Silver Man

November 25, 2018

“And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve had to write, as well as one I’ve felt the most compelled to do.  Earlier this week, I said goodbye to one of the great loves of my life: my 16-year-old cat, family member and companion, Folsterman.

Sixteen years and eight months ago today, I had just pulled into a grocery store parking lot when I noticed a shopping cart left at the space ahead of mine, empty except for a small shoe box sitting inside.  Something told me to look in that shoe box before I went in to do my shopping.  My instincts were correct.  Inside the box were four tiny, just-born kittens, apparently abandoned without their mother.  I took the kittens to the local emergency vet hospital, where the on-duty veterinarian examined them and told me that they were about one day old.  She gave me some kitten formula and showed me how to feed them with a bottle, then how to wipe their backsides with a warm, wet, cotton ball afterwards.  Apparently, the feline mother does this with her tongue to help the kittens go to the bathroom after eating.

The next several weeks were filled with bottle feeding (each kitten had to have a separate bottle, every two hours, at the correct temperature), cleaning them and trying to keep them warm.  One kitten died in my arms within the first three days, possibly because he had no mama cat to snuggle up to and he got too cold.  After that heartbreak, I had to create make-shift incubators to keep the remaining kittens warm.

I successfully kept the remaining three alive and taught them to eat solid food, use their litter box and become fine, upstanding feline citizens.  I found a home for one of them.  Sofia and Folsterman (Folster, for short) stayed and grew up with me.

Folster would often sit next to me, place his paw on my shoulder or arm and look up into my eyes.  He was an alpha male cat, who walked with a calm, confident, unhurried swagger.  Here he is trolling the cat next door by casually walking onto the neighbor’s porch and nibbling at the cat grass, as the resident kitty watches while (for the moment) stuck inside:

His sister Sofia and he often seemed at odds.  Sofia always wanted to be in the middle of my lap and the center of my attention.  Folster would eat all of his food and then go to her bowl to start on hers.  Sometimes they tussled and growled and generally annoyed one another.  They didn’t snuggle with each other.  I often wondered if the only thing they had in common was their desire for my attention.

Earlier this week, Folster had a seizure.  He was never able to recover, having lost the ability to walk, or even to stand.  He kept trying to get on his feet, but couldn’t manage it.  Sofia sensed that he needed me and was uncharacteristically patient with him and with my giving him more attention.  I kept him comfortable, sang him songs, held his paw and repeated over and over that I loved him.  A dear friend, who has known Sofia and Folster since I got them, and who had recently become a rabbi, said prayers for him over speakerphone, her voice full of emotion as she spoke – a powerful moment that I will treasure always.  A local vet I took him to sent some pain meds home with me, to keep him comfortable.

Finally I looked into his eyes and told him,  “Silver Man, I’m going to be sad no matter when you go, whether it’s now or years from now.  If you want to fight and have a few more months of treats and going outside and playing, I’ll support you and cheer you on.  But, if you are tired and ready to go, I want you to know that it’s o.k.  I’ll miss you, but we’ll be o.k. and we will find each other again.”  He may not have understood my exact words, but he received my meaning.  He passed away the next morning at 5:42 a.m., lying next to me and his sister Sofia.

As soon as she realized he was gone, Sofia became very upset and emotional, crying and meowing and not wanting to be left alone.  She thought she couldn’t stand him, but now misses him terribly.  After all, they were together their entire lives, even in the womb.  Her current sadness reminds me of a scene from the 1992 film Singles.  One of the main characters, Cliff Poncier, an aspiring grunge musician living in Seattle (played by Matt Dillon), is wistfully recalling a previous residence:

“I used to live out by the airport, underneath the flight patterns.  It was really noisy with the planes going by all day.  I used to have cookouts, and no one would come because of the noise.  I got used to it.  And then, when I moved… I missed the noise.  I missed those planes.”

My family and friends have been wonderful and supportive.  The understanding and empathy I have received has helped to carry me through this deep grief.  Almost immediately after he passed, I was filled with an awareness that he is happy and well and still very much around us.  Still, it hurts not to be able to hold him and snuggle him and look into his eyes. I woke up and went to sleep with Folster every day for the past 16 years.  He was the handsome, affectionate and super-smart feline love of my life.  He was my Silver Man, my Folster Man.

Now he is my angel.

“True love stories never have endings.”
~ Richard Bach


Double Chocolate Potato Chip Cookies check all of the comfort food boxes.

Double Chocolate Potato Chip Cookies
Sweet, savory and chocolatey, this may be the yummiest chocolate chip cookie ever.  Use a thick potato chip for these, such as a kettle-style or a ridged dip chip.  I made these with some red potato chips that were on sale at Whole Foods.  The chunks of red give these scrumptious chocolate cookies a little holiday cheer.  You could also try blue potato chips for an alternate holiday look.  Never eat green potato chips 😉

Note: I used salted butter for these.  If you use unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
1 & 1/2 sticks of butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/2 cups organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup lightly crushed thick potato chips
(don’t crush too fine; you want small pieces, not crumbs)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cocoa.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together melted butter, both sugars and vanilla until creamy.

Add eggs to butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat until mixture is lightened in color.

Gradually add in flour mixture, a little at a time, beating after each addition.

Fold in chocolate chips.  Cover dough and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Line a baking sheet (or two if you have them) with parchment paper.

Remove chilled dough from fridge.  Fold in crushed potato chips (dough will be a little stiff at first).

Drop by heaping tablespoon (about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of dough) onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Let stand 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 27 cookies




5 Responses to “Silver Man”

  1. Astrid

    Awwwwwww Gina. Your wonderful Folsterman! He was so special in so many ways. I loved him dearly, truly and deeply, despite my fear of and unease of cats! He and Sofia touched me in unexplainable ways, but Folster always gave me extra love. I know he knew my voice on the phone!!! Lol. I will miss him! I am 100% certain he is now your Angel keeping watch. I know one of his many purposes was to show you what real love is and that unconditional love exists. Sending you and Sofia my constant love, light and prayers. Aho! Amen

  2. Zafìs

    R.I.P great Folsterman! Your meeting with Gina has been a blessing for you., and for her…have fun in heaven!

  3. Gina

    Thank you so much Zafìs! Your beautiful piano compositions have been a blessing for me and for Folster’s sister Sofia! His passing has been a difficult adjustment for her, but all I have to do is play your music and she begins to purr and then curls up for a nap!

  4. Jordania

    Many blessings to you and Sofia during this time and always. Folsterman was such a magnificent kitty, companion and absolute love. He will be deeply missed even as his precious spirit continues to guide and love.

  5. Francesca Weaver

    He was your silver man for sure. He was a amazing guy. I’m saddened for your loss. You both were lucky to have each other in your lives. True honest love!