Charlene was my Tuxedo feral cat. We found her with her mother and the rest of the litter on our lawn chair one morning. There were five of them: Charlie (later to become Charlene when we discovered she was a female) Mooshmouth (later named Nicki), Catty, Frisky and Tiger. We took them in right away knowing that they would be easy prey for the wild animals in our area (we later learned another mother gave birth to a similar litter but only one of them survived) We place our kittens in a box and help the mother to care for them. There were a few close calls but all of them opened their eyes and started to explore our house. Anything and everything was open game from them. They were quite a handful and cost us a lot of money (We had to get them spayed/neutered, plus all the vaccination, etc.) and took a lot of our free time but it was worth it. This was perhaps the happiest time of my life. Out of the group Charlene stood out the most, her marking made her look like she had a mustache like Charlie Chaplin.
As time went on the kittens grew up, they even out grew the need of their mother (even though they were almost as big as her she still tried to drag the around by the scruff of the neck as if they were tiny kittens) We had agreed that we would not keep any of them but would find them good homes. But when it came time to part, we couldn't part with all of them. We decided, with tears in our eyes, to keep Charlene and Nicki (we felt because of their color schemes they were the least likely to be adopted) I'm happy to say that the other three all found great homes with loving owners. So we all settled down to live a long and happy life together with our two new cats.
Alas, that was not the case for Charlene. I won't go into gruesome details but a dog got a hold of her. Somehow, even though she was terribly mangled up and partially paralyzed she managed to crawl home to be with us. Because of her injuries we were forced to put her to sleep. I was there with her till the end when she died in my arms. One word of advice if you ever have to have to go through this horrible ordeal do this: The first shot they give them is to knock them out unconscious but they don't close their eyes, they just zone out. Before they get the lethal second shot have the vet close their eyes because after they are gone holding your dead pet while she stares back at you is something no one should ever have to bear. After it was over we took our baby home and buried her in the back yard next to my other deceased dogs. She loved dogs, unfortunately too much.
The day that we had to say goodbye to our beloved pet it was raining. Many would find this depressing but not me. Charlene loved to play with water, I knew she would have loved this day. That was one of the things that made me love her. She was always surprising me and teaching me. Before she came into our hearts we were not cat people, not even close. But our dear pet showed us not to judge living things by their looks but by what is in their heart. Charlene had a very big heart. She taught us that cats do not hate water; some of them in fact love it. I remember how we would turn on the faucet in the sink ever so slowly and she would play with the drips. She loved water so much she would sleep in the bathroom sink or sometimes in the tub. One night it was pouring rain and she stayed out for hour enjoying it.
Another thing I loved about her was she would always keep tabs on me weather it was day or night, to make sure I was near by. I could swear that had the spirit of my dog Bear in her, this is exactly what he would do. She loved to sit in my lap and play with my keyboard when I tried to work. It was her way of saying "Hey, this is play time! Work can wait!" Like most cats, she slept a lot. She would sprawl out and once she was sleeping nothing could wake her. She also loved being dragged around our tile floor on a throw rug, swatting and biting on it. If she wanted to come into a room that I was in and the door was closed she would stick her paw under the door and move it around as if to wave at me, but she would never scratch the door. But what I most remember about her is her purr, it was easy to tell her apart from Nicki. Charlene's purr was that like a lion (it was so loud you could hear it from the other room) She was always a happy cat that loved climb, sometimes she would climb on the back of my chair and check me out. Some other things she likes to do were to roll across the floor in an empty trashcan. When it was time for a nap she would come and find my lap, I didn't mind. Oddly enough she loved to ride in the car, looking out the window seeing what the world had to go and offer. If I had to pick up something quick she would wait in the car but like a dog she would look out the window for us waiting for our return. But most of all, she found more joy in playing in a cardboard box than playing with the most expensive toy.
Charlene gave us so much love and taught us so much but especially that it isn't money or possessions are not what is important, but it is love what you should make the center of your life. Though she is gone and I miss her so much (I'm crying as I type this) I do not hate dogs for doing this nor do I hate God for taking her so soon. In fact, I thank Him for it. She doesn't have to feel pain and heartache ever again. Right now in my grief I would not trade all the money in the world to forget her and not have to go through all this pain and agony. Remembering Charlene and what she taught me is greater than the pain my heart feels right now. The pain will pass over time (but I know it will never totally leave me) but the memory or her will never leave me, I refuse to let that happen. I will cherish this the rest of my life.
But what really excites me is I will see her again! How do I know this? I was blessed with a vision! I witnessed her awaking from her death sleep renewed. All the damage and paralysis the dog had done was gone and now her fur was white like an angel. Even though she looked different I knew it was she, she was licking off the moisture from the rain when we buried her. Plus I heard that distinctive purr, the one that sounded like a jet engine. Even if I didn't notice these things I knew it was she, God was telling me she would make it to Heaven. He blessed me with a warm and calming feeling, everything would be all right. For the first time I could actually think about Charlene with out crying, my tears were replaced by a smile. The vision ended with her scampering off towards a bright light. I feel he was trying to tell me you have another cat, take the lessons that you have learned and apply it to you and your life. Fill both with unquestionable love. We will be doing this three fold since we have decided to get another cat. With Charlene's departure she will give another condemned kitty (we will get one from the shelter) a chance to live and be loved! He also told me at the end of time we will be together again, along with my family and all my departed pets. Even Nicki will be there. And then, in the presents of God, nothing will be able to tear us apart. We will climb, swimming and even sleep together. There will be no more pain and suffering, just love and joy for all eternity. I can't wait for that day!