Saturday, August 9, 2014


You can take all the tea in China
Put it in a big brown bag for me
Sail right around the seven oceans
Drop it straight into the deep blue sea
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
She's an angel of the first degree
She's as sweet as tupelo honey

Just like honey from the bee

I didn't realize Cassandra Wilson was singing THAT song, in a particularly heartfelt and soulful way, until I started to tear up. 

That was our song, mine and Tupelo's, as I drove across the old Oakland-Bay Bridge in 1998, cradling that purring orange kitty in my right arm. It was hard to use the stick shift, but we managed. He was so sweet and so happy to have been rescued. 

I was adopting another cat at the ASCPA in San Francisco. Paloma had to stay in the kennel until she was spayed, but I was visiting her when I heard some kind of crazy cat din from the row over. Someone was meowing for his life. And there he was, a red tabby loud as anything. There was quite a long description of how he came to be there written on the card on his cage. He had been found off a freeway in a duct-taped box with no air holes. He was covered in grease, the remnants of which still made him sticky. And now he was hoping to be adopted. 

I had a cat at home and one on the way, and I needed the landlord's permission for another. I went back to the office and connived someone to adopt him for me. After all he had been through, I could not let him die. I didn't know what I was going to do with him, but he deserved another chance. 

They called him Pyro because he was so red. But it was his sweetness that stood out to me, so I named him Tupelo after the song. His purr was mighty and incomparable.

He bonded with my friend JV who was living on my living room floor while JV worked on What Dreams May Come and The Matrix. JV and Tupelo became a fast pair. Tupelo moved to San Francisco with JV and then became an East Coast cat. Along the way, a few years back now, he developed diabetes. JV and MM took good care of him, making sure he got his insulin shots twice a day. Tupie was in the hospital quite a few times in the last several years, but, somehow, he managed to pull through.

But there is no pulling through old age, when the body breaks down. 

Tomorrow Tupelo will be shuffling off this mortal coil. I am going down to Brooklyn to say goodbye and to be there for JV. 

Tupelo is one of the finest cats I have ever known. He was such a good friend and companion to JV, and JV reciprocated. Tupelo was A CAT among cats. 

Love is love. And this is love. 

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest, my dear friend.


  1. How great our fortune that these sweet beings allow us so fully into their lives!