June 29, 2006 – June 7, 2019
She was a good cat. Oh, I hear you, she only bit six or eight people, sending a couple of them to the hospital. But she was very soft, and very loving, all the same.
Elvon and I had our first experience leading a cruise group, with the Blaufuss’ VintageTravel Agency, in 1997, Bangkok to Hong Kong. George Blaufuss was still alive when I was leash training Sylly P on Deer Hollow, in Silverado Oaks, in 2006. George shrank back from my offering my new kitten for petting. Kathy had his care giver wait for me to get back, to find out who I was, and to tell me he had asked her “Who was the lady walking the skunk?” Kathy was my mentor in how to take care of an Alzheimers’ patient. You take him cruising. She did it with George and, when Elvon’s turn came around, I did the same. It’s why I am a Travel Advisor now, and a Concierge Host. We would be at sea for six months of the year, for six or eight years.
With her staff away so much, Sylly P had to hire alternates. People came from all over the world to spend time at Silverado and the wineries of Napa and Sonoma. They included the Potters from Southern California and Sharon Bobrow from San Francisco, all of whom now live in Napa, Kathy Stefano from San Francisco, who got to help when Elvon lost his passport on the way to Beijing, the Rands from Alberta, Glen Reid, who got the 2014 Napa Earthquake as a bonus, plus a trip to the vet with Sylly P, always a treat, Elvon’s Uncle Bob Doty from the Oakland Hills, John Ball from Hong Kong, Pat Harrold and Paul Hart from Vancouver, the Lajoys from Vancouver Island, the Vinograds from London, England, Lottie and Richard Nicholson from Arizona, André and Jo-Ann Dery and Yolaine St-Jacques from Montreal, Jane Collyer and Kirk Wandell from Ottawa, and, of course, Susan Harris, who took a four month stint and found a place to live in Larkspur, while she was at it. Last came Steve and Trish Harrold from Florida, who ended up taking care of me, when I broke my pelvis, and now live at Fountaingrove Lodge. Susan did a shift of that, too. Then there were Margo Reilly, my very first friend, and Norma Griffin, from Ontario, who didn’t get Sylly P but came out of my network to mind the Doyles dogs, so I’ll count them, too. Sylly P and I thank you all, and, I hope my grieving brain hasn’t forgotten anyone.
For the first five years or so, we used to tie her to a tree on a forty-foot leash. The lawn was inhabited by a colony of voles, so she would hunt. She’d sit over a vole hole for hours. When one of us went out to bring her in, she’d plunge a paw down the hole is a last, futile attempt. She caught exactly one mouse in her entire life, in the dining room after chasing him in from the garage. She wasn’t really good at it. When our Mexican cleaning lady found what my mother used to call “mouse dirt” under the kitchen sink. She somehow made me understand she wanted me to buy traps, I pointed to Sylly P. All she could say to that was “Gato no trabajo.” I didn’t know if she meant “The cat doesn’t work” or “The cat is broken”, but I got the mouse traps, and they got the mice.
Sylly P was a cuddly cat, made so by her early education, which consisted of a number of black and white parties, where our friends were encouraged to pick her up and cuddle with her. She liked to lie on our chests early in the morning or when we were watching TV. She was a great comfort to me convalescing from a broken pelvis, when I barely left the adjustable bed for weeks. She was the same with Elvon, and he always had a lot more bed and TV time than I did, and more and more as he neared the end of his life.
I am not sure she ever recovered from the loss of him. Her own decline began as he was dying, and, despite my best efforts and those of a holistic and a regular vet, her decline continued. I know a lot about cat food, now, and have a ton of the very best of it in my freezer. Huge thanks to Karen Novak, my neighbor’s daughter, and a kind, sensible vet who visited Sylly P, when she visited her mother, and tried a number of things that worked for a while. Thanks also to Steve and Trish Harrold, particularly Trish, who took care of Sylly P when I went cruising, except for the last time, when we three all went to Asia.
Sylly P died at home, assisted by Karen, with Geri Novak, and her grand-daughter Simona, and Steve and Trish in attendance. We gave her an Irish wake, and she’s now resting in Bubbling Well Memorial Park, overlooking the Silverado Country Club and the Napa Valley, with Henry. Rest in peace, dear furry friend.