Yesterday John and I sent our loving companion kitty, my “boyfriend”, Maceo home to heaven. He left this world with the same dignity, grace and courage that he lived every day of his 20+ years.
Maceo found us at the Boulder Creek Festival shortly after we were married. John and I felt his gaze at precisely the same moment and without exchanging words were both drawn to the cage where an animal rescue organization had him on display. He was not shy about showing us who he was. As the woman pulled him out of the cage, he kept his gaze focused on us until she touched him somewhere he didn’t care for. Instantly his loving gaze changed to a “what tha?” look as he cocked his paw and with unreal speed fired a warning swipe off the side her face. Spicy love, oh yeah. You always knew where you stood with Maceo, and he did not tolerate disrespect. No self-worth issues with this kitty. John and I reached an instant and unanimous decision without exchanging any words that this kitty was coming home with us.
Maceo was kind, loving (ok, maybe not so much if you were a small critter), and extremely social. He was also the bravest soul I’ve ever met. I’ve witnessed a number of confrontations (none initiated by him) and not once have I ever seen him back down. Not once. His defense was an unwavering courage to stand boldly in the face of adversity. I’ve never seen him so much as flinch from a charging dog, or give up any ground when another cat challenged his territory. He simply stood his ground with a look that let his foe know he meant business, but no harm.
He was about a year and a half old when he came into our lives full of play and adventure. One of my earliest memories of him was when I was working on my first quilt. I spent hours lining up the 3 layers on my floor and smoothing them out so they could be quilted together. Just as I was ready to start pinning Maceo seized the opportunity and pounced. I was laughing too hard to be mad, as we rolled around on top of my quilt together.
I thought of him as “my boyfriend” because we were so close, despite the fact that early on in our relationship Maceo “cheated on” me. Yup, I almost lost him to another woman. He started spending more time outside, not coming home for days at a time …. and when he did, he smelled like someone else’s perfume! After a few weeks of this, he came home with a note tied around his neck asking if this was someone’s cat. Incensed, I called the number right away and a nice lady told me she was hoping he was a stray and was about to cart him off to Wyoming! A day later she called to say he was back at her house. When I went to retrieve him there he was, laying up on her sofa with the surprised look of one having been caught in the act. That was the end of his philandering.
Maceo was named after another “black cat” – Maceo Parker, the sax player in James Brown’s band, and like his namesake, had the ability to hold the attention of an entire roomful of people. His favorite toy was a fuzzy grey mouse, and he turned into quite the showman with that mouse. John would hold the mouse 5 feet off the floor and Maceo would jump from a seated position and swipe the mouse out of his hand. Then John would raise it another few feet, and another, until his arm was fully extended over his head and Maceo would leap from a seated position with an amazing display of athleticism and grace and snatch it well over 7 feet in the air. Friends would gather in a circle around him and John, cheering and waiting in anticipation, and Maceo would put on his show with an innate sense of timing, anticipation and release.
As he got older, he started backing off the high jumps, but never neglected his social duties. Just as any aging athletic performer might, instead of entertaining, he transformed himself into an engaging socialite. At parties he would impress everyone with his hosting skills. He would visit each group spending just enough time to be noticed and for each to feel special before moving on to the next. He taught me a lot about being a graceful host.
In fact, Maceo taught me a lot about life in general. He taught me to accept whatever came my way with grace and acceptance. He was always there for me. Always willing to curl up next to me offering his silky soft fur to caress and reassuring me with his purr. Nothing could calm me down faster or as completely as Maceo’s ready purr. He used it to reassure, to make friends and to give unconditional love. My hand on his body would always produce an instant purr and he gifted me with that benevolent purr right up to his last moments.
Maceo is dearly missed. His lessons and his love will be with us forever.