Summer 1981 or 1982
There's all sorts of stories I could tell. About how Jason
found his way into the cold air return and was trapped in the
furnace ductwork for a day, just a disembodied meow that seemed
to come from everywhere. Or the time he tangled with a skunk in
Wyoming and was subsequently bathed in tomato juice by me and Mom
late one night. Or how he broke his leg under completely
mysterious circumstances in Petrolia, and how he plonked about in
a cast for weeks afterwards.
I could tell you what he was like: That he loved raw liver,
and could be made to come by snapping the scissors we used to cut
it up. That he especially liked to be rubbed under his chin. That
his shedded hair (Jasonhairs) would adorn my wardrobe
for almost 20 years.
The scent of his fur. The inevitable litter box odor. The
smell of an adolescent cat marking territory. Indoors. God, that
|Petrolia, early 1983
Favourite places: On top of any hot water radiator. In the
rocking chair, on a towel. The cottage.Wherever there were people
The most vivid memories are a stupid hodgepodge of unimportant
The earliest is of him as a kitten, falling asleep on my chest
as I was lying on the couch, watching television. He rode up and
down with my breaths. I don't think I had ever been so close to a
cat in my life.
In the kitchen. He is sitting, thinking. I loose my grip on a
wet washcloth which goes skidding across the floor until it
touches his paws, and then he springs straight up into the air
with surprisingly scrutable surprise.
In the summer of 1982, I am alone in the house for a weekend.
It's 4:30 in the morning, and I'm looking out a second storey
door into a nearby park. My brain is on fire with a woman I
adored, but who did not adore me. Jason happens by. I scoop him
up and we look out at the coming dawn together. I desperately
wanted it to be a moment we could share and look back on, but
Jason wasn't interested, and after a couple of minutes, he
squirmed away. Even now I wonder if there isn't something to be
learned from his Zen-like detachment.
Jason has been around for about as long as I've been the
person you might recognize as me. His life spanned my bothersome
early teen years when I ceased to be an loose amalgam of my
parents to became someone different, and stretched into adulthood
with and all of its concomitant rites. I feel this observation
must have some profound meaning, but it eludes me. Perhaps its
just that someone will someday make the same impenetrable
observation of me once I've died, and will be just as puzzled.
|Ontario Street, Toronto, circa
In recent years, Jason suffered a number of ailments: feline
AIDS (an 8 year survivor), cataracts, hyperthyroidism, tooth
decay, arthritis, and constipation. He was on medication and put
up with frequent injections of Ringer's Lactate to keep him
hydrated. And yet he never failed to purr if you took the time to
visit and to help him up into your lap.
After he had six teeth pulled last year, he switched to a soft
food diet for the first time since he was a kitten. We moved his
food to the end of the kitchen that was closest his litter box so
he wouldn't have to walk so far, and so that he could find it in
his blindness. Unfortunately, that part of the kitchen is right
in front of the refrigerator, a high traffic zone, and if you
weren't careful, you could easily put a foot in his food dish, or
on The Old Man himself. But it was something you got used to.
When I was home last weekend, I found myself involuntarily
looking at that same patch of floor every time I used the fridge.
There's nothing to see there now, and for a while I couldn't
figure out why I was looking at the floor so much. It's probably
the same reason that made me scan the living room when I went in,
looking first at the radiator, then the empty couch. I guess it's
through loss that you discover your habits.
One of my sisters (aged 6) asked, "Where is he now?"
While I think she was referring to his body, she might also have
been asking the metaphysical question. Where do you go?
Cat heaven? No -- I don't buy that. He's on a mouse pad I had
made up last year. He's on my Mom's fridge. He's still on my
sweaters. And he will always be where he is remembered.
|The Happy Cat
South Drive, Toronto, late 1990's