It can be very difficult to explain to people who aren't pet owners how deeply a pet can impact your life, how entrenched they become in your routine, your conversation, your language. How they really are a (not merely "like a") member of the family. And how difficult it is when it comes time to grieve them. Rumple was born on our front porch on April 9, 1993 - I was 13, my brother was 8, and my sister was 6 - and she grew up with us, then watched us grow. She was with my family for 14 and a half years, and left us quickly and without suffering from heart failure and old age.
There are so many things that made Rumple wonderful. Her "vices" - fatness, laziness, bossiness - were just as special to us as her "virtues" - intelligence, empathy, beauty. She learned how to sleep heavily and snore from my brother; she used to make sure my sister got up on time in the morning to get ready for school. She would come spend time with us when we were down; she kept my mom company, and she loved sharing a good nap with my dad. She would sit with us as we listened to music and conduct the beats with her tail - sometimes she would even cue in the odd cymbal crash or brass hit. She liked the big band/swing my brother listened to when he was younger, and thought that the Mozart I listened to was alright, but much to our chagrin she had a weakness for smooth jazz that we couldn't change. She tolerated my brother's trumpet practice to the best of her ability - as he improved and his loudness increased, she would give him a long look and leave the room when he got out his trumpet; but then wait outside his door until he was done. She broke her front left leg when she was younger and had to sport a big purple cast for a few weeks. After the cast was removed, she used to guilt trip us into letting her in the house by sitting at the sliding glass door and pathetically lifting up her paw. (She eventually stopped when she figured out that we would just let her in anyway - we could never deny her anything.) She was a big cat - 22 pounds at her height - and she ruled over the other cats with an iron paw.
She totally changed our language and ways of communicating. She had many names - like Boom-Boom, The Woo, Fats, Baby - and these names were applied to everyday objects and actions. Even my car, by virtue of being large, rounded, reliable, and gray was dubbed "Rumple II" in her honor. Every time anyone in my family sees even the make and model of my car on the road, we point it out as a "Rumple" car.
When I was 14 years old, in my 9th grade English class we had to write a series of poems, each one focusing on a different method (meter, tone, rhyme, etc). My poems were a collection of works based on our cats; since it was like a little photo album, I kept it when I threw away all my other high school stuff. Here is the one I wrote about Rumple. I won't change or alter or correct anything - (being a humanities grad student, it's difficult to not fix my written language!) - I'll just let it stand. We loved her; I loved her, and I feel so blessed that we had her in our lives.
I, the beautiful Queen of Cats,
Rule on high over my siblings.
A first-born perfectionist, yes,
I am a model for felines.
For very few cats can achieve
The wondrous stature that I have.
My fur is the color of snow
As well as a light, cloudy sky.
I move daintily on my toes,
My tail in the air, higher than
That of any cat you will ever know.
I am the most intelligent,
My brain capacity is more
Than any human genius can
Or will ever have in their lives.
I, Queen of Cats am very
Loveable. I love a pat or
Good exchange of conversation.
I listen intently, my eyes,
Such as I have, look at you
As you speak, my little ears up,
Catching every word so as to
Make a good comeback, as every
Good little queen does, for I am,
No exceptions, the very best
In the line of felines or the
Human race, the very best Queen
Any human or cat can have.
Rumpleteaser Marble Replogle
April 1993-November 2007