Johnnie came into my life when I was only 33, that is THIRTY THREE; I am now 50. He showed up in our back yard one winter. He appeared to have no home, and only had the shelter of the neighbour's deck. My husband started leaving food out for him, and gradually he came to trust us more and more, until by Easter 1995 he moved into our house. He came with chapped paws and wind-burned ears. I always admired and respected his resilience. He always appreciated having a safe and warm home.
Our vet placed Johnnie at one or two years old when he arrived. He was euthanized yesterday at 18 or 19. What does this have to do with art quilts? Johnnie accompanied me through every quilt I made. He saw me make my first quilt. He sat on every quilt that was fed through my sewing machine and any finished quilt that was left within sitting distance. He was my studio assistant, my apron string, and in many ways my best friend. He inspired a quilt by his charming behaviour of being mesmerized by my aquarium.
The quilt was called "One Fish, Two Fish, Striped Fish, Blue Fish" (2004)
He also inspired many nicknames like Johnny Rockets, Johnny Pneumonic, and in his last few months, "Johnny on the Spot".
Sitting in the sun was what he loved best, well maybe next best to sitting on my lap.
Even when he went blind two years ago, he remained a contented cat, adapting to his circumstances, and proving his resilience again and again. All of the following pictures show him happy and well despite his blindnesss.
He loved being in the garden in spring and summer, and was never so foolish as to venture outdoors again in winter after being rescued from winter.
The house feels empty today, even though we still have two cats. There is no one to sit on my lap the minute I sit in the living room, especially when I am icing my knee, no one to greet me at the door when I come home from trips. Seeing his health decline in the last two years, I always worried I would be away on a teaching trip and not be there for him when his time came. I am grateful we were able to spend this past Easter weekend together, with him glued to my lap, and I am grateful I was able to stay with him until the end. A "mother" is supposed to love all her "children" equally, but I've never had such a bond with an animal before.
"To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go."
Letting go is indeed the hardest part. Johnnie, you were the best and I shall miss you always!