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Saying Goodbye to General Mosby, Kindred Spirit and Partner

To My Dear Friend -

Grief... No time to cry. Not the right time to unleash the feelings of sorrow or understand the reason for loss. Must go on with living.

Mosby, part of my spiritual connection with the rhythms of nature is no more of this world. He left me today at 11:35 am. I held him in my arms for the last time. Stroking his gray furry head, life left him battling a rare disease.

Mosby was my special gray Maine Coon kitten who grew over 12 years to be my personal side kick in pushing the boundaries of personal growth.

We first met on a bright sunny afternoon on the upper side of Jefferson Street in Clinton, in the summer of 2008. Out for an afternoon stroll, from out of nowhere a small gray kitten appeared and wrapped himself around my left ankle with affection and ownership.

Never having had any cats or kittens in my life, I stopped to ponder this small creature who had attached himself to me.

"What do I do?" I asked my wife, Mary.

"Just go with the flow" was her answer.

No, I decided that I did not have the time or feeling for something else in my busy life. So I pushed him away and continued down the rest of the city block to the house on Jefferson Street.

The kitten tracked me down. He presented himself at our front door with his song of hunger and need for care and love. He was desperately looking for a home.

Once I opened the door and stared into his big green cat eyes, something deep inside my frame came forth and opened my heart to this young spirit of gray fur.

From that day onward, the young kitten taught me the proper way to care for a cat. Namely large portions of food watered with equal amounts of love.

Hooked! Somehow the journey of life had sent to me an additional partner to share my experiences.

Three weeks later, Mosby became a brother to another unique spirit. After a weekend away, we came home and found him sad and lonely. He hadn't eaten for the sitter. We decided to find a companion for him.

A friend told us to visit the vet's office in Fulton for a possible match.

As Mary and I walked into the office, a flash of cream and brown jumped from a tech's shoulder where he'd been riding like a pirate's parrot, landing on Mary's shoulder. The Siamese kitten gazed back at us with unwinking blue eyes, was looking like he had just found his future home.

The kitten had been abandoned. While he seemed happy to live at the vet's office, they were trying to find a good home for him.

We all knew a home had been found. The kitten had laid claim to where he wanted to be. He wanted to go home with his new person.

So, now the Potters had a gray and white Maine Coon and cream and brown Siamese kittens. With no names. These two were special. They deserved to have special names. We watched them for a week before the names came to us.

Mary and I have a library of several thousands books, with a generous portion being military histories. So be it, their names came quickly.

First, the Siamese: he didn't move or attack until he sat very still and thought and measured the landscape and opportunities. He very much acted like a young jaguar in motion and timing.

We named him General Rommel. General Rommel of World War II fame was a great military tactician of the North Africa battles of 1941-1942. He was known for his great intelligence in reading a potential battlefield before committing to action. He thought before action. Mary also noted wryly that he didn't follow orders very well.

Second, came the Maine Coon. He was a decisive hunter. When he spotted an opportunity, he moved on instinct with direct action applied to force of attack. Headlong into action like a cavalry officer.

We named him General Mosby. We promoted Mosby to general ranking because we could. He was in command.

His namesake, John Mosby was actually a Confederate colonel in the Civil War. Mosby was attached to Jeb Stuart's cavalry. He was a brilliant leader who raided the Union Army with great cunning and success. Often he attacked in hours and conditions when others were in shelter. He had limited resources but used them in brilliant unconditional tactics.

Mosby and I bonded through many adventures together. One bright summer day, he and I were working in the front yard with Mary on landscaping. Mosby was intent on making new "friends" with the birds of the yard.

I didn't notice that for a long time he was quiet. When I turned to check on him, I was shocked to be two feet from a very big and ugly snake. What saved my day was that Mosby captured it in his mouth and was fighting it before it got to me. He exhausted the snake to the point it crawled away, abandoning the field.

It was this time that I discovered the world of the camera. I told myself that it was ok to spent $900 dollars on a Canon camera with long range lens. Armed with this expensive man toy, I started on my journey of trial and error photography.

At first I shot photos of the yard, of the house, and of Mary's gardens. (Since those days I now have racked up some 7,000 photos.) Mosby was at my side on most of my earlier experimentation learning how to work the camera.

He loved to eat. He would spread his whole body over the food dish. He didn't leave until every morsel was gone. The Siamese was the exact opposite. He would circle the bowl to make sure the food wasn't going to jump out and bite him. I tried to watch them eat to make sure Mosby didn't eat his brother's food - more often than not, he would outstay me and finish up Rommel's plate.

I learned the hard lesson to guard people food too. Mosby showed a spirit of fine taste in food judgment.

One afternoon, Mary and I felt the house shake and than heard a loud sound coming the kitchen. Thinking the worst had happened with something in the kitchen exploding, we rushed in to see what had happen.

We found a seven pound pot roast sitting on the floor, in the paws of Mosby.

I could almost see the thought bubble over his head. "What me? No way. It must have been an earthquake that knocked this hunk of meat into my arms."

Our Mosby had jumped onto the kitchen counter and dragged the pot roast that was almost as big as he was, over the side and down to the floor. We caught him in that moment when he was about to have a great dinner.

He liked nothing better than to sit by me on the floor, waiting for me to pet him or to curl up on the footstool by my chair. We would both take good snoozes on quiet afternoons.

Sadly, he and I will not be on any more adventures together. I am sure I will always feel his spirit as now part of who I am to be in the future.

We as humans often forget how to slow down and be as one with our immediate personal space for living. Often it is the task of love that these small hearts reach up to us with unwavering love to make our life that much more enriched. They teach us humor, dignity and offer love in place for those special moments of our attention to who they are.

In many ways, these special friends teach us how to be better humans. End of story!

I am a better person for having General Mosby as my friend, my companion, and my connection to the rhythms of each day. He traveled with me into a world where each minute of the day reflected open doorways into new experiences.

Mosby, as I say good bye to you, friend, may you be cat heaven, playing in a constant summer of flowers and photographs.

Now I will mourn, will cry, will remember the good times we shared.

With love, Ivan

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