I had never been a totally devoted "cat person" until I met him, half a century ago. Although a few cats had come and gone during my childhood, my parents were primarily dog people, and remained as such during their lives.
Although Asa and I went through high school together and shared many classes, we officially "met" the summer between our junior and senior years, when I went to work at his father's theatre. I supervised the candy-popcorn concession, and he took tickets at the door. Although he would occasionally wander over to buy a packages of Flicks chocolate or a soft drink, I had no idea he was remotely interested in me, at first. He was a quiet, shy kind of kid, but with a wry sense of humor. His first "come-on" to me was, "My father doesn't pay you to just stand around, you know." When a few nights later he asked if he could give me a ride home, I was smitten, and remain so to this very day.
I knew from the very first that Asa was a dedicated cat lover, and that to be part of his life, I'd have to learn to love cats too. Indeed, he told me when we were first dating that he had been "raised" by a cat (he also told me that his uncle ran a "feather farm" in New Mexico, but that's a different story.) I've written earlier, in Part 1 of this series about the incident that solidified forever my relationship with this boy-man.
Suffice it to say that our relationship, from the very beginning, included cats, who became an integral part of our lives. Our cats always were treated as family members, the same as our three human children. They were (except for a couple of notable exceptions) spayed and neutered at an appropriate time; fed (what was thought then to be) quality food, and vetted whenever the need arose.
In late 1996, I received an email from Sissi, a member of a group I belonged to, announcing that a new Internet company called "The Mining Company," was accepting applications to become a "Guide" for a given topic site. The criteria at that time was a passion for the subject, along with a knowledge of HTML. I mentioned the email to Asa and said that I'd like to apply, but had no idea what topic to apply for. He looked at the list and said, "Cats! You could write about cats." I agreed. At that point, I guess you could say that although I had never thought of it as such, my relationship with cats could be called passion, and after 40-some years I had accumulated a lot of knowledge about them.
I applied, and was accepted for training. Another of our original group, Bobbie Peachey, became the Web Clipart Guide, and to this day, manages one of the most popular and successful sites on that topic. The Mining Company, of course, eventually became About.com, and is one of the most widely-visited Internet content sites, with close to 500 Guides.
As I look back upon that beginning, I am astounded by my hubris, yet gratified that, with the inspiration of the Man Behind the Cats, coupled with many years of study and research, I have been able to far exceed the modest goals set way back then.
It has been a journey replete with milestones: sad, funny, tragic, and comic, but throughout all that, my life partner has been by my side, critiquing, editing, commenting, and encouraging. Through the high times and the low, he has remained my best friend, sometimes my harshest critic, but always my strongest supporter.
Although I cannot officially dedicate this web site to him, it stands today as my tribute to my life partner, the Man Behind the Cats, and each precious day is a new reminder of what he means to me.