Larry and the San Francisco Kitty by my paternal grandmother, Florence (born Fanny) Werne Jacobs

I have only two memories of my Uncle Larry. In one he is running with my father through our neighborhood in the DC area. In the other we are visiting my grandparents in LA and he showed me this cat. My sister has his eyes. Larry was a city planner who attended San Francisco State. He also taught in Hebrew School. He was an ENTP just like Harvey and sometimes wore a mustache. He was briefly married to a woman named Millie. He was the strongest advocate for his mother against his father.  He loved New Orleans and he liked reading Vonnegut, Carson McCullers, William Saroyan, about Gestalt therapy. He collected some kind of bus transfer. I have his two tiny stuffed animals: a bear and an elephant. There was also a plastic tiger used to hold up photographs.

 Larry was life and fire of the family, extremely loyal and dedicated to his two brothers (Daddy and my Uncle Steve) My father cannot talk about his brother and as a result of the loss of Larry, I grew up (from December 1979-1984 without a present father. When Daddy woke up in 1984 I was twelve. But the Daddy that came back was partial: there was soul loss, his handwriting changed. He was never so happy and active as before. Part of Daddy is forever with Larry in the Neverworld. My sister does not remember the old Daddy who taught me chess at age four and made me a snowman using burrs for eyes and loved to take family pictures with his special camera. It didn’t help that Daddy’s evil evil evil boss at the Naval Research Laboratory, Jack Davis, abused him and plagiarized his papers (no paper with him as co-author is really by him.) This was one of two people I wanted to murder at a young age (by flushing him down the toilet.) The other was the Austrian leader.

Thus I have been orphaned twice. Probably the main reason I have not killed myself is because I learned firsthand what a suicide does to a family. Larry was probably the fourth member of our family to die in this way, because I strongly suspect my great-grandfather Benjamin Limon also died by his own hand  My bipolar I cousin and I have made a pact that no more suicides will happen in this family again and I know we have stopped this cycle.

Requiem for a Cat

Florence Werne Jacobs

Dec 15, 1980

Cicely was no ordinary cat. Black all over with white on her paws and under her chin and neck, she came to us by a devious route. My son, Larry, was visiting in San Francisco. A young lady approached him with an abandoned kitten that she had found wandering about. She asked my son if he wanted the kitten, otherwise it would face the grim alternative of the pound. Larry took one look at the orphan kitten and his heart melted. 

With his newly adopted pet settled snugly in the front seat of his car, he drove down to Los Angeles, making sure she had a platter of milk before they started. He named her Cicely after the actress, Cecily Thysen [sic], whom he admired.

Since the apartment building where Larry lived prohibited pets, it was surreptitiously housed there with him on week-days, then brought home for Mama to look after on weekends. At first there were objections. Mamma had been through the whole gamut of pets with Larry when he was a youngster,. It had been an emotional experience. Just when she had become attached to one of the cats, after reluctantly agreeing to having it around the house, they were either killed by a dog or poisoned. Then Mamma vowed she would take in no more cats. However, one look at the helpless, homeless kitten and her residence was overcome.

When he was quite young, Larry had a received the gift of a beautiful white Siamese kitten on his birthday which he cherished, but unfortunately was made to give away on Mam’s insistence since he was allergic. Needless to say, Mamma had felt guilty about depriving him of his kitten. Perhaps now she could make it up to him, since there had been no manifestation of the allergy.

The day came when Larry was to move to another city, so Mamma inherited Cecily. Who else? Again the routine of the litter pan, the cans of cat food, trips to the veterinarian, etc.

There was a built in trap door leading from the den to the outside patio/ After a while Cecily was able to go out–of-doors. She stayed within the confines of the patio till she grew a bit older and was able to confront the outside world. And this she did with gusto, as witness her circle of friends in the neighborhood. This included a boyfriend by the name of Ginger. Ginger belonged to no one, but he hung about because he was fed by a neighbor. Cecily would tease Ginger un mercifully, flirting with him and then letting him chase her, which he did all the way through the trap-door into our dining room. When I discovered these amorous antics I put a stop to this orange Casanova’s adventures by shooing him out, so that in the future he only ventured in the trap door. There he would stand awaiting his girlfriend, who stood safely ensconced on the other side of the door, waiting in turn for him to come through it..

There were several incidents when Ginger became embroiled with a male cat who sought to rival his affections. This was a sight to behold. They leaped in the air at each other, the cat hairs flying in all directions. Not only were they rivals in love but were also vying for territorial rights.

To say that Cecily was a gourmet would be an understatement. She ate about seven times a day. After awhile I sought to impress a schedule of meal-time. She had ways of getting around it. Either she would look at me with those beseeching eyes, which I could not resist. This was proceeded by a veritable whining in which you would have thought she was starving, if you didn’t know that she had already consumed a couple of dishfuls of Meaty Treat. She had another ruse to boot. I learned from my neighbor that my erstwhile shy cat (whom I though had been brought up to properly the rules of etiquette) was pilfering from the dishes of my neighbor’s three cats. I even began to suspect that there {sic} other sources of a free meal-ticket available to her in the neighborhood. She had such winning ways.

However, I became somewhat reconciled to this facet of her character, when I chanced to compare notes with other cat owners, who related similar experiences. Morever, that she was a lovable creature was not to be denied. She would prowl about the neighborhood for hours, always returning at meal-time and in-between. It was her habit to beg while we were seated at the dinner table. Vainly I tried to enforce some rules about not feeding her at the time. She was given her food prior to the meal, but that didn’t dissuade her from begging. I can hardly say that I blamed her. The temptinmg msmell of chicken or roast beef was not to be dined,. She won. Though I had try [sic] to effect a compromise by feeding her bits of our dinner after the meal was finished.

Evenings she would sit on my husband’s lap while he read the newspaper or watched television. She had tried to climb up on my bed and sleep on my stomach. I soon put a stop to that, by keeping our bedroom door closed. Once morning early, whining away as if she were starving to death, Cecily succeeded in opening the bedroom door by reaching her paw underneath it. There were times I allowed her to rest on the bed with me during the day I took a short nap. I confess in allowing her longer periods of this indulgence when I was ill and she was my sole companion during the long hours of the day.

Cecily had peculiar ways of showing appreciation. Her gifts consisted of various offerings -birds she had killed and dragged in to show off, or live large moths that she chased about under the dining room table. When I detected a path of bird feathers strewn across the floor and knew what I eventually would find, I was ready to commit mayhem upon her.. This impulse was controlled only by the realization of the feline instinct.

Once when I was preparing a luncheon for our Book Club, when the house had been rendered spic and span and the table set with my best china and silver, I caught sight of Cecily playing with something under an armchair in the living-room. I looked and there was a toad. Having disposed of the amphibian in a remote area of the garden. I duly corralled its captor and confined her to patio, having first secured the trap door. I then washed my hands preparatory to receiving my guests.

Months later, when it was my turn to have the luncheon meeting again, I was alert to the possibility that Cecily would be repeating this episode. Sure enough, she had a toad, this time under the dining room chair and was thrusting her paw at it. I concluded that this was Cicely’s contribution to my luncheon. However, this was one guest I had not invited, so out came the broom, dustpan, toady, Cicely, at al.

Several years had passed. Cicely had become a member of the family. Each evening when we returned from work, she was there to greet us in the service-porch where her cat dish was placed. We had become quite accustomed to her. Then one day she left the house to play with a cat across the street, I happened to be looking out the window when I saw her crossing the street to return to our house when a car suddenly appeared. She had darted under it. I looked in horror. The car passed and I saw tufts of her hair on the pavement, but no Cecily. I dashed indoors prepared fro the worst. She was under a dining room chair bleeding.l I rushed to the phone to call the veterinarian. The receptionist told me that he had already left the office. It was a few minutes passed four o’ clock. I explained that it was an emergency and that I was but a few blocks away. The receptionist said that she would get in touch with the doctor and that I could bring Cecily in right away. My husband and I drove over to this office.

Her leg had been fractured. We had to leave her for treatment and x-rays. Months of care and convalescence followed. It took three of us, my husband, my youngest son, and myself, to administer sulfa drug by mouth. When she was not al the veterinarian, she was cradled in a warm corner of the dining room where we would watch over her. There were times when she was in such agony that the thought crossed our mind that she might have to be put to sleep. We continued to administer the medication to take her regularly from check-ups and x-rays. She wore a splint and was bandaged. It was her right hand leg. She hopped about on three legs for quite awhile. We would not allow her to go out-of-doors. After a number of months, there was a miraculous healing. It was then that we allowed her to venture forth, for she was quite unhappy being cooped up in the home.

One night she was reclining on my husband’s lap as was her custom, I had gone to bed earlier than usual, about 10 pm. The next morning she was nowhere to be seen. She had simply disappeared. We searched up and down the street, enquiring of neighbors. Our immediate neighbor, the one who fed Ginger, claimed she had seen the two of them going off together somewhere, but only Ginger had returned. I was in shock. I looked to Ginger hoping she would give me some clue as to the whereabouts of Cecily. Had she been pursued by a dog and unable to run fast enough? Was she run over by a car? Did someone pick her up? We were never to know the answer. We had a faint hope that she was still alive somewhere and would find her way back to us. Alas, she was never heard from again. If there is a cat heaven, Cecily, we know you are there, safe at last!

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