the short, happy life
of George McFly

I will warn you right off that this will probably be a long story. And also, that it will turn out to be a sad story.  But write it I must, for my own catharsis, as my own farewell.

He showed up at the back door late one night in April of last year, two days after his brother, Brett, arrived. And I’ll admit it, this was not exactly a case of love at first sight. I was a little wary of George from the beginning, he was semi-feral, half-starved and though this had nothing to do with him, we already had four cats inside. (It was however, a case of name at first sight, he immediately made me think of Crispin Glover’s George McFly from Back to the Future.)

I have always wondered where he was for those two extra days, how he made his way to us, why he seemed so much more wild than his brother. Initially, we made them a shelter to sleep in outside and provided plenty of food. We still hadn’t decided if we would keep them, I mean, six cats, really?

About a week later, George came home one night with some pretty serious injuries. We never did find out exactly what happened, but he had puncture wounds and a hernia. Now we had a decision to make. Of course, the decision was only in our heads (and our wallets) because our hearts already knew what we would do.

Yes, six cats.

The four that we already had were essentially indoor cats, they like to come out with us when we sit in the garden, but we live on a country road, a 55 mph country road, and so, indoor cats. But these new boys, The Outsiders, as my husband would come to call them, were never going to be indoor cats. These kittens were hunters. So we compromised, they would go outside during the day and I would coax them back inside at night.

And so they became my yin and yang kittens, George Porge, Puddin and Pie, The Boys. So much the same, yet so completely different. Brett is just adorable, and the quintessential naughty kitten. He’s very social and active and demanding, especially when he wants his special (canned) food. George was the quiet one, slow and steady, always reserved, always calm, polite, and undemanding. George was special in a way I always found hard to describe, he was intelligent, but he lived in his own little world, always slightly apart from the rest of us, always slightly unaware, or unconcerned, about his surroundings.

Despite those initial reservations, over the past year he worked his way deep into my heart. Proof of this is the fact that he became the only cat allowed to sleep in our bed at night. Besides going outside, it was the only thing he ever asked for. And I couldn’t say no, I just couldn’t.

Slowly, we formed a bond, he learned to let me rub his belly, I learned his habits and that his introversion was not a lack of affection. I am certain now that he loved me, loved all of us, with his whole heart. He would stop in throughout the day for snacks and as soon as he was finished, he would come into my studio and ask to be let out again. He did this funny little canter on his way back to the door that always made me smile.

The only time he was naughty was when we tried to keep him inside, which was only when we went away for a few days. Each time, when we returned, blinds had been shredded, couch cushions were strewn across the floor. George wanted out.

But he never demanded to be fed, never demanded attention. If one of the other cats budged their way into his bowl, he would step aside gracefully. Every time I stepped outside, to get the mail, water my plants, take a break, there would be George, winding himself around my ankles. When I went outside to call him in at night, almost always, he came running.

And when I picked him up to take him in, he always nuzzled his head into my neck, and I always said, “That’s my George.”

Once inside, he would almost immediately go off to sleep, fueling up for the next day’s adventures. If he wasn’t already there when I started getting ready for bed, he would hop up onto the mattress, plopping down in my spot and looking up at me hopefully.

During the past year, at night, we learned to trust each other, in the silence that fell into the space between my head and my feet, where he slept with some part of his body always touching my leg. Maybe just a shoulder, or a paw, but always something.

If I moved in the night, he moved with me, ever polite, simply rearranging himself around my new position.

And each morning he waited for me to wake up. Sitting there as my sentinel, silent, awake, waiting. Not for me to feed him, but for me to let him out the back door. He would come back in later for food. But first, he wanted out.

On Sunday, I let him out the same as every morning. Brett stayed inside to get a snack first, and followed a few minutes later. Just a few minutes after that, my husband and son arrived home from our cabin and found George in the driveway, no longer alive. Brett was siting nearby, he now the sentinel.

Our guess is that George got clipped by a car and managed to make it partway up the driveway before collapsing. He was trying to make his way home.

It was the thing I worried about most. The road was always the first place I checked whenever I couldn’t find my boys, and especially with George, as he always seemed completely unaware of danger. But still, that morning, it was completely unexpected. It was a shock. We all had the wind knocked right out of us.

The three of us spent the day in tears, and that evening my husband placed a stone, on which he had written “Sporty” (his name for George), at the spot where we found him. We decided to inlay it into the gravel. After the three of us did so, my husband and I walked back to sit in the garden. Just a moment later, I thought I heard bagpipes, and I looked at my husband, and we both said, “Is he?….” My son was standing where we had placed the rock, playing Amazing Grace on his iphone, which at first made us totally crack up, but then, of course, made us both burst into tears.

And so, my George is gone. He had a wonderful year filled with love and kindness and adventure, and I don’t think he would have wanted it any other way. Actually, I am certain of it.

He was a sweet soul who was destined to live a short life.

And he lived it in his own special world, in his own funny way.

Always with just one paw extended into ours.

But, damn, he broke my heart.

And I miss him.

36 Responses to “the short, happy life
of George McFly”

  • Trece Says:

    I knew I’d cry again when I read it, but you know I had to. My Little Bit looks so much like him, and is just as ‘separate’. She is not yet as close to me as he was to you, though it has been 6 years.
    I am petting her, for George.

  • Liz Says:

    So sweet, sad, & special. Thank you for sharing his story with us.

  • Skye Says:

    Oh, Kelly. I am crying my eyes out. Not just the sadness at losing your sweet, loving George, but the beauty~~the radiant one golden ray peeking over the mountaintop beauty of sharing your life & your sleep, cuddles & hugs with such a loving, independant soul.
    I am so, so, so glad that you have the Sporty stone in the gravel…
    My heart grieves with you & celebrates your sweet George’s life, all at once. <3

  • debi Says:

    even knowing part of this story, my heart breaks open again and i am crying with you, crying for george, for brett, for your husband and son, for the awfulness of love and the wonderfulness of it. i am so so sorry.

    and ps – i kind of find myself thinking of him as george bailey – he had a wonderful life.

  • honey Says:

    i was wondering what was going on from your fb posts…this is a beautiful story, and i send my sympathy for the sadness….and the missing….darn it.

  • Tracy Brown Says:

    Of course this made me cry too. You wrote it so beautifully.

    You gave George such love. You, your husband, and son… you are all just “good people.”

    Love to all of you.

  • Sally Says:

    Beautiful. Being Scottish, I’m a sucker for bagpipes. There’s a lovely message in all this somewhere. Here’s what keeps running through my head: I once was lost, but now – am found. Was blind but now ~ I see …

    And in the words of George McFly: What a character. Always trying to get away with something. … Although if it wasn’t for him…


  • miz katie Says:

    Oh..that George! He’s made me fall in love with him in a few short minutes, too..I can see why he had you by the heart strings like he did. I’m so sorry for your huge loss. He will be sadly missed for a long, long time.

  • prairiegirl Says:

    oh kelly, kelly …
    my heart is breaking for you and yours …
    your george porge was truly a love and such a gift.
    he was blessed to have your hearts and kindness and respect
    and to know him and love him just as he was, right from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail … you gave him the best of life!
    for your family to openly express your feelings for this little fellow
    as you have done (i sobbed when you told us about your son playing the bagpipes on his ipod … oh oh oh) … such an indication of your family love and how you extend that love …
    when you are sleeping, you may hear him purring softly in your ear, letting you know how much he loved you …
    sincere hugs for your hearts …

  • Nana Says:

    Even though I already knew about “George”, seeing it all in print just seems to make it all so final. I had thought I wouldn’t cry anymore but I was wrong, this time I bawled. Something about “George” was always special, one of those things you could never put your finger on, he could always give you his heart and share himself with you (BUT) there was that small piece of him that he had to keep to himself, the part of him that made him “George McFly”. He always had the best, he lacked for nothing. He was loved more than anyone can say and he’ll be missed more than anybody can know. Years from now his family will still talk about “Georgie Porgie, puddin an pie…………..

  • Frida Says:

    At first the title George McFly made me think of a movie and made me smile. Then I realized it was something completely different and soon I discovered that it was a sad story.

    My daughter had a cat only one year and he sat in my lap reading the newspaper and was like a trusty old dog to his family. His life was short and intense. I think they come to us of a special reason. Cherish the time you had with him and remember him with a great smile.

  • Jillsy Girl Says:

    what a heartwarming tribute to such a dear friend and pet. you two obviously had a very close bond and just reading how he made himself crawl onto the driveway just broke my heart into a million little pieces. tears flowing.

  • Kathryn Dyche Dechairo Says:

    Crap, I can hardly see the screen for sitting here balling my eyes out. It brought back memories of a terrible night where I was home alone and got a knock on our door. Someone was kind enough to stop and let me know that they had hit our kitten. Like George he had tried to make his way home and died in his favorite spot by our stream. I feel your pain and share your tears. Animals have a unique way of touching our hearts. Hugs. xxx

  • jo miller Says:

    Dear one, I remember when George arrived, becoming a part of your home. You were joking about how now,with six cats, you’d be the crazy cat lady. 🙂
    You have honoured his spirit, well ~ the descriptions & respect of George’s individuality He was well loved and valued, unconditionally for whom he was. He was accepted – George was respected as is. We’ve not reason to ask for much than that. shelter, food, belonging & freedom – given.
    What a cat!
    mr&mrs m, and family. I celebrate the great life that George shared with you. & us
    Sending you love
    ! It is so sweet that your son gave him a bagpipe sendoff – Noble. does make for a fun and soothing image Blessings to you all remember that it is very healthy & ok to grieve.
    I may think of this handsome cat as McFly, as a soothing thought. I will be thinking of him & the lesson he was brought to teach, often.

  • Melanie in Arizona Says:

    I know how heartbreaking it is to lose a furry friend. My animal bonds are as strong as my human friendships. I lost my precious orange tabby, Kato, a few years ago. I just sent him over to find George in heaven so he could make friends and give him a welcoming kitty hug. Take care, Melanie in Arizona

  • Amy Says:

    Oh, Kelly. I am crying and don’t know what to say. I wish I could be there in person to give you a hug, the only thing that seems appropriate although I know that it won’t make it hurt any less. But know that I am thinking of you and my heart is with you. Your George was amazing.

  • Stereo Says:

    I am not what one would call an “animal person” but that just destroyed me. I am so sorry for your loss – George sounded like a king among cats.

  • Mrs. Mediocrity Says:

    I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you, everyone, for being so kind and supportive and caring. It has really meant a lot to me. You all are the best, and I love you.

  • carol letky Says:

    that’s so beautiful Kelly – of course it brought tears to my eyes. he was such a sweetheart and I
    know you all miss him terribly. bet he’s playing with coby in animal heaven. I’m sure there is such a place.

  • eliza Says:

    i am so so so sad for you, damn why do these things happen 🙁 Our animals, they break our hearts over and over again and yet we could not be without them. sometimes i think my life would be so much simpler, less painful without any little furry people in it, but then i can’t imagine life without them. what a wonderful year he had with you, what a special boy! sending you soothing purrs from my smallest cat who is awake at this late hour with me, of course…

  • Mama Zen Says:

    Oh, I am so sorry. This breaks my heart.

  • Heather Says:

    Oh, Kelly. I am so sorry for your loss. And so glad that if George had to go so quickly it happened while he was outside living it up. What a beautiful creature. Thank you for sharing his story with us. Sending hugs to you.

  • Joan Says:

    Thank you for writing that. Sometimes our friends just stop for a short time, but it’s time we would never want to miss. Sweet George.

  • missing momets Says:

    Oh Kelly, as you suspect, tears are rolling down my face. So beautifully and elegantly written that I fell in love with George as well.
    I once had a kitty also called George and he too lived similarly. He went missing for several days and then one evening we heard him meowing at our front door and there he was, bloodied, and crumpled on his behind legs. He apparently had been hit by a car and had drug himself home. With a broken hip! He did recover but not without a hind limp. So sorry for this loss … there are no words to replace your pain. xo

  • beth Says:

    oh kelly….the tears are running down my face.
    i hope you know how much you were loved by him….the fact that you let him, be him, without question or trying to change him….well, he was so incredibly blessed to have found you and your family.

    what’s a year in animal years….well, i think your heart feels so many more years than just one….that’s what our animal loves do to us.


  • Marcie Says:

    Tears rolling down my cheeks. What can I say? senseless. sad. sorry!

  • lisa Says:

    My heart breaks for you.

  • ELK Says:

    you gave him an amazing life .. so sorry for your loss~

  • emma Says:

    Oh, this is killing me. I have tears literally pouring down my face. What a beautiful commemoration. Now I want to rush home and hug my own (single) cat to me and never let her go. They do have such a sneaky way of invading every crevice of our hearts, don’t they. My condolences to your family.

  • Kelly Says:

    What an amazing story…even if the ending is sad for you all. Your writing is beautiful…like a good book..i swear I was there every minute.
    I’m sorry about George….and sorry for your sadness.

  • Daryl Says:

    over from Reena’s … I am truly choked up because George looks/sounds a lot like our Jack .. and because you write so beautifully .. thank you for sharing his story.

  • Marilyn Says:

    Your George looks just like my Joey, so this is even more sad. So sorry for you to lose your special little friend with the pink nose.

  • Sara Says:

    This really hit home for me. Growing up we had several cats who loved to go outside but right down our driveway was the same 55mph road and we were right on top of a hill- nobody could see with enough time to stop. We lost two cats this way, her two kittens she keeps inside now.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Jannie Funster Says:

    Very sorry about “Sporty” George.

    We have a ginger tabby too, KitKat. He sounds like George with his own funny, but loving ways.

    Sorry for your loss, Kelly. There was a lot of love shared, I can tell.


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