By September, 2010, Sasha had just turned 16 and was as beautiful as ever. While she had gotten a little thin under her magnificent Persian fur coat, she had mellowed very little. You could scratch the top of her head, if you were very quick at withdrawing your hand before she swiped you. She liked to head butt you, too, but you stroked her at your peril. She was not above giving Mum’s leg a quick slash if she was displeased about something.
She shared Mum’s bed while Mum read and slept and sometimes insisted, as cats do, that she was more deserving of attention than the book. It’s very hard to read with a large, furry Persian sprawled across the pages of your book, hair tickling your nose and two huge blue eyes staring at you, daring you to move her while her tail twitched almost imperceptibly.
She liked her fresh green grass every day and both Mum and Dad prowled the fence line picking a handful for her, of which she ate a little. But, it had to be fresh. We potted up some cat grass bought especially for her. Would she eat that? No way! She liked the garden variety, thank you.
She had afternoon tea with us every day, licking a little butter from Mum’s finger before ensconcing herself in her armchair. She sat in the bay window in the morning sun every day, warming her old bones and contemplating life, as all cats do. She never shared those thoughts with me and I doubt that they were idle.
She was a great companion to Mum. They had been a pair of gypsies together for many years – from North Perth to Rockingham, from Pinjarra to Rivervale. Sasha was even taken in at Archbishop Goody Hostel in East Perth, where she captivated the residents and staff alike. That was such a funny day. We had warned everyone about how savage “Sasha The Slasher” could be; that she was not cuddly and should not be touched. We brought in her carry bag, put the bag on the bed in Mum’s new room in the midst of a small throng of staff and residents, and warned everyone to stand back.
Did Sasha live up to those dire warnings? Of course not! She nonchalantly lay in the bag, and then allowed herself to be lifted out and touched by absolute strangers. Damn cat! Made us all look so foolish and the whole time she and Mum lived at Archbishop Goody Hostel, she was the perfect guest. In no time at all, she had the run of the lovely enclosed garden and a couple of times, when Mum had to go to hospital, a willing team of volunteers cared for Sasha.
Once, after they moved to East Vic Park, she got out of the unit, ran down to the back fence and as quick as a flash, she leapt over the back fence into the laneway. She was so agile, in spite of being 15 years old, that Mum was completely astonished. Mum had to run down the driveway, up to the corner and down the side of the neighbouring houses to get to the laneway and then along the laneway to find her. Mum was horrified at what Sasha had done. Luckily, Sasha was equally horrified at her daring and had gone to ground by the fence. She was an inside cat – outside in a world she did not know. It was the work of a moment to pick her up and carry her home – Mum telling her off all the way back about how naughty she was to do such a thing.
One day when we were at afternoon tea with Mum, she bolted out the front door that Dad had left open. I saw just a flash of fur as she headed down the side of the unit, towards the back yard and I was out that door and after her equally as fast. I picked her up behind the shoulders, held her at arm’s length and brought her back inside. She sulked with me for several days after that.
We had to take Sasha to the vet, for the last time. She had a large mass on her tummy, most likely a cancer, and had had pain relief. The vet has been very helpful and Sasha has had the best of care. She will be going up to Lawnswood Pet Cemetery and will be in good company with many of our past family pets. We bought a beautiful blue box with a blue and silver lining for her journey. She has had a good life with Mum and it was Mum’s decision that Sasha be treated with dignity as she came to the end of her life. I am very proud of my Mum – that she had the strength and courage to make the decision to part from her closest companion of the last sixteen years.
They have been “two drifters, off to see the world, there’s such a lot of world to see.”
Two drifters off to see the world.
There’s such a lot of world to see.
We’re after the same rainbow’s end–
waiting ’round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.
As Andy Williams sings it, she has indeed been my Mum’s Huckleberry Friend You can hear this beautiful song song here:
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