Memorials come in all shapes and sizes. I have my Memorial Wall, with the pictures of the cats I have lost hung above the urns containing their ashes. But there are other remembrances, too, hardly to be recognised as such.
Earlier this month, I wrote about once more making available the little ceramic cup that was placed near the floor of the bedroom so that Cammie could have a drink in convenience and ease after her first stroke. Since cats never drink enough water, especially during the hot months, the return of Cammie’s Cup produced another easily-accessed source of water for my beasts. Initially meant primarily for Josie, she and Renn have used it so much that its contents are frequently at a low level. So I have replaced it with the larger Cammie’s Bowl.
The princess never used the bowl. It is, in fact, not one but a pair of identical bowls, one of which I use for the outsider-cats (after the raccoon family smashed the big glass bowl originally serving that purpose). I have decided to use the second in the place of Cammie’s Cup. Periodically, they will be washed and exchanged. But whichever is being utilized inside will be known, for the duration of that interior use, as Cammie’s Bowl. It provides sustenance and refreshment in the same place as the cup, and in the same spirit.
In deciding on this change, I was reminded of another bowl that I have, and which has been in use for at least forty years. Made of strong and thick plastic – it’s rather sad that even such a cheap material as plastic was made better in the old days – this ordinary bowl was long known in my family as the Dog’s Dish.
When I was a youth, my family had a cockapoo called Finnegan. She had curly black hair, except at her chin, where it was white (that white spread and diffused as she aged); like Tucker now, Finnegan loved ice cream, and she would often receive a share in the Dog’s Dish. Thinking about it, it was probably not a good receptacle for the purpose; it should be shallow, with a heavier base, so it could not be moved about by a tongue lapping up the last particle of cream. Yet she never complained. I suspect it was used simply because it was an odd bowl and cheap. But I use it for ice cream still, and for potato chips, and fruit slices…
There is Tungsten’s little ceramic dish, and Josie’s original plate that broke, Bear-Bear’s cat-bed, and Cammie’s saddle-tree… All items which, though not officially named, nonetheless remind me of my lost friends. We all cherish the photographs we have of those family members who have gone ahead, but sometimes it is the more ordinary, the more mundane items in life that stir the strongest memories. Like the whiff of a scent, a slant of light, a few bars of a song not heard since childhood, our memories are sometimes reawakened by the every-day; memories that are themselves every-day, and ordinary, yet which remind us of the extraordinary people, places, times – and animals – we once knew.