On Friday afternoon last week our cat Jazz had yet another crisis and I made the sad, but mercy filled decision to have him euthanased. He was 15.5 years old and had been suffering increasingly from arthritis and associated health problems.
Lucy, the vet at our friendly and very caring vet clinic had tried everything to assist him maintain a reasonable quality of life as an indoor, pampered cat but sadly since Easter her efforts and our diligent care was becoming increasingly less effective.
I have returned to the many, many photos we have and they offer a wonderful record of this sociable, outgoing, vigorous, adventurous, friendly, funny cat who survived many escapades, gave us worrying times but who adored us and was a constant source of fun, laughter and love.
Jazz outlived his brother PG by just over two years. We got the kittens in 1999 and they grew to be adults who very happily co-existed.
The following photos tell something of why Jazz is so sorely missed now.
Maori (New Zealand’s indigenous peoples) have a concept Turangawaewae.
Tūrangawaewae is one of the most well-known and powerful Māori concepts. Literally tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home.
Since the death of both my parents and now more recently the death of my brother, the place of my first months of life has increasingly become my Turangawaewae.
On a recent visit to Greytown, Wairarapa I went down River Road that leads from the house I lived in to the banks of the Waiohine River.
The river was grey-blue and running reasonably fast due to rain falling in the nearby mountains.
The trees on the banks were in autumn colours but the white light and heavy cloud dimmed those on this visit.
My mountain was somewhere amidst these mists.
The rain was falling steadily but it was a time to pause and reflect, to absorb the feelings of connection, and foundation.
A place to draw strength from this land beneath my feet and then continue along my life’s road.
On 12th April 2014 my brother, four years my junior, died suddenly and unexpectedly.
This very apt piece was read out at his funeral:
Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with a word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?
This last rose of autumn, decaying on its stem was in the garden at the Funeral Home. It symbolises a lot for me.
Rivers are often used as metaphors for life or perhaps how we need to live life. Simply put -to go with the flow, avoid stagnation, ride out the white water, enjoy the journey.
I’ve been reflecting on what has been on my mind these past few days and find that there are a good many people who are important to me who find themselves in rough and uncharted waters right now. I hope I can offer them support through my words and attention as life moves them on in the care of health professionals and the possibility of different ways of living in the future.
Others are feeling in side streams, away from the flow that they would like in their lives. I wonder if time and encouragement will assist them?
Another is feeling the effects of deep currents from the past and is struggling to clear those. Perhaps forgiveness can help in these situations?
Then one or two are in whirlpools where the water and force spinning and sucking at them have left them feeling drained, bewildered and grief stricken. Love and a listening, attentive ear are often the best we can offer.
I have also been flowing through steady, calm and pleasant water when we celebrated two birthdays and a belated third one last week. I need times of refreshment like this to remind me that there are easy parts of the journey.
And later today I hit the high adventure section of the river when I care for my boisterous, agile, funny, delightful two year old grandson. There will be no stagnant pools or much in the way of gentle flow but there will be excitement, laughter, energy and new channels to explore together:-)