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Simon and James

The lessons a cat can teach a boy

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Edye is a hairdresser by trade, a catlover from birth, and an elightened soul through study and meditation. She told me the remarkable story of Simon and James when I visited her salon recently, and gave me permission to share it with my readers. Any inaccuracies are mine alone.

Simon was a pretty old cat, both physically and spiritually, when he first entered Edye's life in the late 1990s. I don't know the exact circumstances of their meeting, only that they formed an instant bond, as cats and humans often do. Around the time Simon came to his forever home, a child was born to the home next door - a boy named James - and another bond was formed that would last beyond life itself, as we know it.

Simon was evidently a sociable cat, and made himself at home among the cat lovers in the small, wooded neighborhood in the Russian River valley of Northern California. James' home was no stranger to cats, but, even as an infant, he seemed to recognize a kindred spirit in Simon. He would coo and smile at other kitties, but when he saw Simon's stripes, his eyes would light up and his little feet would kick with delight. It was evident to all that he recognized something very special about this particular cat.

Simon must have recognized something very special about this boy, because he was a frequent visitor as James grew and developed. The two became almost inseparable companions - as James would say, "best friends." Their bond was not so much the instant knotting together of two kindred spirits, as an intricate weaving process, with one soul providing the blank tapestry upon which the other could paint the colors of ancient wisdom.

James had a nightime ritual of a bath before his 8 p.m. bedtime, and Simon became an active participant. They had a game they'd play. James would put a favorite toy on the edge of the tub - perhaps a rubber ducky. Simon would playfully bat the ducky back into the tub, James would giggle his delight, and they would repeat the ritual. Edye didn't mention it, but I would bet that Simon also watched over James as he drifted into dreamland - that is how close these two became. The young boy let everyone know that Simon was his best friend, and there were no doubts where Simon's affection lay.

As James grew, he became the proud owner of a red Radio Flyer wagon, a piece of transportation no self-respecting boy should be without. Simon would hop in the wagon, along with a few of James' prized toys, and the boy would take him for a ride around the neighborhood. Simply put, you rarely saw James without Simon, and vice-versa. It was as though they each recognized some invisible trait of spirit within the other, to the point that they became to think almost as one.

Sadly, as is the nature of human-feline relationships, as James was growing into his life, Simon was growing out of his. When James reached the milestone age of five, Simon was around 18, and his body was wearing out. He slowed down, became arthritic, and his kidneys began to fail. Still, on "good days," he perked up when James came to visit, and was not averse to yet another (short and gentle) ride in the Red Flyer. I imagine not a few tears flowed when folks saw James tugging that wagon with the stoic tabby inside, no doubt purring up a rumble to rival the noise of the rubber wheels on the gravel path.

Next > Simon says "goodbye"

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