Nowadays my blog is filled with me talking about ghosts and stuff, and it’s probably easy for people to forget that I have a life outside of work, psychical research and religion. This post is about the street where I live, Normal Terrace, and the most important residents – the rulers in fact of our lane, the cats.
This morning my neighbour Chris called to tell me the sad but not unexpected news that Ziggy, aged 17, a lovely black and white puss had finally died. He had been ill for months, and in sharp decline the last few days, but so often had he recovered from the point where all seemed lost that his passing still came as a shock to me. In some senses I think it was a relief to us all – poor old boy, none of us wanted him to suffer, but the death of a beloved member of the community always hits home.
Ziggy lived seventeen happy years, with his sister Zag and the elegant Suki. Chris loves them all so much, and serves their imperious demands with a devotion many a cat owner will understand. I know we don’t have favourites, but in a sense Ziggy was her favourite.
My acquaintance with Ziggy began when I moved in to the street, maybe four years ago now. He and Zag were not the friendliest of cats – unlike the white lady who basks at the bottom of the street, or the beautiful but highly strung black fluffball Tina owns, Zig and Zag always kept thre distance. Attempts to pet them were rebuffed — and my cats never achieved more than a nodding relationship with those two. I really thought they were unfriendly, aloof little kitties, but I was always pleased to see them basking in the sun outside Chris’ house.
Then came that terrible day 18 months ago, when after a frantic struggle to save him, and a trip to Swindon it still hurts to think of, we lost Lisa’s beloved cat Marmalade. Some of you know the vents that followed, and how we have another fluffball now called Marmalade, but we will pass over that – the important thing is that among all the condolences, and the incredibly kind efforts of David Curtin who drove us on that last terrible journey, and brought us back in tears, the support from Tina, Lynn and all our friends in the street – well that was the day I cam to know Ziggy.
I was sitting on my doorstep, crying my eyes out. I rarely cry; I had not cried since 1992 until that day, but the dashing of our hopes just when we thought we had saved him had left me distraught. The sight of a grown man crying on his doorstep is not one many people care for, and I was therefore surprised when I felt a nudge. It was Ziggy – he came, climbed on to my lap, and nuzzled my nose. For the first time, and I had sat in the doorstep many times before while he regarded me warily, he had approached me, and now he purred and rubbed himself against me. I don[t know if he understood I was distressed or not, but I do recall the comfort he brought me. There were other cats, and always would be – Marmalade had gone, but all over the world new kittens were being born, who would live, play, hunt and wail as kitties everywhere do.
Ziggy and I became friends from that day onwards. I came to regard him as a good friend, and as Chris was unwell and I came to pop round more and more, for our little trips to the shops or afternoon chats, I came to befriend Zag and Suki as well, and when they were ill, I took them to the vets for Chris when they needed attention. Stephen Crickmore of Albion Lodge (by the Tesco on the edge of forever) is a wonderful, compassionate and highly skilled vet – and he always did Ziggy proud. Chris nursed him, with special diets, endless love and affection, and cared fro him as i cared for my beloved Crowley who left me on a dark December morning last year. I know the sting of loss – but also I know that there is comfort in friends, in the happy memories, and in the moggies who remain and make their demands of us. Zig will be yowling for his supper in a better place now, but it’s hard to imagine a better home than that Chris gave him – his Paradise must look alot like that little house in Normal Terrace!
One day in February I was convinced our journey together, Ziggy and I. would be our last. I walked to Stephen with heavy heart – I did not so much lift Ziggy in to the box as pour him in to it, and he had not eaten for days. I was trembling as I walked down the road, and yet as I approached I heard a loud indignant yowl and the old boy sprang up, and started purring. Stephen gave him some shots, and he was able to live another happy six months. Yet Stephen knew his days were numbered, and we all knew one day he would move on, leaving us to go play with the other kitties who have gone before.
That day has finally come, and I recieved the call from Chris this morning. I cried — I’m sad and sentimental at the moment anyway– but I have a happy thought. Yesterday the sun beat down on Normal Terrace, and Ziggy went outside, walked over to the fence, up and down a bit, and then lay down on his favourite spot. Last night he sat on Chirs’ lap till minutes before the end when he leapt down, lay down in front of the fire where he often basked, and went to sleep one last time.
Tonight we are taking him to Gareth’s to bury him, and pay our last respects. I’m hoping to be strong for Chris’ sake: I know how good it was to have Kevin Sides there for me when Crowley died, and am still thankful to Malcolm for his help that day. So I’m crying, but not for Ziggy – I’m crying for us — for Zag and Suki, for Chris, and for all of his friends he las left behind – but I’m not crying for Ziggy. He lived a wonderful life, and died content and peacefully at a great age, surrounded by those who love him.
I just hope, when the times comes, we can all manage to be as lucky as Ziggy. Till we meet again Ziggy, love