If there’s one thing most of us need it’s an occasional sign that we’re heading in the right direction. One thing indigenous people have that most others don’t is a deep connection with nature, which talks to them on a regular basis.
Yes, I’m talking about spirit animals and receiving messages from them.
This morning when I went outside to feed my feral cats this beautiful spider web caught my eye. The fact it was on my deck furniture was slightly less than enchanting, but the perfection of the spider’s handiwork got my attention, especially the way it glistened in the rising sun.
In many cases, if you’re paying attention, you can figure out such a message yourself by considering the animal and its characteristics. At other times, it might be more subtle. In that case, you need a reference of some description to help you figure out what the world is trying to tell you.
Fortunately, I have such a reference, the book “Animal Messengers: An A – Z Guide to Signs and Omens in the Natural World.”
Here’s an excerpt from what it says about spiders: “The spider symbolizes infinite possibilities. With its eight legs it is anchored in every direction, and it weaves together the powers of the elements and their expression into a unified whole. The spider weaves webs of fate, in which we can get caught, and it encourages us to keep searching for new possibilities and explore the endless steps of our journey of learning. If your attention is drawn to a spider it wants to remind you that you are constantly building new webs with your own thoughts, feelings, actions, and visions that contain tasks you must solve and subjects you must deal with.”
As is always the case with such an encounter, this had a very personal meaning to me.
If you’re not listening to what nature is telling you, you’re missing out. If you need a little help discerning what an animal is trying to say, I highly recommend this book by Regula Meyer. Note that it does not contain exotic animals you might see in a zoo, but concentrates on those you’re likely to see in the wild including mammals, birds, invertebrates, and insects, for a total of 145 different animals. It was originally written in German, so some birds common to the United States such as cardinals are not included, either, but overall it’s very insightful.
This book is a masterful work of art in addition to containing a collection of personal experiences from members of several different tribes. These include Navajo, Mi’kmaq, Abenaki, Seneca, Cherokee, Tarahumara, Maya, Olmec, Yaqui, Creek, and Choctaw.
Though testimonials about UFO encounters are included, the majority of the book is on a more spiritual level, dealing with other types of connections with the Star People. These include the importance of ceremony, previous lost civilizations from millennia ago, high technology in the distant past, the origin of indigenous people, and prophecies of the future, which is upon us now.
The book has been around a while, the original copyright in 2000, then renewed in 2012. In today’s world that’s a long time and many things prophesied that may not yet have occurred by either of those dates have by now.
I think my favorite section was “We Wander This World with a Purpose” by Mali Keating. She spoke of the Hopi, where they came from, and their numerous prophecies. Here’s an excerpt of one section that explained so much about our modern world.
“The Anasazi were a people left over from the migration. The people were told they must never stop and build cities, but of course some did…. Cities make people crazy, as we all know. People become greedy and lose the ability to work together.”
Here’s another, that may not have been as apparent when this book was first released as it is now:
“The Hopi said that they would know that the end is coming when roads crisscrossed this continent like the web of a spider–those are the vapor trails of airplanes. You can see vapor trails like the webs of spiders in the sky.”
Actually, roads on which we drive crisscross the continent, too. Those trails in the sky, however, are not vapor trails, they are called chemtrails. Vapor trails are condensation from normal airplanes whereas chemtrails are chemicals such as barium and aluminum being deliberately sprayed in the atmosphere to supposedly combat climate change. This, like so much else out there today, is a lie. If anything, they are causing the climate to go crazy by facilitating weather manipulation.
There are numerous photos of indigenous art and the layout of the book itself is genius, between Nancy Red Star’s commentaries before each entry to her free verse poetry at the conclusion. Reading these stories is not just informative, it’s an experience of another realm beyond what meets the eyes.
A realm that Native Americans and all indigenous people understand.
May we all learn from their ancient wisdom before it’s too late.
Before I retired from NASA I planned for what I wanted to do when I had more time on my hands. One of those things was to pursue my interest in astrology. Of course as a physicist, that’s pretty weird, but I’ve always been pretty hard to pigeon-hole. At any rate, I enrolled in the International Academy of Astrology, pursued a rigorous course of learning that was the equivalent of a bachelors degree, and graduated from their Professional Training Module in 2012. I taught for them for a while and have always remained friends with many of the wonderful people I met there, in particular its president and founder, Ena Stanley.
I sent Ena a copy of my latest book, “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” and she liked it so much she suggested that their media specialist do an interview with me as one of the school’s many alumni. You can view the video below and learn a little about me, how astrology came into my life, and how writing has been a driving force since I was a child and the astrological reason that’s the case.
Back in 2017 as I watched the Sun disappear behind the moon from Swan Valley, Idaho, I could fully understand why such events freaked out those who didn’t understand the phenomenon. It was cool, but it was creepy. My impression was that of God hiding his light.
And here’s the interesting part.
Eclipses can have rather ominous astrological implications. The one in 2017 had a path of visibility that crossed the USA. This is NOT a good omen. It signifies a divided country. It doesn’t take a genius to see how that has turned out.
And guess what?
In 2024 there’s another one that likewise crosses the country.
The paths of the 2017 and 2024 eclipse paths cross in the southern part of Illinois, right over Carbondale. Considering that’s right in the heart of the New Madrid fault, plus the fracking they’re doing in the area, doesn’t sound like a good place to be.
Right after the 2017 eclipse there was an earthquake in Idaho. Tidal forces of the moon plus the sun when the two are aligned is pretty strong. I’m not saying something bad will happen, but it’s something to think about.
There’s another one coming in 2023 that’s annular as opposed to total, so it gets less publicity. Its path crosses Texas and is joined by that of the total eclipse in 2024 to form an “X” across Texas.
What does crossing something out signify to you? If you believe in “signs in the heavens and on the earth beneath” this should be rather alarming.
As an astrologer as well as a Christian, I don’t like the looks of this at all. The “X” on Texas is becoming too apparent. Pardon me while I depart from my usual “neutral stance” for a moment. Texas a “Red” state in the crosshairs of the liberals, who spent a lot of money trying to flip Texas “Blue” the last election. They failed at that, so now we’re being hit with a massive influx of illegal aliens and HR1, which will allow them to vote. If that’s not a massive effort to divide the Lone Star State, I don’t know what is.
So enough of the doom and gloom. If you want to see the next one, here are a few tips.
PLAN NOW TO VIEW THE NEXT ECLIPSE
The April 8, 2024 total eclipse is literally going to pass right over where I live in Central Texas. The good news is that I don’t have to go anywhere to see it! I’ve been thinking I should write a small book about eclipses, both from an astronomical and astrological angle, to sell, since the area will be deluged with people looking for souvenirs. If I get this accomplished as planned, I’ll let you know here sometime before the big event.
One matter of concern is that especially at that time of year it could be cloudy! I know any number of people who drove miles to see the last one only for it to be cloudy or rainy. Huge disappointment, to be sure. Thus, if you’re deciding to go view one, consider weather patterns for optimal chances of clear skies.
Another consideration is to head to a remote area. That way you avoid huge traffic jams on the Interstate or other major highways. If you’re planning to go see the next one, bear that in mind. That is unless you enjoy massive crowds and gridlocked freeways. Don’t underestimate how many people have the same idea.
I learned that lesson when I lived in Houston where a coworker told me how he and his family spent a hurricane in their car on the freeway. They waited too long to leave during the evacuation and got stuck on I-45 in the mass exodus. Everyone assumes the freeway is the quickest route, but that’s not the case when everyone has the same idea. In such situations, back roads and your GPS app are your best friend. Make your reservations for accommodations as far in advance as possible, too.
The website greatamericaneclipse.com is an excellent resource for detailed maps of the path as well as safety viewing equipment and other paraphernalia. Remember, the only time it’s safe to view an eclipse without protective eye gear is the few moments of totality!
Regardless of their symbolism, eclipses are rare and worth seeing in person. People often react to in an unexpected way. Be sure to take a few moments to consider what it’s saying to you.
This book won a Pulitzer Prize and I can understand why. It was a massive work of over 600 pages that literally took me months to read. The research is amazing and so is the theme. Most themes involve man versus something: man vs. man; man vs. himself; man vs. nature, etc. In this case it’s man siding with nature and trying to save the environment from exploitation.
I heard years ago that a moral dilemma always makes a gripping story. If nothing else, they’re thought provoking. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Is there really a difference? Or are both wrong in some way?
This story features a handful of unique individuals from diverse backgrounds whose experiences drive them to try and save the trees. Not just any trees, but primarily those massive giants like the redwoods which have stood their ground longer than civilization itself. Science has learned that trees, even those in the typical forest, communicate with each other. Some of us talk to our plants. I have five live oaks in my yard that I named. I had a bald cypress when I lived in Houston that I also named. I wrote a science fiction story about a telepathic walking plant, so I guess I fall out on the side of the people in the book. Of course their protests were directed toward big lumber companies and the like. To date, I have not gone that far.
Another character in the book was an individual who’d become crippled when he fell from a tree. His response was to become an IT guru creating gaming software that ultimately covered the earth, kind of like the old game SimCity on steroids. In other words, creating worlds while ignoring the one they live in.
The dilemma lies in the question how can our supposed civilization expand and prosper without exploiting the environment? Indigenous people are the only ones who “get it.” They understand that they’re an integral part of nature and honor it, giving thanks for those things they need to survive. Their attitude is more like being partners with the Earth as opposed to its conquerors.
More irony lies in the concept of using “renewable” resources. A tree that is a thousand years old is not exactly “renewable,” at least in our lifetime. They are no more “renewable” than fossil fuel and actually provide far more benefits, such as cleansing the air and providing oxygen. Have you ever seen one of these giants, or even a mighty oak, and wondered what it might say if it could talk?
This book is worth reading as it takes you into a world you have most likely never seen before. Sometimes it gets off in that realm where your unconscious probably understands it while your conscious mind doesn’t. It would have been helpful to me if the author had included a dramatis personae, since there were so many characters. There were only about three I could keep straight, while the other ones tended to blend together, especially the way the author skipped around. The ending almost felt as if Powers simply quit without really tying it all together. Yet that was probably deliberate to let each reader draw their own conclusions. I suppose I should issue a spoiler alert when I state the conclusion wasn’t in the “happily ever after” category. Frankly, if I were the story’s editor, there’s quite a bit I would have cut out.
All that aside, it’s an amazing work that will allow you to see the world around you through different eyes. You’ll probably appreciate nature a lot more, maybe even start talking to your plants. But it’s unlikely you’ll have any answers, either.
I am fortunate to live in a rural area where night skies aren’t sullied by city lights. I’ve always loved astronomy and found stargazing inspiring. This crazy, obnoxious year has been stressful for everyone, myself included, though I have to admit I’ve been far less affected than others. Nonetheless, the background noise of a upended world has once again motivated me to spend some time with the night sky.
Of course when we see something inspiring, we want to preserve it. I quickly found my cell
phone couldn’t capture what I was seeing in the sky, at least a closer view. So I decided to buy an actual camera. It’s been great fun, especially taking pictures of the Moon, like the one above.
I was somewhat disappointed in the pictures I attempted of the planets, which came out looking like a powder puff as opposed to the familiar pictures we have courtesy of passing space missions. For example, the above picture is Mars. At least you can tell it’s a planet, not a star, and it’s the right color, but other than that, not too impressive.
Here’s Mars again, this time with the Moon. The halo reveals that there was a lot of humidity that night.
On December 21 Jupiter and Saturn will be in a very tight conjunction, tighter than they’ve been in 800 years! There are some speculations that such a conjunction was what comprised the Star of Bethlehem and guided the Wise Men to the Christ Child.
Unless you know a little about astronomy or astrology, you may wonder why this is the case. After all, it takes Jupiter about 12 years to orbit the Sun and Saturn about 29, so Jupiter will pass Saturn at least every 12 years or so, right? The plane of their respective orbits, however, is not the same, so while they may appear in the same latitude, their declination is seldom close enough for them to appear as one bright celestial object. How fascinating that in this rather unpleasant year of 2020 we can see this unusual treat in the night sky.
Here’s a picture of the Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon.
Attempting a closer view of Saturn and Jupiter as they converge has resulted in another powder puff, but of a slightly different hue than Mars, with Saturn nearly invisible. Clearly to get the photos I really want is going to require a telescope. I was pretty proud of those Moon shots and checked out some of the astro-photography Facebook groups. Talk about humbling! Some of the pix out there look as good as what we’ve seen from the Hubble! A telescope has been on my bucket list for a while and even more-so now.
This picture of the Halloween Full Moon is one of my favorites.
And here’s a comparison of how much the Full Moon changes in one day.
I was blessed this autumn with a beautiful color display from my crepe myrtle, which is especially appreciated here in Central Texas where autumn tends to be shades of green and brown as opposed to the spectacular fall colors found in more temperate zones.
I know this post isn’t particularly profound. What I’ve derived from these photos defies words, which for an author of 6 novels and an book on astrology says something in itself.
Perhaps the message I’m trying to convey is that even in a year that gave us a glimpse of the Underworld, there is beauty to be found in both the heavens and here upon our own planetary home. We can always hope that the Star of Bethlehem replay on 21 December is telling us there are better times ahead.
Nothing gets my endorphins pumping like the creative process. Writing novels is my first passion, but when they’re finally published I find it tremendous fun to put together memes and a short video to get the word out to potential readers. It’s a considerable challenge to compress an entire novel into a two or three minute video. Doing so forces me to distill its essence into something that others can relate to and hopefully tickle their curiosity enough to want to read the book. Here’s my latest for “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”
So what did you think? Curious? Assuming the video achieved its objective, here are links where you can pick up a copy of your own in either electronic or paperback format.
How often have you heard you should live in the moment? What does that mean to you? Does it mean concentrating on your current project? Setting goals for the future? Pondering the lessons from the past? Clearly if any of those are your answer, you’ve missed the point.
The moment is NOW, this very instant.
Whether you’re working on a pet project or binge-watching Netflix, chances are you’re not really in tune to what’s really going on around you.
Maybe what comes to mind is “situational awareness.” Especially those who’ve been in the military or law enforcement. Maintaining that can mean survival. Watching your back.
No, that’s not it, either.
This is a deeper type of awareness. Where you realize you’re part of a larger whole. Something many cultures recognize as reality. Something of which I became more aware in researching my latest book, “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits,” for which I studied Native American beliefs.
It’s called animism. That everything is “animated,” albeit alive, and has a soul. People. Animals. Plants. Minerals. Earth herself. The entire cosmos. All connected. Much of that comes to bear in my story through Charlie Littlewolf, the main character, as he perceives messages from trees, birds, even roadkills.
Spirit animals have been more popular lately. In most cases, this is when a person feels connected with a specific animal. A bear. A cougar. An eagle. A fox. This is usually based on characteristics that animal displays to which you can relate. Fetishes can deliver a similar lesson. (More about them here.)
Another way of being in tune, however, is to take the time to absorb the world around you, most effectively, outdoors. What animals do you see? Even if you live in the city, there are usually plenty of birds. There’s a flock of sparrows at your bird feeder along with a single cardinal. What is that telling you? You look up and see an eagle, better yet, a pair, flying over your house. What does that mean?
If for whatever reason you’re stuck indoors, there are still messages to behold. The antique clock. Your favorite cooking vessel. Your cat sleeping in a sun puddle. If they could talk, what would they say?
Looking for answers? Pay better attention. Chances are they’re all around you, just waiting for you to listen.
I have a semi-feral cat who was born in my garage in 2013. Her mother and siblings disappeared years ago, but Taurie hung around. She lets me pet her and I suspect she would love to come inside. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would work very well with my two indoor cats.
When I see her out on the deck, which isn’t always on a set schedule, I go out and give her something to eat. The other day we had heavy rain that dissipated right around sunset. There she was, so I went out with some food. I noticed a neighbor looking up at the sky and holding her cell phone as if taking a picture. I looked up. And there was this spectacular double rainbow. Something I would have missed had I not gone out to feed my feral cat. I raced back inside to get my phone.
The next day, close to midnight, as I was about to retire for the night, I noticed the motion-sensor activated light on the deck was on. Was it Taurie? Or wildlife? Grey foxes, raccoons, possums, and skunks show up out there all the time. It was Taurie. Again, I grabbed a can of cat food and went outside.
This time I was greeted by the waning Moon, Mars right beside her in all his red glory. Again, I got my phone, though I knew it wouldn’t do it justice (and certainly doesn’t show up here). But there was something magical about it I wanted to preserve, however I could.
Later that night, in the early hours, I woke up. I looked outside to see if it was getting light. It wasn’t. Rather than the light of dawn, there was Venus staring at me in her celestial brilliance. You know, that show she puts on when people report her as a UFO. No picture this time, but I did go into the kitchen to check the time. 5:47 a.m.
The fact I’d had three beautiful sights in the sky grab my attention in as many days had to mean something. Fortunately, I’m an astrologer. I had the time for each event, the first two courtesy of the metadata of the photos. What I discovered was amazing. It brought wondrous insights for situations I’m currently wrestling with along with a sense of peace. As if the heavens were speaking to me. Even without the astrological interpretations, they already had.
Seeing yourself as a child of the cosmos may sound like a bunch of woo-woo stuff useful only to mystics, gurus, and retired old ladies who have nothing better to do.
On the other hand, maybe there isn’t anything better to do than pay attention to things around you and listen for what they may be trying to say.
Government corruption ignites a 19th century Cheyenne curse….
In 1879 a drunken hoard of silver miners raided a Cheyenne village while the tribe’s warriors hunted buffalo. A small band of young braves, not yet old enough to join the hunt, escaped and rode for help. Their efforts failed when they were discovered by the raiders, who ran them over a cliff along with all the tribe’s horses that had been left behind.
When the warriors returned and found the devastation, the tribe’s medicine man, Black Cloud, placed a curse on the site.
A century and a half later, a scandalous Top Secret project is under construction in the same Colorado wilderness. Bryan Reynolds discovers that its roots lie in the same greed, corruption, and exploitation of the Earth that precipitated the curse. But before he can expose what he’s found, he’s killed in a suspicious accident that his wife, Sara, miraculously survives. Her memory of where they were or what they’d discovered, however, is gone.
Neither Sara nor Bryan’s life-long Cheyenne friend, Charlie Littlewolf, will rest until they find out what Bryan discovered that resulted in his death.
Charlie is acutely aware that the only way to solve the mystery is through connecting with the grandfather spirits. To do so he must return to his roots and the teachings of his medicine man grandfather, Eaglefeathers. His journey back to the Cheyenne way includes ancient rituals and ceremonies that guide him and Sara to the answers they seek.
As a descendant of Black Cloud, his destiny is deeply embedded in the fulfillment of the original curse, which was triggered by the scandalous government project Bryan discovered and his subsequent death. Charlie’s quest has only just begun.
It took me far longer to write this story than I ever imagined. Believe it or not, my original intent was to write a cozy mystery which I planned to finish in a few weeks. Once I got into it, however, and started doing some research (my fatal flaw as a write), it morphed into a not-so-cozy murder mystery with a sharp conspiratorial edge. It took nearly two years from when it was conceived to releasing volume 1 of a trilogy.
Part of the delay was when I decided I needed a Native American to give my work a sanity check. I didn’t want it to be inaccurate or offensive. I did a lot of research, but recognized that is often insufficient. Through a rather serendipitous chain of events I found Pete Risingsun, a Cheyenne who lives on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. It didn’t take long for Pete to connect with the story to such a degree that he became the story’s coauthor. The Cheyenne portions of this story are accurate. You can read Pete’s biography as well as mine on the book’s website here.
A government conspiracy lies at the core, though this first volume concentrates on Sara and Charlie discovering what Bryan knew that got him killed. It’s character driven like my other novels with them riding a freight train of research that captured me in their iron grip. Every time I turned around I discovered something else that fit the story and situation too closely to ignore.
Modern man’s colonialism coupled with a blatant disregard for the environment conflicts with Native American philosophies of animism and the necessity to honor the Earth. These ideologies have clashed for centuries. Informed individuals already know about the downside of fracking. Past pollution caused by 19th century mining and the EPA Superfunds charged with cleaning them up, however, are not as well-known. Put them together and there’s a subplot just waiting to hatch.
Various paranormal and supernatural elements including detailed descriptions of Cheyenne rituals and ceremonies are included. You’ll learn about the sacred red pipe, ceremonial fasting, and the sweat lodge. The Cheyenne’s name for the Great Spirit is Maheo, who is referred to throughout. There are numerous other-worldly situations included. While the story is fictitious, these depictions are authentic.
Modern technology plays a significant role in juxtaposition to traditional Native American elements. Astronomy and the ancient art and science of western astrology play roles as well in helping Sara and Charlie find the answers they need.
These complexities are what expanded this story into a trilogy. Charlie’s journey back to his roots and the consequences Sara pays for fulfilling Bryan’s dying request play out in the next two volumes. They are already drafted and awaiting collaboration with Pete and then the usual rounds of editing. Native American history is touched upon, but will be covered in greater detail in subsequent volumes.
I hope you’ll join me in this incredible journey and enjoy it as much as I have putting it together with the assistance of my awesome coauthor.
Pick up an electronic copy on Amazon or Google Play until July 31, 2020 for only 99c!
More vendors are on the way. The print version will be out in about a month. COVID19 has slowed down the conventional indie publishing process to glacial speed, but it is on the way.
Check out the series website for more information about the sequels and an excerpt from this one.
“Now cracks a noble heart. —Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
–Horatio in “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
I’ve had a cat in my life since the day I was born. The one I grew up with, Snopsie, was a member of the family before I was. As I was growing up I often suspected that my parents loved that cat more than they did me. Now that I’m a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, I know with absolute certainty that such was true. Studies have shown that people have more empathy for animals than they do for other humans. I believe it. More often than not, I am one of them.
Of course the status a pet carries in a household varies significantly. Sometimes they’re a pet and sometimes they’re a fur-baby. The years when I was raising a family and had a houseful of kids, the cats were pets. I cared about them, enjoyed having them sit on my lap, and did the best I could to take care of them, but they didn’t own my heart. Once I retired, however, and the kids were gone, it was another story.
I adopted Hamlet and Ophelia in December 2006 as a Christmas/Birthday present to myself. I’d heard that Bengals were unique, lively, and entertaining and were supposed to live as long as twenty years. One eighth of their genetic material is Asian Leopard, which accounts for their distinct markings and strong personalities. They’re intelligent, curious, agile, and adventurous which, as expected, leads to lots of mischief. Over the years, property damage and veterinarian bills have amounted to literally thousands of dollars, mostly credited to Ophelia.
Mine was not their first home. Originally a young couple who lived in an apartment with a preschool age son and a baby were the ones who adopted them from a cattery. It didn’t take long to realize that that was not the ideal environment for these active felines. Luckily for me, they realized this about the time I decided to get a cat.
My daughter sent me a picture of these two from her company newsletter, mentioning how adorable they were. I immediately recognized them as Bengals and knew they were supposed to be mine. They were half-siblings sharing the same father but different mothers and born a day apart at a local cattery. Soon they were racing up and down the stairs of my Houston townhome, sitting on top of cabinets and bookcases, and scrutinizing the potential meals lurking in the fish tanks.
When I retired in October 2009 we all moved to my lake house. It was half the size with no stairs. They were clearly bored, but we all made the best of it. There was one high perch that became Hamlet’s favorite, though he also liked the top of the refrigerator or the pie safe. I’m sure they would have loved to go outside, but they’d always been indoor cats and I worried about them in the rural environment. Hammie actually got outside one time, but freaked out almost as much as I did.
I never thought he would leave so soon. Ophelia was the one who nearly died a couple times, usually from eating something she shouldn’t, like a leather shoe lace and a hair tie, the latter of which required surgery. He was supposed to live to a ripe old age as an indoor cat, then gradually fade away and die a peaceful death. Instead, in what should have still been his prime, he slipped away within a relatively short time. He’d been losing weight, which wasn’t unheard of for a fourteen year-old cat. It seemed to get worse about the time the COVID-19 pandemic locked everything down.
When I finally got him to the vet, the procedures were far different. Instead of going inside the examining room with your pet, you waited in your car.
An assistant came to get him and deliver him inside, then the vet would talk to you on the phone. Hamlet hadn’t been to the vet very much and hated the car. Then we sat there for over an hour in the hot afternoon sun before they took him inside. Upon talking to the vet, I decided to leave him there overnight for them to gather the samples they needed to make a diagnosis.
In the morning he was frantic, his wild blood turning him into a snarling, spitting, angry kitty who undoubtedly felt horribly abandoned. I took him home. The next day or so I noticed that his pupils were not the same size. I called the vet, took him in again. He had a detached retina, which could be caused by high blood pressure or a blow to the head. Which I later deduced occurred when he’d been left there overnight and gotten so upset. He got through that exam better, but the tests weren’t conclusive. The doctor suspected cancer, but his symptoms fit kidney failure or possibly pancreatitis.
Different sized pupils = detached retina
I took him home and watched day after day as he sat in the sunroom, staring out the window. No doubt he was now half blind, which broke my heart. For a while he still ate and drank and used the litter box. In the evening he would usually come into the living room and sit on the couch with me, his sister, and step-sister. If he didn’t join us, I would go get him.
The usual evening couch configuration.
His sister and step-sister knew something was wrong.
He continued to fail, losing weight and strength such that he was very wobbly on his feet. Before long he no longer had any interest in looking out the window. He sat on a cushion in my office, half asleep. He’d drink water, but was unable to get into the litter box. When he wet, he would move away from the puddle. I knew it was time, but it was 4th of July weekend. I couldn’t take him in to be put out of his misery until Monday.
I agonized at the thought of taking him in. He hated the car and would yowl the entire 20 miles. Whether I could be with him was in question due to the COVID-19 procedures. He might even die on the way from fear, given his weakened state. Not exactly a peaceful, humane demise.
Fortunately that drive wasn’t necessary. He passed away Sunday night around ten o’clock on the couch beside me where he’d spent every evening for the past ten years. Ophelia watched, instincts telling her what was happening. It was heartbreaking and intense but only took a few minutes and he was gone. At least it had been in a safe, familiar place with me doing all I could to comfort him.
I called my wonderful neighbor, Heike, who’s a fellow cat lover. She came over to help me wrap him in a blanket. We laid him on the futon in the sunroom where he’d always loved to sleep until the next morning when we would dig a grave to bury him. In the morning when I got up and checked on him I found his sister sleeping next to him for the last time. Talk about a tearjerker. But she knew he was gone. If I’d taken him to the vet she never would have known or understood in the same way. One of Heike’s cats typically shunned her for a while after making that dreaded trip to the vet, apparently blaming her for the feline family member who never returned.
Heike and I, two women in our 70s, dug a hole in the rocky, Central Texas ground and laid him to rest by my shed in the shade of one of my oak trees. I’m still deciding what to plant on his grave. The rocks you see around it all came out of the hole itself. We got as deep as we could until the rocks were too big to remove. In the next few days I’ll make it prettier and a decent memorial to an awesome cat.
The house feels so empty. Up until the past few months his presence was always known. He was very vocal and his climbing antics legendary. I’m so glad I took so many pictures over the years. Like they say, photos may not seem important until they are all you have left. Ophie has been in my lap much more than usual. Hammie was never much of a lap sitter. Actually, he was too big to get comfortable. If I had a blanket on my lap he would get under it and become the “undercover cat.”
One thing that touched me deeply was the response I received on Facebook. The post of his death got 152 likes and 96 comments and the post of Ophie beside his blanket-wrapped body got 59 likes and 124 comments. I’ve never had a response like that to anything before. Pet owners share an important bond, that of loving our fur babies like family. Their compassion and support meant so much, even though most of them are otherwise strangers.
In closing this memorial to my sweet Hamlet, here are some parody lyrics dedicated to all pet lovers for those difficult times when you say goodbye. Sing it to the tune of “All the Girls I Loved Before”, either the Julio Iglesias or Willy Nelson version, your choice.
To all the cats I’ve loved before
Who traveled in and out my door
I’m so glad they came along
To them I dedicate this song
To all the cats I’ve loved before
To all the cats who shared my bed
And never did a thing I said
I love and miss you, oh, so much
And miss your fur beneath my touch
The Rainbow Bridge you may have crossed
But in my heart you’re never lost
Your sweet spirit lingers on
And will never be completely gone.
March 17, 2006 – July 5, 2020
“Now cracks a noble heart. —Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
–Horatio in “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
Due to the brutal heat of a Texas summer, it took me a while to fix up Hamlet’s grave site, which didn’t happen until a cool day on 25 October. Here is the result. I still miss him very much and I know Ophelia does, too. Often she stares at places where he loved to hang out as if wondering where he went. He will always be remembered.