Thursday, June 26, 2014

End of an Era

ASHEVILLE - Chester Thompson, also affectionately known as: Chesteroni, My Mister, Mouth, Mouthy, Mouthy Cat, Chet, & Chessercat, of Asheville, NC passed away peacefully Wednesday, June 25th attended to by his vet and two loving parents, after a brief illness. He was 14 years old.

Born into a litter of 6 in a Canton, NY barn, Chester was rescued from barn-cat life by a succession of Thompson family members, eventually becoming the full-time fur baby of Kira Thompson, originally of Saranac Lake, NY.

Chester enjoyed a quiet rural upbringing in the northern Adirondack Mountains, sharing, for more than a decade, a small home with his sister and mother. There, he enjoyed chasing tethered balls and laser lights as well as bugs, mice, and the occasional squirrel. Winters being frigid so far North, he and his family were great fans of long, snuggly naps. It was during these naps that he cultivated the habit of holding his mother’s finger with his paw, as well as perfecting many creative human-waking techniques such as yowling in the face, headbutting, jumping on full-bladdered abdomens, and pawing at the face, ears, & hair.

Later in life, in addition to successfully uprooting to North Carolina, Chester took on many new challenges. He grudgingly tolerated being driven from his native northern climes to the mountains 900 miles away in a rented Nissan Altima. Subsequently, he only slightly impatiently endured one roundtrip journey to visit the old homestead, during which he came to appreciate hotel rooms and the luxurious roominess of a mini-van. He overcame his fear of children to happily co-habitate with human-sisters Maris & Gillian, whom he periodically invited to pet him. Chester learned about stairs and embraced central air conditioning with gusto. 

These late-in-life changes, combined with a cat-walking phase inspired by his mother’s purchase of a fancy harness in Thailand, may have awakened a wild spirit in him, as, in his golden years,  Chester was known to take on surprising levels of adventure. He relished taunting and physically confronting his much younger adopted fur-brother, Ozzie, who, as a canine, outweighed him by at least 50 pounds. Chester also set forth, unannounced, on a 3-week sojourn in the wilds surrounding the Smoky Mountain National Forest near his new home in Asheville. Whether in search of  meditative self-discovery or sheer thrills, no one ever was told of his whereabouts or experiences during that absence.

Upon returning, Chester, as was his nature, recovered physically and calmly returned to peaceful domesticity. His final years were spent enjoying the fruits of a well-spent life. Among his greatest pleasures were sharpening his claws on the  cardboard affectionately dubbed his ‘scratchy slut’ or surreptitiously spying on birds from a windowsill perch – especially if the window was open. Many sunny afternoons were spent on his extra wide windowsill cat perch soaking up the sun, just gazing at the nearby bird feeder. Chester was all about spreading the love (and fur). He graced each family member equally by regularly ensconcing himself in their personal spaces. Some favorites included: curling up against the pillows of his mothers’ (ivory linened) bed, coiling at the foot of Gillian’s bed closest to the window, and hunkering beneath the blanket-draped papasan chair in Maris’ room. He very much enjoyed slurping the gravy off of his daily treat of canned food at “breakfast time”. Chester will be fondly remembered for loudly and emphatically declaring ‘breakfast time” at any hour he damn well pleased by climbing on his sleeping mother’s chest, yowling and headbutting her face. 

Perhaps the most precious memories will be of Chesteroni insistently signaling bedtime by demanding his 3-5 second nightly pet session while posed upon his mother’s chest. He would then curl up beside her head, in the nest she strategically constructed every night of their lives together. A body pillow set at just the right distance from and angle to her own pillow formed a sacred space, lined with a fresh fur-catching cloth, where he slept nightly, not one breath from her.

Chester was predeceased by his beloved sister, Smooch (aka: Peepee) with whom he shared a home in Sugarbush, NY for her 11 years of life. He is survived by human-sisters Maris and Gillian; fur-brother, Ozzie; adopted Mama, Mary Lynn; and his Mommy, Kira as well as innumerable loving friends along the east coast and throughout cyber space.

In keeping with his characteristic charm, Chester passed on wearing his accustomed tuxedo with white whiskers. He no doubt would have liked to express appreciation to his maternal grandparents: Bob & Janet Simonson, of Saranac Lake, NY and Rick Thompson, of Lake Clear, NY for their loving care of him throughout his life. Thanks also to his many caregivers and friends, especially: Carey Cook, Dr. Cindy Feiler, Kelley Mihok, Jessica Pepper, Dr. Heather Sinclair, Eric Thompson, Meiko Xavier, and the caring staff at Haw Creek Animal Hospital.

An intimate honoring ceremony will take place this Friday evening at Papa’s & Beer on Tunnel Road in Asheville. Memorial services will take place in both Asheville and Saranac Lake at future dates yet to be decided. Memorial donations are suggested to: Asheville Humane Society, 14 Forever Friend Lane, Asheville, NC 28806. (828) 761-2001

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