THE LUCKIEST BLACK CAT
They weren’t even “cat people” until they met Blackie. They had to take her; she came with the house. She simply wouldn’t leave.
“Blackie” was our parents’ cat. She was an outside cat, faithfully returning to their step every evening after roaming the neighborhood in their small town every day. She was happy there, and they were happy to have her. Suzanne found her when she was a kitten and got her for Julia, her daughter. They lived in the same town as Mom and Dad, and soon thereafter, they moved to a house a bit further away. Blackie didn’t like their new home, and she would go to Mom and Dad’s house. Knowing she would be a perfect match for Mom and Dad, Suzanne let her stay, but Julia stayed close to her.
She was indeed perfect for them.
When Mom and Dad died, Suzanne took Blackie the four blocks to her home, fully intending to adopt her again and take good care of her just as Mom and Dad did. She did her best, but Blackie kept returning to Mom and Dad’s house. She wouldn’t stay with Suzanne, so she had no choice but to feed and water her there.
The housing market in their small town was tight at the time, and their house sold quickly. Henry and Debbie were hand-picked from above to be the new owners of Mom and Dad’s house. We couldn’t have asked for nicer people to move into the small home that our parents had lived in and enjoyed for eight years after moving to town from the farm. Henry and Debbie moved to Osborne from another town, so they didn’t know our parents.
“We’re not really cat people,” they said. But they knew that they would be entrusted to the resident cat if they bought the house, and it didn’t deter them from becoming the new owners. Not only were they the most perfect stewards for the house, but they were the most perfect adoptive owners for Blackie.
Apparently, she felt the same way. While she had been a happy outdoor cat, in short order, she became an indoor cat. No longer could Henry and Debbie say they were not “cat people.” Blackie had worked them with her charm, and now she lived inside the house. Her favorite spot, they told us, was the soft cushion on the seat of the glider rocker.
That chair had belonged to our parents.
Blackie was not your garden-variety cat. She had special powers; specifically, some form of extra-sensory cat perception.
I mentioned that Blackie typically roamed the neighborhood all day, returning to their step every evening. On the afternoon Mom and Dad died, however, the neighbors told us she spent that afternoon on their step. She knew. She was holding vigil.
Four days later, on the morning of their funeral, Gail was getting ready for the service at her mother-in-laws house. It was just across the street, across an open lot from Mom and Dad’s house. She saw Blackie in that lot, apparently holding her own memorial for her beloved owners. In that lot, there was a gathering of neighborhood cats. It appeared that they had loosely formed a half-circle around Blackie, as if she were delivering her own eulogy to honor her owners who had just passed.
Blackie surely felt lost without Mom and Dad there, but she survived, as cats do. Suzanne continued to take good care of her, and attempted a few more times to take her to back to her house, but she always made her way back to her “real” home.
Henry and Debbie became friends with our family; their kindness during our time of mourning was beyond words. They felt honored to live in the house our parents lived in, often commenting that they wished they had known them. We hate to brag, but it was something about how great their kids were, so surely the parents of these fine folks must have been outstanding people.
Unfortunately for us, they have since moved to a nearby small city for work reasons. We will always be thankful for their stewardship of Mom and Dad’s house, but especially for their friendship, as well as their tender loving care of Blackie.
I’ve heard it said that dogs often take on the personalities of their owners, but I can’t say I have heard—or seen the same—with cats. Cats seem to have their own personalities, their own agendas. Blackie, however, was always a kind, obedient and docile cat, not to mention smart. Of course, this is a direct reflection on our parents, and then Henry and Debbie.
Henry was famous for posting great stories about Blackie on Facebook. His post detailing her last day is below:
If you have spent any time with me in the last few years, you have probably heard me talk about Blackie the sweet cat. She has been with us since we moved to Osborne in 2008 and she was already several years old. We think she was 17.
Blackie’s health has been failing this summer. Thursday, Blackie was able to wander around the yard awhile, but by Friday night it was obvious it was her last day. Those of you who knew her know that she was an amazing cat.
Blackie was smart and obedient. She had a pretty good vocabulary of words she understood and would obey quite a few commands. We let her sharpen her claws anywhere she wanted on the carpet. One day she decided to use a nice rug instead. I told her NO and she never clawed that rug again. That was well over 10 years ago.
One of my favorite things to do with her was to have her hunt for treats. I would tell her “HUNT,” and give her hand signals like you might for a bird dog. She would follow the signals. When she got close I would say “LOOK,” and she would stop and carefully search the immediate area until she found the treat.
Everybody loves their pets and hurts when they are gone. Many tears in Hays tonight.
Thank you to the Ketter family for letting Blackie be a part of our lives. Thank you to the Osborne and Hays Veterinary Clinics for the care they gave Blackie (and us) through the years.
The first picture is as a kitten with Julia (Suzanne’s daughter) who has so graciously allowed us to have Blackie with us. The second photo is the last one of her drinking from the bird bath on Thursday.
I love the last photo because yes Blackie was a black cat and this is the most Black Cat photo we have of her.
Blackie as a kitten with Suzanne’s daughter Julia
Blackie’s last trip outdoors on Thursday of this week
Blackie was truly a black cat.
I’m not even a “cat person,” but I had to wipe a few tears as I copied this.
Gail, Suzanne and I mourned together by phone this weekend. Suzanne and I were consoling each other yesterday after we got the news. I had this thought already, as well as the awareness she then had, but she verbalized it first:
“It’s like the last living piece of Mom and Dad’s history is gone. Wait, I guess all seven of us are still here…”
My faith assures me that a person’s spirit lives on in the next world. Until now, I never though much about an animal’s spirit. Being farm girls, Suzanne and I recently talked about how we knew from early on that animals on the farm—whether it was livestock, or the multiple farm cats and dogs –were destined for a very temporary stay with us. It was the way of the farm world. I remember mourning several of our farm dogs when they passed. They had become family members in a sense, but life always went on. Several cats became beloved as well, but none were as special as Blackie.
I haven’t felt this moved by an animal’s passing since then. Blackie was indeed a part of our family, then she lived on as a part of Henry and Debbie’s family.
I believe her spirit lives on. It has too. She was too smart, too kind, too special for her spirit to be gone forever. I believe this with all my heart.
And I’m not even a cat person.
The luckiest black cat ever, looking out the front window of Mom and Dad’s/Henry and Debbie’s house.