We’ve known for the past month that our beloved Phil, the sweetest cat in the world, was preparing for his final passage. It almost seemed he was waiting to spend his last days with the boys who grew up with him. Who can know such things? They lavished him with attention in the two weeks they were here for the holidays and he responded with steady purrs and the kitty conversation Phil was known for. He passed away on the evening the full moon rose.
All my students and many folks who came to open studios over the years will remember Phil, because he was the official greeter, happy to receive a neck or belly scratch from all visitors.
I’ve gone back in history to find sketches and paintings of Phil I have posted here on the blog. The above collage is his “official” portrait, hanging in our home along with other beloved pets.
I was never able to sketch or garden in our yard without the company of Phil. He would nudge me to let me know I must give him attention before I could get on with my business.
When I was trimming plants in the garden I would have to take special care not to snip his whiskers or tail, because he couldn’t seem to get close enough and was always talking.
Phil would eventually find a spot on the bench to nap after a long spell of purring.
Phil was a teenager when he adopted us about 17 years ago, just showing up and insisting in no uncertain terms that we belonged to him!
He acquired the habit of throwing himself down suddenly in front of people on our walkway, exposing his belly, with a clear message that he was to receive love before one could proceed.
And then Sylvester showed up, and his devotion to Phil was so complete that even though Phil gave him the message, in no uncertain terms, that this property was his territory, Sylvester persisted. . .and eventually they came to terms with the arrangement and became Phil and Syl, eating, sleeping, and lounging together. When I finally got around to doing Sylvester’s portrait, I knew it would be incomplete without his best friend.
Recently on the cold winter nights when Phil was so weak, Sylvester warmed him with his body and checked on him throughout the day.
This may not be the end of my portrait-making of Phil, though it is the end of Phil, the sweetest cat in the world, who we will never forget! The boys want to plant a tree in the yard for him above where he is buried.
We would love to hear any of your memories of this lovable feline family member!