Sunday, August 24, 2008

Part 5 of 5: His job complete, Romeo takes his leave

This is the lid to Romeo's coffin. It was painted by Diane Benson herself, with love; a work of art to be viewed just one time and then to be put into the earth, to become earth, as will he who lies inside.

The day is Saturday, September 15, 2007. The place: Chugiak, Alaska. Five years earlier, when Romeo was 13, his vet declared him to be terminally ill, with no more than four days left to live. This was an absolute diagnosis. There was to be no hope, whatsoever, but Romeo had a job to do, so he stuck around and did it.

Although without his legs, Latseen is now strong and fit. Diane has been brought through the darkest days of her life and now has new tasks that she must accomplish.

Sweet Romeo - free to take his leave.

Pallbearer Tony Vita leads the funeral procession into the woods behind Diane's house. From my observations, Tony is a rock for Diane; he is a rock for his stepson, Latseen. As he loves the woman, so too did he love her cat.

Funeral services begin.

Diane shares a happy memory of Romeo.

Rose Albert, good friend and exceptionally close sister to the late Howard Albert, the man who took Diane and three-year-old Latseen over the frozen Yukon River on the boy's first dog-mushing trip. In 1982, Rose became the first Alaska Native woman to run the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, 1300 miles from Anchorage to Nome. Rose is Athabascan, raised in the Yukon River village of Ruby.

She is also painter of fine art - in my opinion, as fine as is being produced by any artist living in Alaska.

Richard Gulbraa, Diane's brother, shares a memory of Romeo. All present share their memories.

Diane holds the toy mouse that was Romeo's favorite possession and speaks of how he liked to play with it. (Please remember, if you click on these tiny images, they will enlarge so that you can better see what they actually look like.)

The mouse will go into the earth with Romeo.

A prayer for Romeo.

Diane's final touch.

Romeo takes his place in the earth.

Tony and Dennis, a brother to Diane, give their flowers to Romeo.

Diane passes her sunflower to Romeo.

Romeo is buried.

Sad? Yes, but think what Romeo did! The vet told him he couldn't do it, but he did it, anyway. That's something to be happy about.

Eighteen years - short, but still a good long life for a cat.


heidi said...

This leaves me teary but more because I was touched by the love Diane and friends showed to Romeo. I see now that Romeo really hung on for a long time after the diagnosis. He looked peaceful.

heidi said...

Could you write about the happy memory that Diane shared about Romeo too please?

Hope you're feeling better Mr. Kracker.

JP said...

What an amazing cat.

And a fitting farewell to such a generous friend. He reminds me of our cat Leah, who always sensed when a human was sad and would sit on their lap to comfort them.

Jane said...

Romeo was a wonderful cat. What a lovely way to say goodbye to him.

Grahamn Kracker said...

Heidi -

I will do as you request, but I will wait awhile. While I recall the basics of what Diane said, I don't trust my memory enough to tell that story without first talking to Diane, and, with Primary election so close, she is too busy campaigning to do anything else.

jp and Jane - Thank you for the comments!

Standtall said...

I was really touched by this story. I am about to cry...
Rest in peace sweet Romeo. You were a blessing to Daine

I really love the burial conducted for him. His spirit wld rejoice

ntiviv said...

What a brilliant, sweet, intuitive cat you were. Your strength of will inspires me.

Debby said...

Oy. Now've you've got me weeping...