If you ever visited CATALYST during the 12 years we had our office downtown on Broadway, you’ve met Spalding. He and his brother, Wilson, were our official greeters. Their names were on the masthead. They even received mail, addressed to Spalding Wilson, sports editor. I had found them both, in my neighbor Margaret’s backyard in the spring of 1995, when they were wild babies the size of tennis balls, hence their names. Wilson met an unfortunate end many years ago. Spalding became known as the Catalyst cat. And after we left that office, he became John deJong’s cat, always sleeping on his bed, always eager for the “ear noogies” that John delivered so well.
Two nights ago Spalding, suffering from diabetes and age, talked with our friend Monica Dixon, who was practicing her pet psychic skills. He said he didn’t mind leaving… as long as he didn’t have to ride in the car again. And so today, on a desk in the CATALYST office, with the aid of our beloved Dr. Nan (of Dancing Cats Vet Clinic), he joined the choir invisible.
Spalding was a cordial cat, friendly to all, and dignified even as the indignities of infirmity overcame him. His lifelong love was flowers, roses in particular. As he began to fail earlier in the day, and John held him in his arms, I remembered to fetch the one last old-fashioned red rose remaining in the garden. Even though seemingly unconscious, Spalding purred as he breathed in its fragrance.
And when Dr. Nan came, and gave him the shot, the rose lay by his head. His heart kept beating, even after the fluid entered his frail body, till we realized: What’s better than the scent of a good rose to bind one to Earth? And then he let go.
Good night, sweet Spalding. May we all be as gracious as you, in our living, loving and dying.
A version of this notebook appeared in the 9/11/14 CATALYST Weekly Reader. To sign up, go to Catalystmagazine.net; click on “Weekly Reader.”