A long time ago, when the earth was young (well, younger), Mrs. Jogger and I drove to her family's farm and brought back a kitten. At the time, we lived five or six hours from home, and Keisha, who was only a few months old, meowed the whole time. She never did learn to love the car, although she learned to tolerate it.
That was 1989. Keisha stayed with us when we moved to Madison so I could go to grad school, then moved to several different apartments in Madison. She stayed with us when we moved out to Nebraska for my first tenure-track job, then when we moved into our first house. That job proved to be temporary after all, and Keisha moved with us back to Wisconsin, to the house that we now live in.
Keisha was here for the arrival of each of the Little Joggers. She put up with them, even through their tail-pulling stages. She was the unwitting center of one of the highlights of my life. When the first Little Jogger was about three, and was still the only Little Jogger, we were in her room, playing library. The highlight of playing library was scanning the books, with a satisfying beep. Keisha, then a middle-aged cat, came in and started rubbing against our legs. The Little Jogger, in her sternest little toddler voice, turned to her and said, "Keisha, what are you doing in the library!"
Keisha welcomed (well, sort of) six younger cats into our household over the years. Two of those are dead, and another has recently moved on to live with Grandma Jogger and her housemate. She witnessed the arrival of frogs, hermit crabs, several rounds of fish, a turtle, and some snails. She always knew that she was number one, and she didn't particularly have to prove it.
These last few years, she's been a creaky old cat. This spring, she went all but blind. She wandered from her bed to her bowl to the litter pan (not a far toddle at all). If she accidentally got out of her zone, she'd meow helplessly, not sure how to even find her way back.
This morning, Keisha took her last car ride. She was up in the night, confused and scared, and Mrs. Jogger and I decided it was time to let her rest. We took her to the vet's office, and he quietly let her slip away. It was a very hard thing for us to do. I cried like a baby, and I'm tearing up now just thinking about it.