Animals are true companions for many people and hold a dear place in our hearts. We take care of them, watch them grow and receive their affection and attention when we need it the most. Pets come in all shapes, sizes and breeds including cats, dogs, goldfish, parakeets, gerbils, hamsters, lizards, frogs and just about any creature that we can think of who walks or swims the earth. We treat our fuzzy loved ones with the utmost care because we realize they are more than just an animal, they are our friends that truly solidify themselves in our households as one of the family. Psychologists reason that it is important to include pets within our lives, particularly for children because they teach responsibility and fellowship. One factor that is also said to hold positive learning influences for kids who have animals is the hard lesson of accepting life and death. No one likes to see our beloved animals pass but there is significant research that shows losing a pet prepares the young in a healthier manner than a child who grows up in a pet-less environment.
Several months ago, my family lost our Siamese cat that not only filled our home with warmth and humor, but also taught my two boys the feeling of mourning. It was hard, tear-jerking and at the very least, sad but I still believe that this first experience of death allowed them to understand and process their feelings in a better way than if we had no furry loved ones at all. The question came later as to how we should honor little Ricky so that he would still remain close to our family’s hearts. After some time spent brainstorming, we came up with a way that not only honored the cat, but would reflect his true spirit in nature.
Ricky was an unusual breed who was half seal point and half chocolate point. The two varieties were interesting in his genetic make-up giving him a head that resembled a seal from behind and a beautiful gray brown coloring that was seen throughout his silky fur. We kept these two qualities in mind when we came up with an idea that would properly memorialize the cat in a way that would represent both his beauty and character. Being a family who loves the outdoors, particularly backyard living, landscaping and gardening, we thought what better way to keep his memory alive than to plant a tree thematic of these attributes?
You might be thinking you’re overdoing it but really, it’s a very sweet and environmentally protagonist approach to handling the bereavement of a pet who’s passed on. During the selection process, our family had to keep in mind of the physical attributes of Ricky including his texture, shading and personality. After mulling over ideas of cherry and magnolia plantings, we finally came to the perfect conclusion- a pussy willow tree. The buds of the willow are incredibly similar to the smoothness of his coat and the gray chocolate tints that bless the blooms are also a beautiful match to his silky coat. The pussy willow is eccentric (another trait of the cat) having a posture that hangs down and winds its branches in and on top one each other. Standing with a slender trunk, the overhang bends down looking similar to an umbrella. We felt that the dynamic architecture of the willow was a fabulous match to our out-of-the-box kitty who talked loudly whenever excited, danced in circles chasing his tale and possessed a royal appearance with his bright blue eyes and stunning fur coat. If your bereaving the loss of a pet, you might want to plant a tree in his or her honor too! You’ll be proud of the memory you’ve erected and feel blessed to watch it bloom every spring.
Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA