Salute to General PhaelenJersey | Writing Rants

Salute to General Phaelen

It was small and colorful and spikey. It ran across the floor as one big poof ball. She was cute and immediately found a place in my heart.



Her first trip to the vet informed me that she was not 8 weeks as I had been told when I rescued her, but probably closer to 4 or maybe 6.

It would take me almost 2 weeks to get the name Spike off the list. Lucky for her (or me), I waited til she showed her true colors.

The caterwauling would come from all parts of the apartment. Not the cute mewling new kittens do, but high pitch gut wrenching caterwauling. There was no rhyme or reason for it, but every time I would go running to make sure she was ok — after all her sister was a couple months older than her and Sneakers was probably trying to kill or maim the calico runt.

Luckily for the runt, the apartment was small and I could rescue her quickly. The problem was, she didn’t need rescuing — like ever.

Like all sibling rivalry — she’s touching me — took on a whole new meaning. I threatened to name her Wolf if she kept screaming for no reason.

One day, amid the most horrendous screaming a tiny spikey runt could utter, I ran into the bedroom only to find the calico on the bed on one side of the room and the small gray kitten on the floor on the other side of the room.

Sneakers is picking on me

Sneakers is picking on me

I looked at Sneakers sitting calmly on the floor and she looked at me like, “What? I’m just trying to figure out what the problem is myself?”

Well, needless to say Wolf stuck — sort of. I didn’t actually care to name her so obviously and I like unique names. A friend of mine told me that Phaelen was Gaelic for Wolf. And that is how the runt came to be named.

Over time her spikey hair grew out enough to lay flat so I was happy that I had not chosen Spike. Think of all the explaining I would have to do with Spike.

For the next 20 plus years she would be a part of my life. She would snuggle in bed, walk the banister railing of the loft (22 feet over the living room), balk at being tossed into 4 feet high snow, and literally climb the brick wall to come back inside.

Yeah, she wasn’t much of an outdoor cat. People, couches, and beds, that was her thing. Oh, and trash. She was a foodie from the git go. Maybe it had something to do with being abandoned by her mom pretty much from birth.

I learned to lock up the trash early on since she was fond of getting into the trash can — which almost resulted in her being thrown out — to eat whatever left overs she could find.

Years later, Toby (Golden Retriever) found a soul mate in Phaelen. They would often collaborate on the best way to get into the trash for tidbits. I never could tell who was the instigator and who was along for the ride, but they were foodies at heart.

PCS (permanent Change of Station) orders came down early in 2015 and Texas became our new home. It was during this acclimation period that I made friends who picked up on my military vernacular. After some recon missions the WTF Unit was formed. As the rank and file fell into place, Phaelen became the General due to her vast field experience. She lead her rag tag band into several recon missions and reaped the rewards of chicken bits, cat nip, and salmon.

Phaelen Recon

Phaelen Recon

Up until 6 months ago she was a healthy and sturdy cat. Slowly her body started to give out. Like most people, high blood pressure, hearing problems, eye problems tipped the scales and she started to show her age.

Phaelen Aim High

Phaelen Aim High

One thing always remained constant: food.

If salmon is present watch you limbs…anything between her and salmon and you would be bringing back a stub.

She helped me cope with life when I first rescued her and she made me calm as we grew older together.

In the last few years she helped me again cope with life. It was nice to come home to someone, to feel her small warm runt body curl in my lap or lay on the pillow next to mine purring. It was great to be needed and wanted and loved unconditionally when I was at some of my lowest points in life.

A few weeks ago entered the Foodie Free For All stage. She was not supposed to have salmon or tuna because of her failing organs. As life has it for all of us, there comes a point where it doesn’t matter. All you need is substance and it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad.

Good night my sweet girl — I love you and will miss you, you will never be forgotten.


[media-credit name=”Photo by Kel Hinkle” link=”×1024.jpg” alt=”Phaelen Portrait” width=”768″ height=”768″ />[/media-credit] Phaelen Portrait

Death’s Anniversary

Time is a funny thing. Everything seems so far away then suddenly you are looking back wondering where it all went in a blink.

This time last year I was on the phone hearing words I did not expect from a doctor I did not know.

I sat on the floor wondering if I was dreaming.The roar in my ears, the trembling of my hands and the calm words of a friend as I sat there made it all the more real.

My father, the last of my parents, had passed away.

I. Was. An. Orphan.

What did I do now? That part was immediately simple. With a friend by my side and the man made laws and social norms in place, I went through the motions of doing what had to be done.

View the body: Check.

Talk to the doctor about the cause and next steps: Check.

Pack up the belongings: Check.

Call someone to retrieve the body: Check.

Notify friends and family: Check.

Pick out cremation plan: Check.

Complete death certificate: Check.


After all the noise and commotion there is resounding silence. There is no getting around this part. It is by far, the most difficult thing to handle and yet something everyone must deal with.

The second thoughts, the what ifs, the guilt. And through it all, nothing changes, nothing could. In my un-unique state of losing someone close to me, I was also freed. Freed of my obligations, free to do what I wanted with no pressure to live up to something or someone. It was as liberating as it was terrifying.

Slowly plans were created from the ashes and goals set to scatter my father’s remains. He left no instructions other than “Don’t put me in the damn ground for the worms to eat”.

As I moved around to leave him to roam the places he loved most (by my memory anyway), I indirectly started laying the foundation for me to move on. The moving around both hurt and helped me move on. Mixed feelings — often at time without warning — would overwhelm me. It delayed my grief because I was focused on what to do next.

In the end, visiting places my father loved the most, brought me closer to him. It brought me a sense of peace and closure that I would have missed had I chosen any other route.

It’s been one year ago today — where did the time go?

Rest in Peace Dad. You are loved and missed.


Your Daughter