An update on Smokey, who was my cat 10 years ago but has since chosen to live with a succession of elderly neighbors.
I got an email today from the son of Emilia, Smokey's current owner. Emilia died yesterday. She had dementia, and her son had moved in to take care of her about a year and a half ago. Shortly after the son moved in, Smokey was allowed in from the garden shed, where he'd lived for three or four years, to the house, which he enjoyed enormously.
"Smokey lost his best buddy," the son wrote. "The two were great companions for one another."
We last saw Emilia this spring, when we stopped by while out on a walk. I'm not sure she recognized us, but she appreciated our interest in the cat.
"Smokey's a good cat," she liked to tell us.
This is the second elderly companion Smokey has lost. In 2003, the cat had gradually moved in with our neighbor two doors down, a retired homicide detective who had a great resemblance to the cartoon character Crankshaft. After the detective moved to a nursing home in 2007, Smokey hiked seven blocks north to find Emilia, whose husband had just died. Emilia and I had a deal where she fed Smokey and I took care of the vet visits.
During Smokey's first year with Emilia he'd walk seven blocks every night to sleep in the laundry room, but rush back up there at sunrise. Then he moved into Emilia's garden shed, where we eventually installed a barn heating pad for the winter months. We'd go up and check on Smokey every few weeks until Emilia's son moved in with her. Fortunately, he likes cats.
I suspect that Smokey, who is 13 now, will probably stay with the son. Though there is an elderly man who lives next door...