At the grand old age of forty, my sweetheart, Glenn, left his secure job at General Electric Canada and went off to Humber College with students half his age to follow his lifetime dream to become a funeral director. The moment I was certain Glenn was beyond the city limits, a friend and I went directly to the Humane Society where I adopted a strawberry blond kitten believed to be about eight weeks old. Little did we know, he would be part of our family for the next seventeen years.
EENY, MEENY, MINY, MOE
Now that I had adopted him, whatever would I name him? Common names such as Frisky, Blackie, Misty, Smokey, Midnight all seemed beneath him. Somewhere in the distant past, he must have been linked to royalty because he possessed an elegance and sophistication that one would associate with high society. This little fur ball came into my life during a dark period while I was on sick leave for major clinical depression and was seeing a psychiatrist. Therefore, Sigmund as in Sigmund Freud seemed suitable. And that, dear friends, is how he got his name.
A MIDDLE NAME FOR SIGMUND
Next, Sigmund needed a middle name. With such a prestigious first name, I couldn’t give him any old name, and certainly not one of those modern names like North West, Rainbow, Sparrow or Apple. I tried the names of kings and princes: Sigmund Louis…Sigmund Henry…Sigmund William…Sigmund James…Sigmund George…Sigmund Albert…and Sigmund Phillip…but nothing sounded just right. The perfect name came to me while I slept…Alexander. It had a good ring to it “Sigmund Alexander Clark.” Yes, Sigmund Alexander Clark it was.
From the day I brought him home, Sigmund was a first-class scaredy-cat, afraid of his own shadow. Had he been mistreated before he came to live with us? We will never know. Sigmund’s arch nemeses were THE CAR and THE VET. Every car ride was the same. It went like this: First, he crawled up in the back window and pooped, “Pew, pew, pew.” Then he wrapped himself around my neck like a mink stole, tongue hanging out, making the haunting sounds of scared cats. Thank goodness the vet’s office was a short ride. In later years, we wrapped him in a bath sheet and held him in our arms tightly and that made a world of difference.
(Interestingly, Sigmund’s nephew Tino, LOVED car rides, even long trips from London, Ontario. Tino even crawled in the cat carrier when he wasn’t travelling…just for fun…but I digress.)
THE CLARKS GO TO MARMORA
At the end of Glenn’s school year, we sold our home in Peterborough and moved to Marmora, ON. Still unwell, I passed the time by quilting hours everyday. Sigmund lit up when I brought out my portable quilting frame. He seemed to think I set it up for him to sit in the centre of the quilt where he could survey his kingdom in every direction.
On one occasion, Sigmund got ahead of himself. While I arranged the quilt top over the frame, but before I could snap it into place, Sigmund jumped up on it. You can guess what happened. He plunged to the floor, with the quilt following. Spooked, he tore off as if all the dogs in Marmora were chasing him.
O, SIGMUND, WHERE ART THOU?
Sigmund was an indoor cat, but every now and then, the irrepressible voice of nature reminded him that his ancestors prowled the grasslands of Africa. His response? He ran away. Glenn searched for him, but Sigmund ignored his pleas. Sigmund would stay out for hours, like a rebellious teen breaking his curfew. We left the patio door open a few inches and he always slinked in silently before daylight.
THE INEVITABLE DECISION THAT BREAKS EVERY PET OWNER’S HEART
Sigmund Alexander Clark was our treasured pet for almost seventeen years. As the years progressed, age began to take a toll. His hind quarters grew stiff and sore. Next his kidneys began to fail. There were numerous trips to the vet. After many medical interventions, we had to make the decision every pet owner dreads – to have Sigmund put down at the grand old age of seventeen. Our hearts were broken. We cried buckets of tears. He came into our lives an orphan and departed a cherished family member.
WHERE CARS AND VETS ARE NO MORE
Sigmund joined the famous cats who had passed on before him:
- Morris, the cat with nine lives
- Socks, a stray cat adopted by the family of President Bill Clinton
- Emily, the American cat that made her way to France
- Unsinkable Sam, the cat that survived three shipwrecks
- Scarlett, the cat that saved her kittens from a fire
- Blackie, a cat that inherited 15 million British Pounds and became the richest cat in history, and last, but not least,
- Tuxedo Stan, a cat who ran for mayor of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Oh, how we miss you, Sigmund Alexander Clark, MBC (Mouse and Bat Consultant), but we know you are in good company, somewhere over the Rainbow Bridge, where car rides and veterinarians are no more.