She had been with us since the turn of the century. All three of our children were very fond of her, even though at times she seemed to be from another planet. She demanded attention late at night and early in the morning, and often during the day. At times it seemed that she had an insatiable appetite, but her favourite tucker remained those crispy and tasty bites. I speak, of course, of our cat, Ember.
Her name was derived from the streak of colour she had on the back of her neck – more pronounced when she was a kitten. It was the colour of a fire’s dying embers. Her temperament never lost its association with a fire!
Sadly, last week the fire went out of Ember’s life. She disappeared overnight and when we found her the next morning she was dead – curled-up in her normal and comfortable sleeping position, but cold and wet, and lying on her favourite chair in the corner of the back garden. Her death was most unexpected.
A wise old woman once told me that a person’s character can be judged by how they treat old people and animals. Well, I have never been accused of ill-treating old people, though some have tried my patience and kindness (and, no doubt, vice versa) and, since as early as I can remember, the families to which I have belonged have never been without an animal pet (or a goldfish). Dogs and cats there have been in abundance. Many have died; others have been given to new owners as my family have moved to other cities and continents.
Ember was the last in a long line of cats that we have loved and cherished. It is doubtful that she will be replaced, either in our affections or by acquiring another pet. Glenn, Corinne and Darren, each in their own way, will feel her absence when they visit the family home.
Ember is buried in a quiet corner of the front garden in our Northampton home. There is a garden figure over the burial spot. Attached to the figure is a poignant poem written by my wife, Vicky. More than any other description, it most excellently captures the feline essence of whom and what Ember was and what she meant to us:
Black and sleek and wide, wild-eyed,
Silent mover in the shadows and dark.
White bibbed, white socks with glistening fur,
You have left us with your mark.
Mistress of your own destiny,
Stroke but do not stir!
A single minded, quite daft pussy,
You now go down in family cat lore.
We will remember your freaky behaviour,
Your temper was renowned!
String to chase and vacuums to fear,
We will hold you forever dear.