Sailor Ripley ... Rest In Peace

1988? 1990 ? - August 8, 2008, Midnight

He is buried in the front yard where he loved to oversee the passers
by in the warmth of the full sun.

Sailor was the Sean Connery of Cats... so my friends and housemates dubbed him for the seven years he lived at Beanflower House, and I always imagined his inner voice with Sean Connery's voice....He ruled the world with his bright green and knowing gaze. A little greying around the muzzle, a regal posture... an impenetrable stare (if he felt like it was necessary to bring you to heal.)

Sailor began ruling my world when I met DJ in 2000. DJ lived in Oaktownbootyville in the ÜberWarehouse with Todd and Michael Vavricek. Some guy named Eamonn Corbally's name was still on the door. DJ remembered Eamonn fondly as a "Plastic Paddy" - an Irishman who was basically English. He said Eamonn was a scrappy little guy and came home most weekends bruised and scratched from taking on much bigger blokes in bar scraps. DJ clearly had a great deal of affection for his departed housemate.

When I was at the warehouse, Sailor slept on my head. He would hold my head between two claws on either side, with his nose against my left ear, whispering truths and lies as I drifted off to sleep. We said that he had only two names for Humans ... Thumb and Head. We joked about turning him into a hat when he died, since he was quick to arrange himself to be draped over our heads if we lay sleeping.

Sadly, Sailor was clearly not happy in the warehouse. He had previously been allowed out but now, due to new and oppressive ownership of the building, was confined to the indoors only. He was scabby with fleas and his litter box was never as clean as he would have liked.

He loved spicy chicken and ate pork like he would have chased pigs in the wild, and we are convinced he could spell T U N A. When you said the word, "tuna" he looked up or ame running, or whatever. And when you said the letters. his ears pricked up. Or just demanded that you open a can ... "NOW, Thumb!" He would underscore his point with a pathetic "mew,"

That was the thing about Sailor. At 18 pounds and a significantly statuesque feline presence, he persisted in making his roar something less than that of a much smaller cat. Or even kitten. It was silly, really, if you dared laugh in his face. I only laughed once.

Sailor Ripley loved cheesecake... who knew ?

I took Sailor home to live in the "country" with me in 2001. He loved it at my house, and DJ saw that it was best for him to have that life, free of fleas, indoor / outdoor and no need for a litter box. Sailor filled out and got glossy and thick and slept on my head. He was affectionate and loved to be scritched under the chin, but he maintained the distinctive "Reverse Magnetic Field" I had observed at DJ's ... specifically, if you held your hand out while Sailor was walking beneath it, and lowered it as he passed, he would slink to Limbo an inch or so beneath your hand, making sure to never come into contact.

Through bizarre and completely predictable circumstances, Eamonn Corbally, came back in to Sailor's life after he brought him to San Francisco as a youngster in the early 1990's. Eamonn had subsequently returned to England and had to leave the big black beastie in the U.S. since quarantine restrictions are so prohibitionary over there.

A year ago, in the winter of 2006, my very good friend Karen Stafko went to London for Art School. She was having problems with her Mac, and found a random flyer advertising computer help from The Mac Guy. She called the guy, and although he was too busy to take her case, he gave her advice on the phone. She tried his advice. It didn't work out. She waited for a few hours, unsure what to do next. She finally called him back It was late. He said that if that hadn't worked, he felt honor-bound to figure out her problem. Could she come over? She debated. She decided her computer woes were worth the cross-city trip on public transit to an unknown man's lair and headed out The Mac Guy's way.

When she arrived, he took on her computer and waved to his DVD collection and told her to make herself comfortable. The first movie she saw and remarked on was Wild At Heart. He enthusiastically said it was his favorite flick. They talked a bit, and she said she was from SF. He told her he'd lived there in the early 90's, had been in a band, and been a hellraiser and had got the technical itch from his housemate, DJ Bartlett. Karen's ears pricked up... she recognized the name of my ex-boyfriend.

She emailed me wondering if I knew of an Eamonn Corbally? I immediately responded that I needed to get in touch with that very man, as he had been my cat's original owner. It was a month or so later when I finally got in touch with Eamonn and told him what we had in common. This link to the email exchange between Eamonn and paints a pretty good picture of a cat who lived a large life and touched many lives as he strode through it.

Mikey, who lived with us almost a year before being lured away by MIT, sent this memorial of Sailor and some photos of Sailor's walk.

When he came to live with me, he took to taking his designated Person on nightly walks around the block. Deborah, then Jeanavive (who wrote about it one summer evening in 2005), then Mikey and finally Qat took on that role. Tim did it once or twice, but lacked the necessary timing - Sailor liked to go around 10:30 or 11 pm. I filled in when no one else was there. This last year, he would practically run to the end of the driveway, and then when i walked away, he would just stay there looking at me, I only got him to around the block once this summer.

Eamonn told me he had started that with him long ago.

Sailor owes much of the spoiled and elegant quality of his long and regal life to:

Don McCasland, Jeanavive Jensen, Qat, Mikey Siegel and Deborah-who-bqueathed-the-Sailor-Walkng-Sweater, and DJ Bartlett, and of course, Eamonn Corbally
... and to the many many people who were kind to him over his long years in this world.


P.S. An update... August 20, 2008

i just received a personal card and handwritten note from the South Penninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic, where, at 10 pm on a Sunday night - panicked and afraid for my handsome boy when he suddenly started gouting blood from his mouth ... I drove Sailor (with Don holding him in a box on his lap.) This may be one of the most touching things i have ever experienced with a Vet. (And it's hardly a commercial ploy, since how often do you have to go to an Emergency Vet?) Just damned nice of them, thassal.