Thursday, June 14

Farm Photo: 6/14/07

Saying Another Goodbye

The Wild Roses Are In Bloom

"How many cat years are in a human year?" Joe asked me as we lay in bed yesterday morning. He knew I was thinking about Gretel.

"Some people say seven, but there are plenty of cats who live to be at least 20, so some people say five."

"Well even at five years, that would make Gretel, wow, really old."

About an hour later, with a little cry of goodbye, the last of my four transplanted California cats passed away. She was 20 years old. Her death wasn't entirely unexpected, though I didn't think I'd be out in the garden digging another grave less than a week after the sudden loss of New Cat.

Apart from being periodically terrorized by the 4-1/2 pound Doodle Monster during the past decade, I don't think Gretel could have asked for a better cat life.

She spent her last day laying in the shade on the front step, taking in the fresh air and the farm. She waited for me to wake up the next morning and was wrapped in my arms when she took her final breath.

We were gone much of yesterday, and when I opened the front door late last night I caught myself automatically checking Gretel's favorite spots to see where she was, to make sure she was okay. I was surprised her absence hit me so hard. A little while later I realized that I've lived with Gretel longer than I've lived with anyone else in the world--more than half my life.

I'm not sad for Gretel, but a hundred years is a long time to be together. It's no wonder my heart and my home feel so empty. The memories, of course, will live on as long as I do, and for that I will always be grateful.

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to say.

  2. So sorry Susan, that is a cruel fate.

    Perhaps those darn cats had some kind of an agreement.

  3. You are having a bloody miserable week. Twenty, of course, is a really respectable number (hell, I'm not twenty!). She must have had just a perfect life living beside you, as she held on to life for so long. Perhaps she got depressed after New Cat found his end.

    I'm really, truly sorry for your loss(es, ugh). Life (and death) can be such a bitch sometimes. Let's hope the rest of the week goes uphill. I'm sending virtual hugs all the way from Estonia.

  4. God bless you!!!! That's all I know to say. I just finished catching up from New Cat's post not two hours ago and thought I would come back to finish reading the other things I hadn't had time to get to, and now here's this post.

    I know your heart probably feels like it can't take much more. Your habit of checking Gretel's spot will hang around for a while - it's crazy how your heart will hurt for something that was as simple as chekcing a resting spot.

    Please know that I am flooding you with prayers of peace and contentment! My heart hearts for you knowing how much animals mean to me and how much I know they must mean to you.

    Bless you, bless you bless you!


  5. Me again.

    Just remembering when we had to bury my dog and my cat shortly after (in a "family plot" on our farm). My children got in the habit of picking all kinds of "pretty" weeds and taking them to decorate their resting places.

    After a while, you couldn't see the bare spots where we buried them anymore, but each spring, the weeds grow in abundance on those two spots!

  6. We are very sorry about Gretel. Even 20 years is not enough.

  7. Susan,
    I've been reading your blog for a while now. During that time I've been delighted by your pictures and your stories and I have also been moved to tears.

    I grew up on a farm and I remember so well how hard it was to lose an animal friend. For those of us who are willing to allow them in, our fuzzy companions add so much to our lives. After a difficult year or so we recently lost our Newfoundland. When I read your line about checking all Gretel's favorite places to see if she was okay I teared up. After six months I still do that every time I open my front door. And every time I walk into the bathroom as the tub was her favorite place to sleep.

    I like the thought that Gretel and NewCat are together, hanging out in the sun.

    Thank you for opening your life to all of us. The rough spots get a little smoother when we know that we're not alone.


  8. Oh dear! Words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. You are in my prayers. Know that New Cat and Gretel are together now...

  9. I'm sorry for your hard and heavily-burdened week.

    I, too, had a cat named "Gretel" (sister to "Hansel," ...both of whom were taken from a "Free Kittens" set-up in front of our local Safeway). I was a teenager then, when I brought them home. Both kitties lived with me and my family on fourty acres of forestland. They were outdoors cats (my parents never allowed pets inside...a policy I remedied, immediately, in my adult years!).

    Gretel was a smallish, almost delicate-looking girl, with very light-grey fur and dark-stripes. Pretty.

    Hansel was darker grey with the same stripes. He lived to a ripe old age as a rugged, "Woods-Cat"...though he fed and slept at the house.

    Things were different for Gretel.
    After awhile, she disappeared. Something wild must have snatched her.

    I hope that we can help you bear your burden in some way, by being here, dear Farmgirl.


  10. Susan,

    I'm so sorry to hear of New Cat's and Gretel's passing. From what I've read of your farm they've had a wonderful life.

    Hugs from another pet lover.

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. I was moved to tears reading this post and once again send the Isla Paschal Richardson quote, "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me, as if I were beside you... I love you so -'twas Heaven here with you." I think this quote is fitting after the many years you shared with Gretel.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  12. I have read your blog for months b/c I grew up in the country and love your pictures and farm stories. I have never left a comment (not sure why?) but I was so sad for you with New Cat and now another loss so soon...bless you! You are in my thoughts & I hope my cats live to be 20 also! Although, I am sure 20 years together makes the loss that much greater!

  13. Please accept my condolences on the deaths of your cats.

  14. I am so sorry. It is amazing how they wait for you to be with them in their final moments. I got a kitty soon after I married. When she was twelve years old, my son woke me up in the middle of the night. Buffie was crying out really loud. He said, Mama, Buffy needs you. I went to her, she looked up to me then laid down and passed away. I know she was waiting for me to be with her.

  15. How very sad... I'm so very sorry.

  16. Oh, my GOD. What a heartbreak. I know, a twenty yera old cat dying naturally is different than a snake bite, but that's a lot in a week. "Last of the California cats" rings true for me--my "last of the childhood cats" died a few years back, also happy and old, but it was the end of an era. I'm sorry, again.

  17. Did Gretel leave to keep New Cat company, I wonder--but mostly, I just send all my positive and healing thoughts in your direction.

    I know she will live in your heart for more than another 100 years.

  18. Oh, that is just too hard on the heart. Our Ozzie cat is 17 1/2 years old and going strong, but that can't last forever....

  19. Oh, Susan - I'm very sorry. Gretel had a wonderful long march of days, and left knowing she was greatly loved. May your best memories of your time together come back every time you see those beautiful wild roses in bloom.


  20. Susan,

    Like so many others, I'm so very sorry for your loss. One of the best parts of your blog is how you express your love for the animals in your life. It's beautiful that you share that, and my heart also hurts at the loss of any of them. I can't imagine how difficult this week has been for you.

  21. Two so soon! That's got to be extra hard. I didn't comment on New Cat's death, though I cried for you both, but now I feel I must. My older cat died a few months ago after surviving many illnesses and beating the vet's odd over and over again. I wasn't sad for her, only glad she hadn't suffered much, but she was such a constant and present cat that I'm still adjusting to her not being here.
    Take care.

  22. Susan - Betty White (yes the actress who was on Golden Girls) wrote once that the price we humans pay for the joy of having our pets - is that we outlive them. It is a high price - but that love we share with our fourlegged companions is remarkable. So sorry for this cruddy week of loss - your writing about it has been perfect - poignant and not simply sentimental - but meaningful.
    Bless you farmmgirl and friends!

  23. man...I'm just so sorry...your heart will be sore for a while, I expect, but gradually you'll just smile when you think of your Gretel and New Cat...

  24. What a difficult time you've had this week. So sorry for your losses. It doesn't matter, old or young it still hurts to lose a member of the family. Big hugs!

  25. Well, this is so sad, too. I love your blog, and although it has been so very sad lately, it really, truly is the essence of farm living... life, new birth, death.... can't have one side of the coin without the other, as George Burns said in "Oh, God II". I am sorry about your beautiful cats. Sounds like just the ripe time for somebody to have a new batch of kittens!!!!!!! Take care. Gayla

  26. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I have been only reading for a short time, but I really enjoy your words and pictures. I looked for a picture of Gretel, and couldn't find her. New Cat's a beautiful boy. That you are able to move us to tears bares witness that you are a gifted writer. There's poetry in your words and soul.

    I have loved animals all my life. One of my earliest memories is of waking up at 3 AM, sneaking out of my room, down three flights of stairs, across the street, and into the farmer's barn to play with the cows and pigs. I was 18 months old. My mother couldn't figure out how I reached the door handle.

    Your writings flood my memories. Your soulful stories about your beloved animals brings back my bond of joy and love and loss through the years of many cherished pets.

    Gretel and New Cat will always be with you, and now with us. Thank you so much.

  27. I understand. My beloved cat was Dusty, and he was with me for 18 years...

  28. I'm so sorry to hear about another loss. No doubt you will check her favorite spots for awhile. Pets can bring so much joy and we are so lucky share this planet with them.

  29. Ohhh, FG. I'm so sorry. Two in such a short time.

    Kitty deaths are always hard to take--not sure why. You're right: Gretel did have a great life, even with the move halfway across the country. It's so good that she had such a caring person to feed and love her all her life.

  30. Oh, my. So sorry. I wish you time to grieve, and time to heal. Gretel must have had a wonderful nine lives with you.

  31. It is so hard to lose someone you love and who loves you. What is it about an animal's love that grabs your heart so tight? She was a beauty, too. Sorry for your loss, Farmgirl.

  32. "People who love cats have some of the biggest hearts around." - Susan Easterly

    it didn't occur to me that "saying another goodbye" referred to the same type of loss you had so recently shared with us. it just didn't seem possible. silly me. of course its possible...

    one may never know the reason your two feline friends left the physical world so near to each other, but reason there must be. that, i believe, is for certain. may the gentle grace and patience that only a cat can possess carry you through and beyond...

    peace to you, susan, and to gretel, as well...

  33. Double-whammy-cannot believe it. How your heart must ache. I know many people who grow up on farms tend not to ever get attached to animals. My mom is one of those people. A saint of a mother, but she just does not "bond" with animals. But she gave birth to seven girls, pretty much all of whom love animals! Mom tolerated us having pets as we grew up but never, ever showed any attachment-never petted them, etc. Our Dad however, is a pet-person and he helped offset her "pet detachment."
    Thinking of you as you navigate the painful goodbyes.

  34. It just goes to show what a wonderful nurturer you are, that Gretel lived to be 20, and that both she and new cat wanted to spend their last moments with you. I hope you can somehow find comfort in that.

  35. I am so sorry for your second loss ... two in one week is a strain and very hard. I pray that you will heal and remember all the joys that were given to you by these two blessed cats.


  36. tears... that was a sad post; im sorry for your sweet gretal and new cat. we lost two this year too, but not a precious as yours, so so sad.

  37. Killing me. Your losses are killing me! I'm typing this as my beloved cat, Maebelline, sleeps in my lap. We've spent extra time together this week... what with the losses at your farm and all. I know it must be difficult for you...

    Wishing you comfort ... and new friends,

  38. So sad to hear that another one of your babies has passed. Yet, I know that those twenty years had to be really good years for her ... especially living with you. My thoughts go out to you and yours.

  39. Susan, so sorry to hear about two losses so close after another. Both cats had a wonderful life on your lovely farm and with such loving care - they are at peace. It is just so sad, that we who are left behind, will miss our companions so much. Suzie

  40. Dear Susan
    my heart goes out to you and Joe
    Losing tow wonderful cats in such a short time is very hard on the heart! I know i had to deal with losing three of my animals in 2 months. and one in march of this year. and like you i still hear, see and do things that i have to stop and realize that they are no longer with me. What a pull on the heart strings -- i don't think i will every get over them. but i do think of all the good times we had and that make it a bit easier to deal with.
    my heart goes out to you and Joe.
    God bless

  41. I guess it's not the week for cats, one of my neighbor's cats never came home, been gone a little over a week now.

    I'm sorry for the both of you, twice, it's hard losing a beloved companion.

  42. The blessed old is going out with grace, comfort and love. Who could ask for more.


  43. Wishing you whisker-soft memories to ease your pain. I am so sorry, Susan, for the double hit on your heart. Blessings to you and Joe.

  44. Oh honey I'm soo sorry.. you and yours have had such a hard week..

    I lost my "bugged eyed" monster a month ago.. and I still catch myself looking over where she use to lay next to my bed..
    My fur baby was with me for 15 years ..... been through alot together .. but she loved me just the same..
    {{{ many hugs from TN}}}

    Denise in TN

  45. Our furry ones bring such joy to our lives and it's never easy when they leave us. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your kitties.

  46. I'm sorry for your lost..2 so closely together...I understand about the relationship you and Gretel shared. I had my cat Randy since I was 19 and moved in to my first apt alone in college..She saw me in to my 40's , married, and living in a house with a man and 2 dogs.God bless her. They become a part of you......

  47. It is the cycle of life and, while that doesn't make it easier to take, it makes it easier to accept.

    This reminds me of a magnet poetry poem I wrote on at the time of a very, very, difficult loss: Sleep, my sweet beautiful girl. I remember.

    Goodbye Gretel.

  48. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. :(

  49. I'm so sorry. You've had a rough week. I don't know what I'd do if I lost 2 of my cats in a week. At least she was able to hold on long enough to say goodbye to you. My condolences.

  50. I'm so very sorry. It sure seems like a lot to take in one week. Here's wishing you new kitty love soon.

  51. hey, somehow i ran across your blogger. and i love how you write about cats.

    so many people dislike them for absolutely no better reason then "they eat your food and don't do anything."

    which of course, is completely untrue.

    um, anyway... sorry to hear about both of your losses. i have a cat named jessie and i've had her since i was about 5/6 years old. she came as a gift from my sister.. this little tiny ball of black fur.

    i'm a black cat person.

    anyway, i'm 24 now.. soon to be 25 in a few months and i know she's getting old. one white whisker has now turned to 4 and she drools a bit more then i've ever noticed. but other than that, she doesn't look as old as she is.

    and i guess, well i just wanted to say... she's still with me, and she will always be with me. when she goes i know a big chunk of me will go with her.

    and also, i'm so happy that j2 is doing well. animals do have feelings.. some people are far to dense to realize it.

    take care..

    and i know you'll find a friendly kitty soon.

  52. Oh, I'm so sorry. She and New Cat have to be together now.


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