Book Excerpt Ming’s Crossing

Excerpt, Crossing the Rainbow Bridge by Colleen Nicholson.

“I see my sister. It is good to see her again, but I’m not near her yet. She has told me that I do not have to come back again like this, so I will take my time before I go…

Thank you for being in my home, for the honor and respect that have always been mine, for the friends that you have given to me, for the dignity that you helped me maintain. Thank you for my solid (physical) life and know that I take you with me to my longer one (soul).

These words began a message from Ming just hours before his body finally gave up and his vet helped him to cross over. It had been three years since he had almost died from kidney disease, three years more than they had expected to have with him.

As he spoke, he was showing me a beautiful, all-white cat with blue eyes wearing an electric-blue collar around her neck. I wasn’t sure if blue was something she just wore in the world beyond ours into which Ming was about to enter, but Georgia remembered that Ming did indeed once have a white sister with blue eyes. She had died a few years before. It seemed that she had come to welcome him home.

I was fairly new to doing animal communications for the public the night I met Ming and his family for our first conversation. It was a night I will always remember, not for the conversation itself as much for the tremendous feelings of respect that they all had for one another. Ming was not just the family cat to this family; he was a genuine, intelligent, respected family member, holding no less importance than anyone else was. 
”Ming,” Georgia would say, “is not a cat, he’s a furry person, and, he’s my best friend in the world.”

Although this in itself is not that rare, the fact that Ming felt the same way toward them amazed me. It was a mutual relationship, one hundred percent.
Living in the lap of feline luxury, Ming enjoyed a big house in the country where every window he looked out of surrendered to him a beautiful scene. From back windows he could see the woods behind his home where he could watch the local wildlife that Georgia eagerly feeds. The front windows issued forth a scene of rolling hills, which were usually dotted with grazing thoroughbred horses. These views for a cat to ponder were a big, yet welcomed, change from Staten Island home they had recently moved from. And Ming seemed quite the contented and personable cat, appreciative of all his life had to offer, in spite his declining health.

Although he would be plagued with nightly hydration on the kitchen counter, Georgia had once told me how Ming would hop up there himself and wait on his towel for her. “He’d stand there patiently, and he’d know when his treatment was just about over,” she had said. “Then, when nearing his goal hydration point, he’d start to become a bit restless, as if to say, ‘Okay, I’m all set now, Mom.’ Then off he’d go in search of a place to relax, while he pondered some of life’s mysteries. At his age, he seemed to have graduated from the playfulness some cats never tire of.”

Georgia and Jim credited Ming’s vet with doing a miraculous job at helping him keep a certain level of health as his kidneys failed over that three-year span. The most wonderful thing about it was that Ming maintained a quality life. Despite blood tests and frequent veterinary visits, he never once resisted getting in the car to go, and never gave anyone at the vet’s office a hard time either. He was truly a gentleman all the way.

At one point in our relationship, I was asked to help when Ming’s friend Pasha suddenly became ill and died. Even though Ming was adored by Georgia’s mom and dad, who lived with them in their house in a downstairs apartment, it was a sad time for him. He no longer had a companion, one of his own kind, to spend the days with while Georgia and Jim were at work. Even though Pasha had been a fearful cat, spending most of his time hiding, Ming really loved his buddy and would surely miss his friend. So, when Pasha crossed over Georgia thought that perhaps Ming should get some new feline friends to enjoy, friends that could help keep his grief to a minimum so that it would not overtake him and jeopardize what health he had held onto.

Frosty and SmokeyWhen Frosty and Smokey came to live with Ming it was quite a change in their household. Nothing like a baby to shake up routines and two babies are even more unpredictable. From the start I figured that the “Project Manager” in Georgia, a position she holds in the real world, would be able to handle this with no problem, after all she is the most organized person I know. With her experience from Corporate America tucked under her fashionable belt, I figured she was an equal match for a couple of little kittens. However, everyone was in for a surprise, everyone but Ming, that is.
These two tiny balls of fur filled the house with activity and gave rise to many amazing tales.

From the start, Smokey was the athlete. He spent his days dashing here and there, perfecting his muscle mass, of which he was quite proud, while Frosty, his petite and delicate sister, stuck like glue to Ming. She would sit and stare at him constantly, obviously intrigued by his majestic persona, rarely straying but never getting too close. Instinctively the kittens understood that Ming was the unchallenged king of this pride. He got special treatment and special food, and the kittens never seemed to question this or feel left out. They knew that Ming was always fed first, and they would patiently await theirs. And, Frosty seemed ever intrigued when Ming would get his evening hydration, watching in awe from a distance. Even in the cat world, Ming was respected, and he in turn taught them much while looking down at the kittens as if he were a wise old lion who’d seen it all.

Georgia had made plans to retire in the fall, looking forward to spending the winter at home with her whole family instead of in another winter commute. In retirement, she hoped every morning could be like her Sunday mornings now, when she could turn on the stereo, crank up her old movie show tunes and dance through the house with a cat in arms ~ while Jim was out running errands, of course. However, Ming could not wait that long. He died on Memorial Day weekend.

As hard a loss as losing Ming was, this heart breaking blow was softened some by the rest of the message he shared with us just shortly before crossing over: 

”I will be here when your work is done and I will make new plans with you until fall. It is important for me to stay for you now and then to leave for Smokey. It will be his job to do as I did, and he will be very happy for the time and opportunity to be the wisest cat. Grandpa will tell you, “Our Smokey is a very wise cat now, Georgi.” And Smokey will tell you important things, and he will tell Grandpa secret things. He won’t be afraid to be the oldest cat anymore.

Frosty

“Frosty is my beautiful cat who I will always see. She will be a strong cat, stronger than she is now. You will always know that you can talk to Frosty and she will talk back. She will be Grandma’s favorite girl and Frosty will give her many silent laughs.

“My Daddy will miss me very much, but it will be with smiles. He will see me first when I return, and I will be with Pasha one more time. 
This is a happy time ~ a time of wonderment and joy, a time of peacefulness and life, a time of giving back what we have received. Put it on my rock, Daddy. Put it on our Celebration Rock.
“You have been my mother since you looked at me the first time. This picture is in my heart, too. Please sing to me. We are happiest when you sing your songs. There are no words here that I can say. Words are only shadows of what you are: My other Mother.

Dapple and gray, 
Dogs that will bay…
Kittens that mew,
Cats that sing, too…
Horses of beauty,
Birds of great song…
Ming is not gone!
We are not alone…
Just Ming has gone home.
Ming of Donovan
The Happy Cat”

Ming’s presence still is felt in the Donovan household, and when Georgia is enduring a difficult time, he is always there to offer his wisdom on the situation, which is always gratefully accepted.

Smokey has truly turned into the king of their pride, and Frosty is a strong cat, despite her sensitiveness to the feelings of those around her.

Bentley our "baby" Himalayan, now 15Bentley has joined the indoor crew, and although he resembles Ming in coloring and breed, he certainly is a different cat. As the “baby” of the family, even at 3 years old, now he’s the most active and the most verbal, and who is always looking for a good game of ball. 
”I know that Ming will wait for me,” she say, and I believe she is right.

As new animal friends come and go through their lives, and whether they live inside or out, each has their own special piece of Georgia’s heart… but I believe that whether they be peanut or Panda sized, Ming’s piece, will always remain the biggest.

I think of these things every time I go to visit Georgia and Jim and the menagerie of animals they still share their lives with. Whether I look out over the rolling hills that are dotted with grazing thoroughbred horses, or I watch the wildlife feeding from the salad bar in the back yard that Georgia prepares daily for the woodchucks and others who come to visit, I always think of Ming. And always, before I leave, I bend down to touch his celebration rock, while in my own heart I celebrate ~ in his honor ~ all who respect each other, no matter the species, no matter their place in life.

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