Sammy hanging out on the kitchen counter.

Sammy hanging out on the kitchen counter.

(NOTE: I wrote this on the day I lost a very special cat on October 22, 2015. Sammy came into my life as a “foster cat” waiting for an opening at a local pet store. As a full grown cat, I felt his chances for being purchased were slim as most people are drawn to the cute little kittens that are bundles of energy.)

Here he comes, dashing across the yard to greet me. The most affectionate cat I’ve ever been blessed with.

He rises up on his hind paws and gently steadies himself against my leg. We make eye contact. I reach down to caress his chin. He purrs softly.

Later, I observe him lying by the patio door, his soft black fur soaking in the late afternoon sun. He looks so peaceful. I think to myself, “Oh, what a cat’s life!”

Sammy vying for my attention as he takes his place on my laptop.

Sammy vying for my attention as he takes his place on my laptop.

It’s now 8:30 in the evening. I settle onto the couch to relax before bed with my bride of 35 years, ready to watch TV and do some web surfing on my laptop. Oh, but Sammy saunters into the room and decides he’ll have nothing of it. He jumps onto the cushion next to me – vying for my attention. Who can resist those beautiful golden eyes as we, again, catch each other’s gaze. Off goes the laptop and on comes Sammy as he warmly curls onto my lap.

Sammy won my heart over on his first night at our home when he followed me to bed and curled up next to me. Most nights he would roll onto his side and lay his paw on my chest.

Sammy won my heart over on his first night at our home when he followed me to bed and curled up next to me. Most nights he would roll onto his side and lay his paw on my chest.

Time for bed and “Mr. Sam” faithfully follows me upstairs. I snuggle under the covers and he cuddles up next to me. He rolls onto his side and lovingly places his paw across my chest. It’s almost like a child saying, “Daddy, I love you.” I caress his head, he purrs, we both fall asleep. All is good with the world.

3:15 a.m. – My alarm clocks wakes us and we head down to the kitchen. Sammy awaits his usual treat as I grab my cereal. He heads to the patio door for his early morning check of the neighborhood. He pauses as I open the door, sniffs the cool, early morning air, and looks up at me before he cautiously heads out. Is that a wink that I see as I close the door behind him?

Then I’m off to work.

I return about 6:15 p.m. No Sammy to greet me. That’s OK; he’s probably enjoying the last of the nice autumn days before the cold, “lake effect” snows of Lake Erie arrive. He’ll be home soon.

It’s now 9:30 p.m. – time to get to bed because of my early morning start. Still no “Samster.” Well, not the first time that he’s been out all night. Probably checking in with a “lady friend.”

2:00 a.m. – Can’t sleep. I just don’t feel right about Sammy being out all night. Just a few weeks earlier, he lost a “battle” with a skunk. He still has a faint odor from that ordeal. I check all the doors he typically comes-and-goes from. I call his name several times. Still no Sammy.

3:30 a.m. – I leave for work, concerned that I may never see my “little buddy” again.

8:45 a.m. – The dreaded phone call comes. It’s my wife, choking back tears, telling me that she may have passed Sammy lying on the side of the road near our house. She couldn’t bring herself to stop and confirm her fears. I jump in my car, worried what I might find as I race home.

9:30 a.m. – Fear confirmed. Sammy’s svelte body and sweet little face show the ravaging effects of being hit by a car. I kneel over my loving friend, tears streaming onto his dirt-covered fur. I scoop him into my arms, walk to the tree line along my back yard, and kneel down over him as tears stream down my face. My hand rests on his lifeless body for the last time.

Sammy and I

Sammy and I

A little while later, I have finished preparing his final resting place among the trees he used to hunt moles and mice. I gently lay him in his earthly grave, say my final farewell and tell him someday we’ll meet again on the other side of the “Rainbow Bridge.”

I find it interesting that while your loved one is alive, every experience you have with that pet or person is “in-the-moment” – you enjoy it as it happens. The instant they’re gone – those experiences suddenly become memories – the only thing you have left to recall the special time you had with your loved one.

So all I have now are the beautiful memories of the sweet, loving kitty that had been my faithful companion about 10 years. He was unlike most cats… more like a dog in his faithfulness.

I only wish I could “download” all those special moments from my mind and into an album. As time passes, many of the special memories of my Sammy will fade away. I can only look forward to the day that we are reunited in heaven – both of us as we were in happier times.

Rest in peace my little friend.

I Love You,

“Dad”