Boston has held a special place in my heart for many years now. Back around 2003 I began organizing a trip for my 8th grade classes to visit the Boston area and made it our on the road classroom for a few few days each Fall.
From the first visit I became absolutely enamored with the city. I have lost count how many times I've actually trekked the entire Freedom Trail, but for me it's never something I tire of. Naturally, being the cemetery obsessed guy that I am, any trail that includes burial places, provokes a certain morbid giddiness.
The one stop that I have always enjoyed is Old North Church of "One if by land, Two if by sea" fame. The entire place is steeped in history and sitting in one of its box pews is like stepping into a small time capsule. It's impossible not to think of the many people who have sat in the same place over the past 250 years.
Admittedly, one of my favorite things about a visit to Old North Church through the years was a visit by the resident feline, Prince. He graced Old North with his presence for several years, often strolling in like he owned the place, which yeah, he sort of did. My visits with students often included some time petting Prince and having a photo shoot.
People often like to describe themselves as either dog or cat people, but I can't seem to make a true choice. I grew up with both, but now with my husbands job and the fact that I travel so much for work, cats are much more practical since they can fend for themselves a few days at a time as long as there's food, water, and some clean litter.
This past summer has been rough. My beloved cat Sparky died suddenly while I was still away giving tours in Washington D.C. Friends of mine will tell you that I had an obsessive love for Sparks. He had been with me through so many life events both good and bad. After arriving home, we adopted another kitten to keep our other cat, Ernest company.
Although Sparky was much loved by me, I knew that our time was going to be limited. Ernest was truly our "couple cat". When we adopted him, he was so small that we had to bottle feed him and rub his little belly to teach him to poop. Ernest was quite simply the perfect cat. He was the ultimate snuggler and approached each day with an enormous sense of gratitude. Hell, he hit the jackpot with two gay dads!
Soon after Sparky died, Ernest began to wind down and just sort of gave up. Multiple health issues came out of nowhere and we had to put him to sleep just three weeks after we lost Sparky. It was the ultimate in cruel fate.
Last week I visited Old North Church and it was a bit bittersweet because I knew Prince had passed away. I had last seen him a few years back when I was in town giving a rather awkward tour to British people. They had most of the day for some independent exploration and naturally I ended up at Old North Church. In addition to the history I wanted to see Prince once again.
After searching the church, he was nowhere to be found and I asked a worker but they said they hadn't seen him that day. Feeling a bit disappointed I continued up the Freedom Trail to Copps Hill Burial Ground. As I was walking among the headstones and squinting my eyes to decipher some well worn epitaphs, I felt something brush against my leg. I looked down and there was Prince rubbing up against me. I was incredibly delighted to see him and I'd like to think he was happy to see me too, but you never know with cats. Prince became my little escort for the next hour walking through the graveyard.
I was saddened to learn that Prince died in 2016 and during each visit after I couldn't help but look for him. During last weeks visit I shopped my group the makeshift memorial for him and discovered that his collar and tag are still in place. An absolute fitting memorial to a prince of a cat.