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The Story of Henry


   Apr 13

The Story of Henry

henry1The first picture I ever took of Henry, May 9, 2008

You might have noticed that there’s a new category. Much as I did when I heard the news of Rita Belle’s death, I decided to pay tribute to my beloved Henry Etta James with her own category. You can follow all our adventures there.

In going through my archives, I see that my earliest mention of Henry was shortly after I moved to Oakland, as a beat-up stray cat who hung out on my garage roof (I thought she was a boy until this past December. I have a history of not being able to tell boy cats from girl cats). A few months later, there was the first of many heat waves, and I was inspired to give the stray cat cool water.

It was the thin edge of the wedge. If I was giving her water, why not food? And as my attachment to her grew, I bought her a little tent which I set under the rosebush, so she had shelter from the sun and a defense against other cats. That led to the comfy bed under the porch in the summer and the couch with a blanket on the porch in the winter.

About a year after I started taking care of her, I was able to pet her. And when I moved from Oakland to the country, I brought her with me. I still think she knew I was leaving and wanted to make sure she came, too.

In reading over my many entries about her, I am struck by how our relationship proceeded cautiously at first, but speeded up dramatically after we moved. It’s as if she knew she didn’t have much time left and wanted to pack in as much as she could, sitting on my lap, being petted, feeling safe and warm at last. Sometimes I think that she had fought so long and so hard to survive that now she didn’t have to anymore, it all caught up with her and that’s what carried her off on that early spring night.

Now when I crinkle plastic bags in the kitchen, she doesn’t come running, meowing and getting under my feet. I still look at the floor whenever I’m in the kitchen or near the heater, making sure I don’t step on a little grey cat who is no longer there. When I go into the pantry/laundry room several times a day, she doesn’t follow me asking me for food, even when there’s food in her dish. Now that she’s gone, the girls have reverted to their pre-Henry positions of Audrey eating from the bowl on the left and June on the right. I still haven’t had the heart to empty out the litter box or wash her bed, which I don’t know what to do with.

I never imagined when I first brought water to that little stray cat that she would give me so much love. And that I would love her so much in return.

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One Comment

  1. Guy says:

    Yes, Henry had had a tough life and she was very careful in chosing the right person to make friends with, I think you were a great choice, she finished her years in comfort, respect and love, a stray cat could not ask for more.

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