The Summer of Goodbye

by Wallie Miranda Milliken

Tigger lay in her window cot and looked out on a bright, sunny day.

Spring was here at last.  It was a truly warm, sunny Spring after a long, harrowing winter, and Tigger was glad. Daddy Mark had opened all the windows and Tigger and her sisfur Claudie and brofur Tommy Tiger had each claimed a spot. They had left the big, soft easy chair enveloped in a shaft of sunlight for Daddy to sit on.  A soft, fragrant breeze ruffled her fur as Tigger looked out on the bright scene.  A bee droned lazily among the colorful, early spring flowers, daffodils and irises, pansies and nasturtiums.  It was a profusion of new life and Tigger eagerly drank it in.

Tigger closed her eyes and remembered a Spring long, long ago. Daddy Mark had been digging in the yard, "making a garden" he said, and she, being only a kitten then had so wanted to help.  She dug and dug and dug in the soft warm moist earth, flinging the dirt right and left with her paws, digging for all she was worth, just because she could.  She had dug a big deep hole when suddenly she encountered something strange.  It was long and skinny and white and wiggly.  Her paw shot out and down, capturing it, but it slithered away.  She grasped it in her kitten teeth and pulled and pulled, but she couldn't get it out of the hole.  Her Daddy noticed and came over, laughing.  "I see you've found an Earthworm, little one," he said.  "Let's leave it.  It's good for the garden."  And he covered it over, messing up her beautiful, big hole.  He planted vegetables and herbs in the garden.  Then he planted spring flowers around it for a border. He also planted seeds and bulbs, so that there were flowers all summer long. Tigger smiled at the memory.

That was the summer of flowers.

When Tigger was five, Daddy brought home a new cat one day.  He called her Claudie.  At first Tigger did not like the new cat.  She didn't want to share her Daddy with anyone.  But Claudie was so sweet and friendly that Tigger was soon won over.  Tigger had spent that summer showing Claudie the ropes.  How to sit on Daddy's lap and purr when he came home from work.  How to get extra kitty treats.  And best of all, how to chase butterflies in the garden among the bright flowers.  The flowers which Daddy planted each Spring.  He always made sure there were lots of flowers. Again Tigger smiled to herself.

That was the summer of new cat.

Another few years went by, one happy season blurring into another in Tigger's memory.  They were years of special moments shared with Daddy Mark and Claudie.  Then it happened again.  Daddy Mark brought home another kitty, who he named Tommy the Tiger, Guard Cat.  What a laugh. Tigger had never seen a scrawnier looking, more mangled cat in her life, but she didn't mind another cat so much this time, having learned from her experience with Claudie that her Daddy loved her none the less. Besides, it might be kind of nice to have a brofur too.  Well, by the end of summer Tommy had gained weight, his fur had taken on a glossy sheen, and he had become fast friends with both Claudie and herself.  He also took his name and position very seriously, and he went out of his way to guard the house.  Tigger smiled as she remembered Tommy's first summer in the garden.  In his zeal to protect them all he had chased a big bee through the flower bed.  His reward had been stung nose.  Ouch! But he was a good kitty and Tigger loved him.

She laughingly called that the summer of the guard cat.

Tigger opened her eyes and looked out on the garden now.  And far off on the edge of her vision she saw a hazy rainbow.  A bridge to another land. Part of her longed for that land.  It was a bright and shining place.  A place where she was young again, and free from pain.  And oh, the flowers! What wonderful, wonderful flowers.  They were so very beautiful.

Tigger fell asleep thinking of them and that bright land, and dreamed that she was a young kitten again, frisking through those beautiful, bright, colorful flowers. There was her Mother and her Father and her litter mates.  How happy she was to see them.

In the back of her mind, Tigger heard a sound.  It was Daddy Mark shuffling over to the window where she lay sleeping.  Tigger smiled in her sleep and turned over, exposing the scar on her belly.  She lay there for a minute basking in the warmth of her Daddy's gaze, as she slowly let the dream go.  And she thought about this human whom she loved so much.  This wonderful human Daddy who had loved her and cared for her for so long.  How could she tell him about this Rainbow land that beckoned her?  She didn't know, but she knew this for sure.  She would walk the path to that land slowly.  Very, very slowly. One paw at a time. She would take this summer to make some very special memories. Special memories for Daddy Mark and Claudie and Tommy the Tiger.  Yes, that is what she would do.  Tigger slowly opened her eyes, looked at Daddy Mark and smiled.

This would be the summer of goodbye.

Walllie Miranda's family, The Kittens Milliken, added this comment when they presented "The Summer of Goodbye" to Tigger's family:

"This story is written in honor of and dedicated to our friend Tigger Peterson, and her family, Daddy Mark, Claudie and Tommy the Tiger. We wish for you all many days of special memories."

Mark and Cats responded: "Thank you so very much for writing this wonderful story for us!"

Tigger went to the Rainbow Bridge on August 14th, 1998.

Wallie Miranda joined her there a few weeks later.

~Long live their memories~

Devoted to Cats-Table of Contents

"The Summer of Goodbye" © The Kittens Milliken

Tigger's photograph © Mark Peterson

Devoted to Cats ©1997 to present by
Pat & The Crowley Cats