Age cannot eclipse elegance.
Cancer cannot quell a heart of fire.
And Raquel Welch cannot compete with Raquel Rosenberg.
The latter Raquel — Raquel the Greater, if you will — is one of those cats who came into Tabby’s Place quietly. There was no searing sadness, no scandalous story behind her particular “hopeless situation.” She was simply a little too old, a little too fragile, and a little too weary to weather another winter outdoors. Although we had every reason to believe she was as feral as the rest of her colony comrades, we agreed to take her in.
Although she officially arrived at Tabby’s Place in January 2015, Raquel seemed to come to us slowly. Her squishy-face, squinty-eyed, orangey-browny old body was completely here, yes…but the stripes of her soul arrived in pieces, cautiously.
One day, a hiss, half-hearted but still sturdy. No, I would prefer that you not touch me. Yet.
One month, a half “butt-up” — that most charming of cat moves, when the rear rises, almost independent of the rest of the cat, in thanks for a good skritch. Oh. You are going to keep trying. And I am…oh, I am going to start to like it. And maybe, someday, you.
And then, out tumbled a whole cantata of courage we hadn’t expected. In Adoption Room #1, with such strange companions as Max and Sherpa, Raquel went all super-diva-glamazon on us. OK, I’m letting it all out now. I’m not feral. I’m not old. I. AM. FABULOSITY. PERSONIFIED.
Sherpa hissed and hunched his haunches, Himalayan-Napoleon style. Raquel responded by vogueing. I swear, kittens, if I’d not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it…but the aging ageless torbie pranced in Sherpa’s face.
But no sooner had Raquel tortured and triumphed over those boys and her fears, than we got some most unexpected news. A routine checkup turned up a lump…which turned out to be cancer…which wound up having already wound its way into Raquel’s lymphatic system.
There would be no point in chemo, no kindness in surgery. Overnight, we went from celebrating her spark to monitoring her quality of life.
Raquel, however, just kept prancing.
Once we scraped our sloppy human hearts off the floor from the shock, we did the obvious thing: we moved Raquel to the lobby. Beyond the snarls of His Sherpitude, she’d find a jamboree of junk food, friends and frolic and all the affection she wanted, when she wanted it.
Not to mention a much, much bigger dance floor.
As I type this post, Raquel is dreaming in a lobby sunbeam. Earlier this morning, she faced off with Halie (outcome: stalemate), ate a vat of orangey-fishy slop, and hawkeyed humans from the coziest nook in the neighborhood. She is, no doubt, happy. She is old, but she is still learning, even as she continues to educate us in the inexhaustible subject of herself.
I don’t presume to know what Raquel’s future holds. I only know that fear lies, dire predictions deceive, and sometimes life wins in ways we can’t explain. Raquel’s time here may be long; it may be a gasp.
It will be surprising, sanctified, and beautiful.
Let that other Raquel have her empire of wigs, her drooling train of men and her Total Fitness and Beauty Program. Raquel of Ringoes is on a fantastic voyage, and we’re thrilled to prance along.