Godspeed, Lone Ranger

Monday, March 7, 2011

He wandered into our garage more than a decade ago and took up residence in the seat of my grandfather's old Cub Cadet riding lawn mower.  At first, we weren't going to encourage him.  But then Mom couldn't stand to see him go hungry, so she set out bowls of food in the garage.  When it got cold, a folded towel in the seat gave him somewhere to snuggle.  And soon, there was a cat bed for him to weather the weather.  Before many months passed, he breached the threshold between indoors and out because it was just too cold to leave him outside anymore.  And so he became officially ours.

My brother dubbed him Lone Ranger because of the dark fur that circled his clear (though slightly crossed) blue eyes.  He was put together by a committee that couldn't agree using parts that were rejected from everyone else - a too-skinny tail, short bandy legs, and a purr that had a hitch in the giddy-up.  He wore the same expression every moment of every day, forever and ever amen.  And his unerring ability to live by a schedule, his particularity about his place in the world, and his lifelong belief that by taking his picture, I would steal his soul, earned him the descriptor of "special kitty."  Ranger, it seemed, needed to be handled with care and came with his own special instructions.

Ranger was a poor fighter, missing a bite of skin out of one ear and a toe off one foot, making his nickname "Ranger Danger" all the more ironic.  His compromised immune system was constantly challenged by bites and scratches until Mama saw fit to just keep him inside all the time.  We battled through countless oral infections and finally pulled almost all his teeth, but he still insisted on eating his morning treats.  I guess he gummed them to death.

Today, we lost our battle with the final infection.  It was time.  Time to let Lone Ranger ride off into the sunset.  I will miss his yowling meow at the door demanding to be let out.  I will miss his swaying gait across the kitchen that made it so easy to imagine he was saying, "dumpity-dump-dee-dum-dum" as he went.  I will miss his soft snores from the chair or the back of the couch.  I will miss the intensity with which he used the cardboard scratcher.  I will miss his straight-legged resistance when picked up and his complete indignation when kissed.

I will miss our sweet Ranger Cat.


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