By Ron Gawel
There is no love quite like the love that exists between that of a man and his cats. They are agreeable friends and perfect comrades---they ask no questions. They pass no criticisms. They love you no matter what. My wife Eileen and I have five cats, each unique, mysterious, humble, exotic and lovable which we thought nothing of initiating into our home at different times as members of our immediate family. They are all rescue animals. So we have five other alter egos in the house with us with their own particular likes and dislikes who have created their own private marvelous worlds. They are always there---silently, lovingly, understanding and offering great solace and support during a particular time of crisis or loss. They are all hugely a part of our lives.
One hot summer day in June of 2013, we were about to undergo a wonderful but later traumatic and sad change. She came into our lives unexpectedly and would exit them quite the same way. I can hear the frightened, shrill cry, that piteous meowing of the tiny creature even now. Her name would become Elizabeth, oftentimes to be lovingly called Lizzy Bee and she was a big and bold, and stunningly beautiful Maine coon cat that I first came upon as a tiny kitten, lost and aimlessly roaming, unaware of the danger in the Walmart parking lot after I spotted her jumping out of the back of a pick up truck with North Dakota plates. I summoned the owner of the truck. They had no knowledge of the baby. She was a beautiful little creature. Leonardo da Vinci once stated, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” He was so right. I took her home.
We immediately decided to keep her. She ate voraciously and grew into a gorgeous, brown, tiger-stripe cat---that Maine coon beauty I spoke of. Lizzy Bee possessed a delightful, friendly and loving disposition. She was known for becoming quite vocal when she'd come from downstairs with a “treasure” she proudly displayed to us in the form of a day old sock from the laundry pile which she did regularly. Perhaps it was the only way she knew to want to “reward” us with a sort of “trophy” for taking her in.
That July of 2015 we had purchased some new living room furniture. Before it was to arrive, I secured all six of our pets within a safe place in the house. Having no children, all our beloved cats were lovingly considered our family and our one dreaded fear all the time has been of losing one, that one of our furry little mystic wonders would get loose and wander off without a trace to parts unknown. It Happened!! This huge fear that had consumed us, immobilized us every waking day, became a harsh reality of a living nightmare when it got to be dinner time and Elizabeth was nowhere about. We just knew she was gone. To this day, two and a half years later, our hearts secretly continue to ache at the thought of her being “out there” in the elements facing an unfamiliar world. We are devastated at that thought because all of our cats are strictly indoor felines. Maybe she met with a tragic demise. We don't know!
Our only hope can now be that our Elizabeth was found and given a loving home somewhere and that as I continue to think of her, it would be of her seated in the window of that warm environment, surrounded by potted plants and clean sheer curtains on any given sun shiny afternoon, basking in the sun she loved so much. I even wonder sometimes what name she might be going by. Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” A lost love can be a interminable lasting grief that agonizingly forever hangs on day by day, week by week, year by year. It's the not knowing that tugs so hard at the heart strings when facing a no greater love lost like that of a beloved pet that's vanished...into thin air.
Ron Gawel of Niagara Falls and his wife, Eileen, believe strongly every animal is entitled to a second chance.