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Let’s say it was May 1, 2006. That makes a good beginning for a story. So. May 1st. I arrived for my afternoon shift as a preschool teacher’s assistant and got to my normal routine of fetching snacks for my class. As I was grabbing a cup of apple juice for one of my kiddos allergic to orange (I had three in the class and I can still name them), the kitchen lady – we’ll call her Miss Olga, because that was her name – asked me if I had a cat.

“Do you have a cat?”

“No. Why, do YOU have a cat?”

“My daughter. She has three cats. And if no one takes them, she is going to throw them away.”

Now, English was not Miss Olga’s first language, so I can only hope that there was a nuance that didn’t properly translate. All I knew is that there were three kitties in Rhode Island in desperate needs of homes. I couldn’t possibly take three kitties in my one bedroom apartment with my then-husband who was skittish about owning furniture let alone other mammals. I did talk him into taking one kitty. Mostly by simply telling him we were acquiring a cat. Of the three cats, there were two five month old boy kittens and one seven month old girl. None had been “fixed” and I was concerned about spraying, so I said that I would take the girl.

Having never owned a pet before, he was apprehensive and concerned w/r/t things such as “cat hair on the bed” and discussion started on important matters, mostly what we were going to name this cat. Being that he was a writer and I’m an artist, I suggested Muse (because it sounds like “mews!”) and was told that was the dumbest idea for a cat name since people started naming cats. Fine. My back-up was Gorgonzola. His suggestion was Londonderry. We decided to go with a name that was both a cheese and a town in England and before we had picked her up, Wensleydale was named.

(Incidentally, the name she had before we got her was “Patches” because she’s a calico – and earlier in my life I had tried to name a kitten “Patches” except it was a solid orange cat. In my defense, I was three.)

On May 6, 2006 – her cataversary – Wensleydale Archipelago Quadrilateral came into our home instead of being thrown away.

Now – six years and about fifteen pounds later – that little slip of a kitten is a fat lard with a new cataversary. On August 1, 2012, she moved in with my dear friend Lis in her big house in Michigan – once again saved from certain doom. We couldn’t possibly keep our kitties in our new tiny! apartment with a very active Whuffle, nor could we stand to take them to a shelter. Lis stepped up at just the right moment to give this quirky, noisy, yet lovable furbag the best possible home.

I miss her already and I forgot to say goodbye in the whirlwind that was getting Paulo and I up to Vermont to be out of the way during the move. Being that she’s only 6 1/2, she’ll probably live with Lis longer than she did with me and I don’t know if cats have long term memories, but they will undoubtedly fade. I, on the other hand, will never forget my sweet Dale – neurotic as she was. I will never again be woken in the middle of the night to pointed and insistent complaints that she has never been loved. (LIES. ALL LIES.) And on the one hand… I won’t be woken up by a screaming cat after I just barely got the baby to sleep. On the other, I won’t be woken up to dole out kitty snuggles.

She’s been more than my kitty these past six years. She’s been my constant. In my Own Personal Apocalypse of ’07, she slept right next to my head every night and let me cry into her fur whenever I needed it. As I’ve often reminded Nuno, I’ve had Wensleydale longer than I’ve had him. And now… it’s a new era. Now we move on.

I wish her a long and happy life and while I’m so very, very sorry we couldn’t spend it together, I know that this worked out for the very best. Some day when we have more space, we’ll get another cat, but I’ll never have another Dale.

And now… some of Wensleydale’s Greatest Hits.