This song goes out for my cat Oliver, who died yesterday after sharing two decades of life with me.
I first found him, a starving and flea-ridden kitten, on the back streets of Boston when I lived in that city, naming him after Oliver Twist because he was always hungry. He grew up into a big, strong, blustery fellow, affectionate and fearless -- even after our move to the Arizona desert, where he learned to give wary berth to coyotes and watch out for bobcats and snakes.
At the age of seven, he developed a cancerous growth in his ear. I was poor; friends said, "Look he's had a good life." But his was a life that I held in my hands, a sacred responsibility, so I emptied my bank account for an operation to give him a little more time. Reader, he lived to the age of twenty. Best money I ever spent.
He was tough, my dear boy. He loved his life, and his home, and me, and I loved him. I will miss him forever. Go gently, Oliver. Go gently, old friend.