Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mr. Bradshaw's final nap



Mr. Bradshaw has died. But do not mourn this fine feline! He lived a long life, a good life here at Apifera - well over eleven years which is a long time for a once semi feral stray.

I knew he was dying last night. When I finished barn duties I saw him curled up outside the barn in the compost area. This in and of itself was not normal for any of the barn cats. I reached down to touch him and he didn't move, I nudged him, no movement - also not normal. So I carefully picked him up and he let out one little meow as I carried him to the barn. I wrapped in hay and put him on top of a hay bale and talked to him at length. I asked him if he could stay in the barn to die so I would know for sure of his end, rather than have him creep off somewhere like most of the cats have done. His purr was very weak.

I reminisced with him at length - reminding him of how he first showed up at Apifera back in our first year, 2004. Back then he was not the same mellow fellow he became. When he arrived he was at least one or more and a bit of a bully. In fact, I wasn't that fond of him as he was always picking fights. But over the next couple years, he softened, perhaps realizing he didn't have to fight for food or higher position. He had a warm barn full of hay and there was ample room to avoid confrontations.

In time, he would be part of the gang and would rush out to greet me at morning and night feedings.

So when I said my goodbyes last night, my only wish was he remain in the barn to die.
The next morning I slept in a bit and got to the barn a bit later than normal. I quietly peered into the hay barn first to see the spot where I had left him, but he was gone. Upon entering the hay area, I saw his body on the floor right below where I'd laid him the night before. His mouth was still warm so he had obviously just died.

That part makes me very sad - if I had gone out earlier, I could have held him in those final moments. But he's an independent thinker and like many cats wanted his space. It is we humans who over dramatize death.

I was happy he had such a long life and relieved I finally had a stray that died in eyesight - not knowing exactly what happens to them is hard, so this was a gift. But when I laid him in his grave, I talked to him some more and cried. I wasn't really crying for his death - I was crying because if Mr. Bradshaw died, that means all the Apifera cats are getting closer to their final barn nap too. The youngest of the cats are gong on nine and the elders are older than Bradshaw. His death felt like a turning point of some kind.

Martyn consoled me - "There will always be cats coming and going from here," he said. Maybe not. Maybe Apifera is a place that appeared for me to learn and grow and then one day it will retreat from sight leaving me to move on too.

I took these photos of him, as homage. His body was still soft and all around him were the sounds he knew so well - chickens cooing and scratching, goats chewing and in the distance the ears of a red horse.







14 comments:

Barbara Younger said...

So sad but so sweet. He sounds like a wonderful cat. May he always purr in peace.

Erica of Golden Egg Vintage said...

It seems you have had to say good bye to quite a few Apifera residents over the past months, and I'm so sorry about that. The way you honor and comfort each one of these special little souls though during their final hours is simply beautiful. I don't believe a cat could have a better life...complete with a cozy barn, animal friends, and a kind caretaker to keep an eye out.
Bless You-
Erica

Cathy said...

Oh Katherine, I'm so sorry Mr. B. is gone. But it's good that you got to say goodbye, and lay him to rest.

I learn so much from you about love and loss. Thanks, my dear. Wishing sweet sleep to a beautiful boy.

Mimi said...

I’d like to believe that when someone dies,

they go to a place where they are utterly happy.

My struggling mind finds it hard to grasp reality sometimes,

when I experience the emptiness they leave behind.

But I’ve noticed that this empty space has deep peace to it -

when I don’t attach my stories and just be with it for a while.

The moments spent with them still remain like old treasured pictures.

They are forever mine and are not going anywhere, till I let go of them.

Now and then when sadness approaches,

I notice it closely. I support the child in me that feels sad and let out a big cry.

Because I know, sadness is a gift in disguise.

Once experienced fully, leaves my mind open - questioning it’s own identity.

I don’t know where we came from or who I really am.

But I do know that we are all headed on the path of leaving

this planet in an order that is unpredictable.

Till then I am going to enjoy this life and collect more treasured pictures.

And pray, that one day I shall meet the ones that have departed with open arms.

Mimi said...

I’d like to believe that when someone dies,

they go to a place where they are utterly happy.

My struggling mind finds it hard to grasp reality sometimes,

when I experience the emptiness they leave behind.

But I’ve noticed that this empty space has deep peace to it -

when I don’t attach my stories and just be with it for a while.

The moments spent with them still remain like old treasured pictures.

They are forever mine and are not going anywhere, till I let go of them.

Now and then when sadness approaches,

I notice it closely. I support the child in me that feels sad and let out a big cry.

Because I know, sadness is a gift in disguise.

Once experienced fully, leaves my mind open - questioning it’s own identity.

I don’t know where we came from or who I really am.

But I do know that we are all headed on the path of leaving

this planet in an order that is unpredictable.

Till then I am going to enjoy this life and collect more treasured pictures.

And pray, that one day I shall meet the ones that have departed with open arms.

Lis said...

I too appreciate your words and images and the fact that you honor and share these creatures WHOLE lives which includes this transition ... it seems like so many I know are saying goodbye to old and dear friends ... reminds me to savor each day I have with my beloveds so that when the time comes, I too can say we loved well.

I just shared your story with a dear friend (I think you two could be twins both in spirit and in pigtails) ... the work you do inspires us all. Sweet dreams Mr. B ... i can see you flying off to your next adventure! xo

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Katherine I think Mr. Bradshaw must have felt so comforted after hearing your murmurings to him.
In the barn with his familiars,
I can't think of a much nicer way to meet your maker. Its something that even with an absence of life, you have caught an essence of Mr. B's personality.
As with all your photos and artworks, you get a sense of the animal, some core that can only be known after long acquaintance.

Candace said...

I think it's always nicer when someone can die at home, in the place they feel safe. Still, I'm sorry...I've never had an animal that I felt lived long enough...I always wanted more.

Lisa of Lisa's Little House said...

Beautiful tribute to a friend. Lucky boy to be a cat and take that final earthly nap surrounded by love and understanding.
xxoo,
Lisa

Ellen Bateman Bulterman said...

A lovely and honorable tribute to Mr. Bradshaw. I am always so moved by your strength and kindness. Hugs to you dear friend from across the miles.

Sharon Stanley said...

ah, mr bradshaw was a pretty cat. cats have such independent spirits don't they? still, they find their way into your heart and it's never easy to say goodbye. martyn sounds just like lee...there are always cats coming along looking for a home...and a nice warm barn full of tasty mice.

Sharon Stanley said...

spsooke 2710

Ruth Armitage said...

Our intention is to affirm this life,
not to bring order out of chaos,
nor to suggest improvements in creation,
but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living,
which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind
and desires out of its way
and lets it act of its own accord.


John Cage

Katherine Dunn said...

Thank you all. Ruth, I've never really responded to John Cage work, but that was very nice. Thanks for sharing...

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~