Farewell to Pat Bryan, cat (and fish) sitter extraordinare

3 10 2010

Our beloved cat (and fish) sitter, Pat Bryan, passed away very suddenly on 9.22.2010, at the age of 58. He started his pet-sitting business, Cat and House, about a decade ago. He had been caring for our cats Jasper and ZenaB, Spot the pleco, and various goldfish for the past four years. He came very highly recommended by my friend Regina. Pat was as concerned for his client’s pets as he was his own (11 at the time of his death). The amazing people at Kingstowne Cat Clinic (where we take our cats) are arranging for foster and permanent placements of his cats. He took care of many of our neighbor’s cats as well. Last winter Michael and I were out of town and hired Pat to take care of the pets. While away, our area had a record 30+ inches of snowfall. The roads were inaccessible, so Pat walked miles through the snow to take care of our pets and others in the neighborhood. Now that is dedication! Even when I would warn him that one of the goldfish might not make it (suffering from one various malady or another), he still felt bad if it expired on his watch. Before each pet-sitting gig, he would ask, “no fish are gonna die on me this time, are they?” He also threw in garden watering and houseplant watering when we were gone longer than a few days. Everything living in our house thrived in his care.

I was out of town this week, so I couldn’t attend the outdoor memorial that Kingstowne Cat Clinic arranged this past Wednesday. My good friend Jeff was there and reported the following:

“It was a very nice event. The first hour or so was largely taken up by people telling stories about Pat, many cat-related, of course, but also all the other ways he touched their lives. My contribution was telling the story about how when Regina and I were trying to settle on a pet sitter, we had one that didn’t work out and met one or two who just didn’t give us the right vibe, but that when we met Pat we instantly were taken by what a nice guy he is and when Dusty walked up to check him out I said “if he licks you, you’re hired” (or something to that effect) and that moments later Dusty did just that, and we had a new pet sitter. I also mentioned that when I learned the lengths Pat went to get to places to take care of Lilly and other cats during the blizzards that I was not at all surprised and that I knew I had one kick-ass pet sitter (after that line I turned and apologized to the priest who was there for the service—that got a good chuckle from the crowd, one of many as there were a lot of very good, very funny stories that were told).

That priest did a very good job, and I liked how his sermon worked in themes about how people who deeply connect with animals tend to always be the really good people out there, and mentioning more than once that the best way to honor Pat is to take those things that were good about him into our lives and make ourselves better people, and as a result, be a real part of Pat’s legacy. He wasn’t too dogmatic or preachy, which I think we all appreciated.

Good turn out. And a ton of kudos to Kingstowne Cat Clinic for bringing it off wonderfully. Pat’s aunt mentioned that she arrived, she was bewildered and barely functional, and told how the Kingstowne folks, especially Randi, embraced her and helped in so many ways. They really went above and beyond.

I definitely got a bit verklempt during the proceedings and was very glad I could make it.”

On a memorial board to Pat, one of his friends posted this beautiful Native American Prayer:

I give you this one thought to keep,
I am with you still, I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not think of me as gone—
I am with you still—in each new dawn.

Pat was infinitely dependable, endlessly compassionate, a supreme lover of animals, funny and a truly sweet person. I feel privileged to have known him and so very grateful that he loved our pets as much as we do. We love and miss you, Pat—Cindy, Michael, Jasper, ZenaB, Spot, and Goldilocks