First of all, her name could be a bit confusing to those outside the family. Her name was officially Cassaundra Jane (with the “u” in purposely included to ensure it was pronounced “kah-sawn-drah” and not “kah-san-drah”). More typically it was Cassie, but more commonly it was Poo! (with the exclamation point purposely included because it seemed to fit). There were of course many related variations — Poo!Cassie, Poo!Dalolly, DaPoo! — and unrelated: When Atticus was little, he called her “Shnocky-head.” Nobody has any idea where that comes from or what it means, but it too worked. (I contend that her birth name was Stooart Loouise Pooskawitz, a Peruvian/Siamese Jew by way of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan born to a ne’er-do-well cad and a stinky lady of ill-repute on the mean streets of Flint, Michigan. The story I hope someday to turn into a questionable children’s book.)
Whatever you called her, my Cassie was a cat’s cat — smart, sneaky, strong preferences, particular, clean, elegant, opinionated, sweet, and kind of a butthole. It was okay that I called her a butthole when she acted like a butthole — she called me names much worse — but she didn’t especially care for the “butthole” song I would sing to her, although it is certainly a jaunty tune. For 20 plus years, Cassie was my workmate — I would work, she would sleep. To be fair, she did do some other things. She would also bathe loudly and go sit on my keyboard to demand my attention. In our old house, where my office in the basement with her, um, facilities, she would take a dump, which was always a good reminder for me to go stretch my legs while the room aired out. Over the years, whenever I came back to my office (whatever the reason), Cassie had this innate sense of knowing where I needed to be next. If I needed to draw, she would be curled up on my drawing chair. If I needed to be working on my computer, she would be curled up on my desk chair. Uncanny! Then I would feel absolutely horrible having to move her, which of course delighted her to no end. See? Kind of a butthole.
July 1990 my sister-in-law Ann and my mother-in-law brought Cassie to us. Jane and I had been in our first house all of two weeks and were not really looking to add anybody soon, but there she was. I fell in love. The first night we had Cassie, we put her in a room downstairs for the night. We thought she was too small to make it up and down the steps. The moment we closed the door, she started to cry and it broke my heart. So I slept on the floor with her that night. (Next night and most thereafter she was in bed with me and Jane.) Last Saturday, Cassie was failing. Jane had already spent the night with her Friday, so I slept in another room on the floor with Cassie. The beginning met the end. Sunday morning she was gone.