Dillon had to leave us today. It was time.
He was the beneficent ruler of the farm and its environs. He bowed to none and all paid homage to him...even the fox.
He greeted all who came to the farm...guests, workmen, delivery people. They were all HIS guests. He devilled more than one worker by stretching out on the hood or roof of their vehicle and he could not be persuaded to get down, sometimes even as the person drove down the drive. My heart stopped more than once to see him atop a pickup truck roof headed for the road.
He took one mate in his life and remained loyal to her memory to the end. They were each other's shadow while together. Often, in winter, they would sit shoulder to shoulder looking out the barn feedroom's south facing window, basking in the sun and each other.
My garden thrived under his watchful eye. No squirrel dared come close and I wouldn't be surprised if he kept the deer away too. Voles and field mice were regularly left at the front door as love offerings. The barn was free of pigeons and rats. Raccoons rarely sighted.
More than once I saw him walk a fence top to get onto a horse's back. The crabbiest of the horses on the farm never objected and let Dillon sit as long as he wished on their warm rump.
He had an ancient soul. Wisdom shown out from his eyes and he carried himself with quiet authority. It was child's play for him to convert the most ardent non-cat lover to a loyal fan. I saw it many, many times.
In the last few years of his dotage, he was granted his heart's desire...to be a house cat. He conducted himself with all gentlemanly manners, I think his polite way of thanking us for the privilege of a soft cushion and warm spot to sleep away the days. His claws stayed sheathed and he bowed to the resident cats and dog with all deference. There was only one incident when Remy decided it would be fun to play with Dillon by pretended to bite him. The only movement I saw on Dillon's part was a very slight movement of his ears and a narrowing of his eyes. Remy froze mid-leap. Game over.
In the end, because we travelled so much, Amelia, Tony and especially Eliana took him in and made sure he knew he was loved. They are special to me for that kindness.
So tonight, when you raise your glass, please say a small toast...