Monday, January 02, 2012

Flavius Lemley - A Tribute

As many of you may have read on John's Facebook or have heard from us, Flavius has passed away.  He was a wonderful pet who had a full life.  I'm writing this to share with you, but mostly for Maximo and Lola when they get older.

When John and I moved to Peru, we had just "lost" a cat (Lucy) and John's stepbrother took Max (the Cat), since there was an embargo on flying him in the summer to Peru and because we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into with international teaching.  After getting settled into our new environment, we realized something was missing from our home - a CAT!  Another teacher from school had been feeding and finding other teachers cats from behind a church in our neighborhood where there were many stray/abandoned cats that were fed by a rotation of people in the area.

John and I went with her one evening in hopes of finding a kitten to take home.  Armed with a can of tunafish and a zippered mesh bag, we went to the park behind the church.  All of the kittens were too skittish and wouldn't come near us, but an older looking orange tabby plopped himself on our laps, with really no interest in the food, but more interested in the attention.  We took that as a sign, and decided to take him with us.  We only lived about two blocks from the park, but we decided that with all the hustle bustle of traffic and people, that he may freak out if we tried to just carry him home.  So, we stuffed him in the bag and hailed a taxi.  He howled the whole way home and John and I just exchanged apprehensive looks at one another.

As cats do, he stayed under a bed for a few days, but was eating and used the litter box without instruction.  Our wild "street" kitty seemed to me more of an abandoned pet.  He was very comfortable with people and was litter box trained.  We also thought he was about 7 or 8 months old, but after his first vet visit, we were told he was probably 7 or 8 years old, he was just a bit underfed.

Why did we name him Flavius you might ask?  Not really Peruvian.  We were watching the HBO Series, Rome.  So we were tossing around a lot of Roman names like Marc Antony, Auralius, etc.  Then we thought of Flavius, meaning "blonde" in ancient Roman.  It just seemed to fit... and we lovingly called him Flavor Flav or Flavi!

Flavius was pampered in Peru.  Our maid, Clara would be in our house every day, continually giving him attention as she went about her work.  When we moved to our house in Peru, he was able to go outside again, which he LOVED.  He often scrapped with the other neighborhood cats (in the middle of the night), but otherwise was a joy to have around.  He would plop down on our laps as soon as we sat on the couch to relax, grade papers, check email, whatever.  Soon after moving, our first maid's sister, Rosmery, started working for us.  She LOVES this cat.  I came home one day to her mopping the floor with him zipped up in her fleece!  She was always so sweet with him and even emails to ask about him and the kids since we moved to Japan.  It was really hard to write her the email this week of Flavius's passing.

Flavius had a good life in Peru and loved Maximo from the day he came home.  He was always loving and super tolerant of the kids' rough play.

He was so special to Maximo, so we decided that he should come to Japan with us.  Unfortunately, getting animals into Japan is a huge and expensive process, but he was worth it!  So, we followed all the rules and vaccine schedules so he could come live with us in Kobe.  He had to go directly from Peru to Japan, so a good friend watched him and got him on a plane to come here.

Life's been a little different for Flavius here...  Our place is much smaller, but luckily, we are on the first floor, so he could still go in and out.  He was alone all day - the horror!  But, he was still loved and happy here, with again, an occasional scrap with a Rokko Island stray.

A few days before we left for Thailand, we noticed that he had been sleeping a lot and not going out almost at all, which was very unlike him.  He also wasn't plowing through his bowl-a-day either.  He was still acting normal besides this.  Then, before we left, he was looking a bit skinny and his fur just looked like he wasn't keeping up with his grooming.  We had a lady watch/feed Flavius and he just didn't come back one day.

This is very unlike Flavius.  He always went out, but he ALWAYS came home.  So, like most cats do, we think he wanted to find a quiet last resting place.  Unfortunately, we cannot find that place.  He is definitely not in the house, but we've looked (as has the cat sitter) pretty extensively around our apartment complex and the areas close to us.  It makes it sadder that we don't really know where he is...  it kind of leaves it with a lot less closure.  We still have the litter box and food out, in hopes that he will walk back on the porch again, although I think we all know that he will not come back.  We're also a bit wary of someone else finding his decaying body somewhere too.  This island is not that big.

It was our first "death" talk with Maximo.  He didn't even notice Flavius wasn't around for two days after we got back, as he was wrapped up in Christmas and his new toys.  Then he just looked at me and said, "Mommy, where's Flavius?"
I tried to explain the best that I could...  a real parenting challenge.
He sobbed, so I cried.  He couldn't understand how/why Flavius couldn't/wouldn't come back.
Finally, he just said, "Mommy, can we just get him new batteries?"
Everything in Maximo's life that has "died" has been easily fixed with a new set of batteries.  Sad and sweet.

So, Flavius, we'll miss you buddy.  You were a great cat to us and definitely to our little munchkins.   You will always hold a special place in our hearts.

I was actually a bit surprised to find tons - at least a hundred pictures that Flavius was in...  Here are some good ones:


Celia said...

We'll miss you, Flav.

Lilian said...

I just found out. I'm sorry to hear that :( he'll be missed