On Ash Wednesday I lost my beloved office buddy, Agrippa. I can’t believe he’s gone. He greeted me that morning with his sweet little hello sound, ate a wee bit of tuna while purring, purred some more as I rubbed his ears, then rested his head on one of his favorite toys. He’d had at least one heart attack in December, and the previous weekend he’d lost the use of his hind legs–probably threw a clot.
In the early days, before flat screens, he slept atop my monitor, reveling in the warmth. I welcomed his companionship. Every now and then his bushy sable tail would drape down over the screen and I’d gently drape it back up. Occasionally he’d roll over in his sleep and fall down on the keyboard. Yes, he killed a few keyboards, but I was always more worried about him. And then came the day when I gave in to the flat screen–he’d gained weight and his falls were more frequent, so it seemed a good thing. Of course he hated it, searching my desk for what was no longer there. To compensate (and keep him near) I bought him a large, heated bed that sat under my desk. He resisted it for a while. I’d find him on my desk chair in the morning and negotiate. But at last, the past few years, he spent most of the day snoozing at my feet.
I adopted Agrippa while I was writing The Riddle of St Leonard’s. He appeared in one Owen Archer, The Guilt of Innocents, and one Maggie Kerr, A Trust Betrayed, neither major roles, but he lives on in those books. Unlike my other cats whose names didn’t seem appropriate to a medieval household, I used his. (Melisende was Bones, Crowder was Puck.)
In his last illness I watched how patiently he dealt with his weakness. He’d take breaks on his way down the hall to his food, clean a paw, then, when ready, he’d continue. On good days he stepped outside on the deck, enjoying the air; when too weak he’d ask for the door to be opened so he could sit inside letting the breeze ruffle his fur. He appreciated it all.
I am grateful he shared his life with me. I’ll remember him each morning when I sit down at this desk, and in gentle breezes.