My time at the House of the Seasons has come to an end. My body became sick and despite all efforts, did not recover. But I wanted to tell you how wonderful my life was and express my thoughts in a final letter.
My first human was a soldier who was called to duty in Afghanistan. I was proud he served our country. He left me in the care of a friend, but I was devastated to lose the only dad I knew and loved. Turkish Van cats like me have only one human, and we are devoted to that person. So, I ran away in sadness and frustration.
After a month on the streets of Jefferson, a strange thing happened. A woman with a kind and loving face drove by and picked me up and then took me to her home. She fed me, brushed me, and sprayed me to get rid of all the fleas and bugs on my white coat. I was finally home, and I never left again.
She let me roam all over a beautiful house—and not just any house: but the House of the Seasons. Every day, my mom, Shirley, brought me with her to meet new people and to tell the story of this grand home. I became the princess of the palace, a job I loved. I patrolled the gardens making sure all was safe from unwanted creatures. It was a great joy to share this wonderful historic home with so many guests, even the old grouches who didn’t like cats. Thank you to everyone who pet me, gave me human food (my favorite), and told me how beautiful and special I was. You were right!
I was honored to make a museum more personal and warm. I loved jumping on the historic furniture no one else got to sit on, especially the red settees that came from Wyalusing Plantation in Marshall, Texas. My mom always tried to keep me off of them, but I was smart and sneaky. That grouping of furniture survived a move from Tennessee by wagon in 1848, sinking during a storm on Caddo Lake in 1849, a fiery meeting of Confederate Generals in May 1865, plus normal wear and tear. Sadly, it survived me, but I know I left my paw on it.
Thank you to all the guests for allowing me to show you the House I loved. Most importantly, I thank my mom for saving me and being my best friend and companion for many years. She was the great joy of my life and taught me how to be a princess (which of course, came naturally to me). I lived nine lives I would have only dreamed about if not for my mom and the many guests and friends I made. I was honored to receive more Christmas cards than the House did!
I hope and believe we have made the House of the Seasons a special place, and I was a small, furry, and important part of that experience. I loved meeting all of you, and while I cannot say goodbye to you individually, please accept my love and thanks from your good friend.
My last wish is for you to save an animal like me, to give and understand the love that can be shared.
Pat Conroy is the bestselling author of “South of Broad”, Beach Music, The Great Santini and many more books.
Melissa is the author of Poppy’s Pants (a Children’s Book) and the designer of the Woo Dolls for sick children.
Pat was a guest in the presidential suite two years in a row.
One of my duties at the House of the Seasons is to lead our guests on a tour of the house. In every room we visit, I weave in and out through the crowd of feet, maybe running against a leg or two, before showing off the best perch in the room.
One of my other duties is to oversee breakfast. I stand guard and make sure everyone is enjoying their meal. Should anything fall to the floor, well, I make sure it’s cleaned up post haste.
I take both of these duties seriously and I love interacting with our guests. I’ll happily accept a scratch behind the ears or a pet along my back as acknowledgement for a job well done, but please, leave my feet on the floor. I’m too mature and dignified to be picked up like a spring kitten. A lady has her limits, afterall.
I like to consider myself a pretty easy-going feline. I know what I like and when I like it, and I expect humans to respect and adhere to my wishes. Simple, right? So imagine my surprise when, one day last week, three of my least favorite events coincided!
Firstly, I do not like the sound of the lawn mower. Put yourself in my shoes, or rather in my ears. What is loud to a human is a cacophony of abrasive noise to me. The grinding of the mower going up and down the lawn is not something I enjoy. When it’s grumbling over the landscape, I stay inside.
Secondly, I have a strong dislike of the bug man. He comes every so often under the pretense of keeping unwanted pests off the property, but I’m onto him. That khaki jumpsuit screams “cat catcher” and that little sprayer is clearly a torture device. When he comes into the house, I keep my distance by laying low in the yard.
So, imagine my horror when the lawn mowers and the bug man arrived on the same day. I couldn’t hide inside away from the mowers or outside away from the bug man! Trapped as I was, I did what any clever cat would do: I climbed up to hide in the chimney!
I was pretty proud of myself and thought I’d shown great resourcefulness in evading the mower and the bug man. When I finally came down from the chimney, however, I didn’t get the praise I expected. Instead, I had to endure the third of my least favorite things: a BATH!
I’m still in a forgiveness period with Mom. A few more back scratches and all will be forgiven.