In Memoriam: Hillary the Cat

Our good tabby-cat Hillary died this week, at the ripe old age of twenty. The house feels strangely empty. We miss his quiet, gentlemanly presence. He was a devoted friend, especially to my husband Tony. Evenings he would lie in Tony’s arms, paw stretched out to touch his chest, like a baby.

When he was younger, the two of them would sometimes take a walk together around our meadow. Hillary would bounce back, tail fluffed, excited at having ventured into this scary place so close to the forest.

The two of them also had a daily ritual. Until he was too frail to go outdoors, Hillary would walk to the mailbox with Tony every morning to collect the newspaper. I loved to stand at the window and watch. Tail aloft like a slender questionmark, he would stroll at Tony’s sideĀ  to a point about halfway down the drive, where he would wait, invisible to any passing dog. On their way back to the house his pace quickened; once inside he knew he would receive a kitty treat.

From the moment he curled into the palm of my hand as a tiny kitten, I knew he was a mellow cat. Mellow he remained, right up to the end. We buried him in the orchard, where the white petals of plum blossom will fall on his grave.

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