Almost 16 years ago to the day, we adopted our beloved orange and white tabby, who has now departed hopefully to greener, catnip scented pastures. A close friend and former Cambridge Associates colleague, Dorr Begnal, knew of my dog with a bone obsession for having an orange cat. On an early day April in 2005, less than a year after we had moved to Hingham, he alerted me that one was available. A close friend of his had had a kitten dumped unceremoniously in a basket on his front porch in Somerville! I rushed out with Perry and Janie to take a look, and there this kitten was serenely purring and sleeping, just waiting to be rescued. We whisked him away, and that was the start of 16 years of joy.
Christened Flame on the veterinary records, you were more familiarly known as Doodles although Floppy was my special nickname for you. From almost the very beginning of your life at 659 Main Street, you always let your beloved Janie carry you around the house like a floppy rag doll. And, after Janie departed for college and was no longer your daily best friend forever, I vainly tried to make up for her absence. You rewarded me by always flopping over on your stomach, begging to be petted. Every day I came home from work, you would dutifully follow me up the steps into my changing room, jump on the bed and go into your floppy routine with the loudest purr of contentment on the planet. Your first day at our home was less than auspicious. Poppy, the original cat lover and whisperer, was less than thrilled we had absconded with you just a few days before spring break vacation and couldn’t believe we would be deserting you so quickly. But, it took less than a day for your personality to convince her you were a valued member of our family and that first summer she dutifully rescued you after you climbed a tall tree in our backyard. You always slept on her side of the bed, but I was more than okay with playing third fiddle in our house. Your capacious kindness always made room for plenty of people. While Perry has been away for years, you definitely imparted to him a fondness for orange cats. He became the number one buddy of the male orange cat Tommy at his Idaho ranch. Always friendly and compassionate, you connect the dots for me to a long line of great Hingham High athletes who sat for you and befriended you during our vacations: Cece and Molly Baggott, the Freda sisters, Julia and KK Patterson, Allie and Catie Burton, Jenna Tyrrell and Cara Keane. And fittingly, you spent most of your final days on the gray fleece blanket that Jenna, Cara, Carly Price, Lexi Dewire, Sky Bordeau, Abby Levine and Haley Platt, members of last season’s dream tennis team that wasn’t, gave me last winter.
For many of the elderly, this past year has been one of abject desolation and loneliness, isolated from loved ones by Covid lockdown policies. But, for you, your final year was heaven on earth as we were around virtually the whole time and you had Janie back in the nest finishing her graduate work the last 9 months of 2020. You branched out to fish and steak on the grill, savored constant toy time, camped out under the Christmas tree, and lolled your carefree days away on the sofa nestled near your younger “brother” Pip the Siamese. But, alas your time had come. Your kidneys failed, but your huge heart could never give up. Now I have two memorials of you: these final words of appreciation and the photo cat calendars Janie made me for Christmas the last few years. We could not have asked for a more loyal and loving companion. My mind’s eye will never stop seeing you.