When we moved from England to Florida eighteen years ago Wendy’s office was beside a state park, and the park policy for stray cats was to give them three days to charm someone into taking them home, and if that failed, kill them.
Beulah took a strategic nap on the hood of Wendy’s car, and became part of our life. She eventually moved with us to Big Stone Gap along with our Scottish cat Valkyttie, and our dogs Bert and Zora.
She started by patrolling our bookstore, willing to share these duties with Valkyttie, but the two never got along, so Beulah regularly went outside as well. We think Valkyttie’s jealousy started when Beulah got featured in the Kingsport Times as the bookstore cat as Wendy’s first book came out. The photo garnered a lot of attention and for years we had people enter the bookstore demanding to see Beulah, bringing her treats, etc. Understandably, Valkyttie took this hard, since she was the senior member of the feline management team.
Once Beulah added the front lawn to her regular route, a guy who walked past every morning would stop on his exercise route, sit on the front steps and chat with her. He called “kitty kitty kitty” and if she were inside she raced to the door to see her gentleman caller.
One particularly hard winter we moved her to our guest room with all the modern conveniences. She decided she liked these private accommodations, so when spring came and we opened the door to let her out, she decided to just stay there. So we opened a window in her upper story room, giving her a private balcony on the roof below. She took sun bathing there.
Meanwhile her gentleman caller grew concerned. One day he knocked on the door to ask if she were well. We pointed out her balcony, called her name, and she appeared. He waved, she gave a regal nod, and thereafter in the mornings we would hear a gentle “Good morning Beulah” when he walked by.
Big Stone Gap ran by the usual unwritten small town rules: successful interlopers with the temerity to run not only a thriving business but write an internationally-acclaimed book about it–the town had a book, thank you–needed to be harassed. We knew eventually someone would fuss about Beulah being on the same floor as the Second Story Cafe above our bookstore.
Her being in a separate enclosed room would have nothing to do with it–and wasn’t illegal. The health department knew. But what’s illegal and what’s fun to play with on social media aren’t always the same. We wanted Kelley, the cafe owner, to not have to wear anything more than she already did from association with us. And we didn’t care to engage with the GMP (Gap Mean People). Mean people suck.
Enter our friends David and Susan. David and Beulah had…. an understanding. Beulah adored David, who often visited the guest room. Sometimes he brought his wife Susan, and when he did Beulah pretty much tried to push her out of the bed. She was David’s cat, 100%.
So she went to live with David. And Susan, although Beulah never acknowledged her as anything but housekeeping staff. Beulah spent many happy years in the shangri-la for cats that is their home, even making best friends with Laurel, another rescue cat from Big Stone. They shared cups of catnip tea as they discussed the old neighborhood.
Until this month, when Beulah was diagnosed with cancer. She is not yet in pain, but the time is short. In the most loving of acts between an owner and a human, a time has been set for Beulah to cross the Rainbow Bridge, pain free. She will spend today eating her favorite foods and cuddling in David’s easy chair, being petted and called pet names. Tomorrow, she will go to the vet, and thence gently into that Good Night.
If ever a cat had it made, Beulah did. She had two loving families, an adoring fan base that spanned not only America but six countries–she got fan mail from Korea and Portugal when Little Bookstore was translated for those countries.
It was a very good run. Godspeed Beulah; those of us who love you wish you well.