This old demon was simply the most amazing cat I’ve ever known. He’s long gone now, but this photo (click to enlarge) hangs in my home and he is fondly remembered.

His first owner, Alfred Beffie, a Dutch emigree who, with his wife Mary, fled the Germans during WWII, referred to him as ‘Alte Leur’ or ‘Old Lion’. When Alfred’s wife Mary died and Alfred moved in with his son, he asked my then-wife Priscilla to take Nelis. She did, without my foreknowledge. At first I was furious – we already had two cats! In an apartment! All worked out though and we shortly moved into a house in Longmont, where Nelis quickly became the King of the Neighborhood.

When Priscilla and I divorced a few years later, Nelis went with her and subsequently died in Albuquerque, NM. He literally keeled over one morning, finally succumbing to a massive heart attack that drugs had kept at bay for nearly a decade, defying numerous veterinary prognoses.

When I heard of his demise, I wrote this:

Always Victorious

Small friend
since our paths have parted
I will not see you fall
where will your road end?

Tears batter my eyes
seeking your fur
wishing for
one last caress

To feel your heart beating bravely
your whiskers, your nose
sandpaper kiss, lopsided bite
golden gaze so pure

In my mind’s eye
I see you, Leonine
in final repose
stretched as if running

As the earth holds you
in it’s jealous bosom
may you dream the Warrior Dream
always victorious.

MDW 8/98

for Nélis

3 thoughts on “Nelis

  1. Nelis reminds me a lot of my CA BFF’s cat Clyde. Big, big guy but long gone now. Lee said he weighed about 20 lbs.

    The kitty at the top looks like one that I had named Baby Kitty. She disappeared one day when she was about five years old and never returned. I checked the animal shelter for weeks. Years later I heard that another neighbor’s dog may have killed her.

  2. Hello there, i live in the house where Mary used to live during summertime. I already discovered that het mother Mimi Ostwald died in 1931 ande het father Emmanuel Kahn in 1941. Her sister Alice and two of het children were unfortanetely killed in Auschwitch. The Kahn family was very fortunate. They owned a property in Wassenaar and during the summer they lived in Scheveningen ( the coast of The Hahue in Holland). In the online archives of our city I found some information but I always wondered waht happened to the family after the immigration. Love the story about the cat. Nelis is a typical Dutch name. Can you please get me in contact with her children? Thank you in advance. I would like to see some pictures of our house in the old days ( 1913-1940) The address is Klatteweg 1.
    With kind regards, Annemieke

  3. Can i please get in touch with you, i live in the house wher mary grew up in holland. thank you

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