On Sunday, the 9th, I finally put Papa Bear’s ashes in the ground. You may remember, a week after he passed away I suffered a concussion and ended up in the hospital. By the time I felt even remotely well enough to deal with the task of burying him, the weather had changed to winter. So I decided to wait until spring. All summer I have been wanting to do it - frankly I was feeling worse about leaving him in the container on my TV shelf than I was about burying him because that is no place for him to be left. But I was needing my sister’s help to do it and between the two of us, we just hadn’t had time yet.
I was mostly relieved to finally be putting him in a proper place. He is in the side corner of the backyard now, next to Zippo. His ashes were in a red container with paw prints on it - it looked like the perfect little tin for him. When I opened bag that it was in, I found that the vet also had his paw-prints done up for me in clay. That was a nice little surprise. It must be something new they started in the year between when Zippo passed and when Papa passed. hiyacynth had also sent me a headstone for him and it is the perfect one for my little man. She had previously sent us one for Zippo as well and the lettering on it was very rounded, open and it felt very fitting for Zippo, as did the heart underneath her name. Papa’s is rougher looking, darker with a little paw print, which is just right for him. Even the stone is fitting for him.
I didn’t expect to get overly emotional because I really was just happy to finally put him where he belonged. But when I saw his ashes it just struck me that was all that was left of him. That was a hard thought. It’s weird because most of the time I am fine, but every so often I get the thought that if I turn around, he’ll be standing there. So to see his ashes was a shock. My sister explained that with Zippo, she put the ashes right in the ground, not in the canister and that she would for Papa Bear too, so that he could be with the Earth. That actually made me feel better because Papa loved it outside. Even as a tiny kitten he loved being outside and would escape any chance he got. The vet always said Papa was a breed of wild-cat and he was surprised how well he did being indoors most of the time because it wasn’t in the nature of that type of cat. Here at the house, when he started getting older, he was happy just to go out on the sun porch. He just wanted to be outside, you know. So putting him in the ground felt right.
I used the little red paw-print tin to put his favorite toys in - his Felix doll (though it is Felix #2 because the first one got lost in a move). When he was a kitten, I would say to him, “It’s time for bed, go get Felix,” and he would find that thing wherever it was and drag it to bed, even though it was almost as big as he was. And his pink pig. One of the suede mice he liked to rip the skin off of. His collar and tag. His pillow - they must have gotten 300 of those Humane Society pillows over the years but that was the only one he ever cared about - it was his and he loved it. And of course, his Clyde Frog, who was with him when he went to sleep for the last time. The canister, a framed photo of Papa Bear and his paw-prints are sitting on one of my bedside shelves now.
He was my best boy and I am glad he is resting somewhere that he loves. Now as long as he doesn’t start after-life fights with Zippo.