Saturday, February 4, 2012

Only Because I Don't Know What His Birthday Was

Oolie and part of his posse, 2003.

The Black Freighter left port three years ago today.

Both Mrs. Fort and I are ailurophiles, and we make no bones about it. (One of the very first things she ever said to me, in fact, was "Do you like cats?" My life would have been very different had my answer been at all different from what it was.) We think that all cats' personalities are fascinating, and that's the quality that keeps us buying lint rollers by the case more than any other. Sure, some of them are cute and cuddly -- but by no means all of them. But every single one of them is fascinating.

None more so than Oolie, the Black Freighter.

But, selfish fellow that I am, this post won't involve specific memories of him (as my friend Chris Clarke did so well yesterday for Zeke.) It has to do with me and a gathering discomfort about marking his death annually, the same discomfort that has stopped me from noting in this space the anniversary of an entirely different kind of loss. Enough time has gone by now that the shock has worn off (though we still see him at the periphery of our vision once in a while), and what we're left with is a lasting smile. That seems like cause for celebration, and the anniversary of his sudden death kind of works against that.

If we knew what his birthday was, what to do would be easy: just celebrate that. But the best we can come up with is "probably sometime in early 1995." Or we could do something akin to what my father's eldest sister did. When she was a child, she secretly chose one date to be her "Happy Day," and vowed to herself that all day on that date she would be happy and do happy things no matter what might be going on. And she did. She kept it secret from everybody until she was in her 84th and final year, when she told me about April 4th in a letter.

Instead, I think I'll go about it less randomly. I think I'll designate the exact opposite side of the orbit to be my Oolie Day from now on. Expect to see another picture of the Black Freighter here on August 5th.

Natural attraction: reaching for a jar of "Cuban Mojo Mustard" in 2008.



Chris Clarke said...

My ex- and I actually chose February 14 as Zeke's arbitrary birthday, because duh. But it doesn't work so well as a date to spend time thinking of a dead puppy.

Your aunt sounds like a brilliant woman.

ronnie said...

Veronica's anniversary was January 24. We spoke of it to each other but although I thought about it, I decided I didn't want to post about it. We all respond to these things in our own way, and the way you respond any given day is the right way, I guess.

I have appreciated the annual reminders about Oolie, but you are right, noting the anniversary of the passing lends a greater air of sadness to the reminiscence. I think I will enjoy your posts marking his "unniversary" even more - just a day to celebrate and remember the magnificent feline that was and will always be The Black Freighter.