled that.
The two of them became best friends, and Lisa had another Dalmatian to wash in the evenings on the couch.
I usually take my supper on a tray on the couch, and if something on my plate struck Lisa’s fancy, she’d put her paw on my arm, begging, claws in. If I didn’t respond, the claws would come out. I kept a little coaster there for her snacks.
Always affectionate, she became more so as she aged. When visitors came, she had to greet them, and she developed a fascination with their shoes and would cushion her head on the toe.
She begged to be held, and quickly got comfortable for a long nap that ended only when she was put down.
There was no sleeping in on early mornings. As soon as Lisa heard Toby’s wake-up call at 7:55 — he slams his gate back and forth — she would begin to wail.
And I’d call, “Lisa, we’re in here,” and she’d come in and jump onto the bed and prepare to prod me awake, sticking her nose into my face.
If I would be gone longer than she thought I should, I’d come home and find her on the bed with Winnie and she’d give me what-for with loud chirps.
Every now and then she’d get a burr under her saddle and come racing through the living room, sharpening her claws on the rug — an Oriental one at that — and then jumping to my lap for the evening.
I won’t burden you with the details of her illness, which was sudden and severe. She had to be hospitalized for several days but there was no resolution or improvement, and scant hope.
Dr. Reynolds — he and Dr. Thorn-Baltes have shared her care over the years — brought her home this sad February day so I could be with her at the end of her living life and the beginning of her journey home.
Don’t anyone dare say to me, “…but she was just a cat…”
I remember sweet Lisa with love. She was such a joy. And she is so missed.