Lady “Paydee” Lettera, a native of Tucson, Arizona died Monday, February 18, 2008. She was two and a half years old. A family statement (written by me) reads,
"Paydee, a Maine Coon, was born approximately six weeks before August 13, 2005 when she was adopted by Nana and Papa (my parents). She was actually born a male cat, but due to some confusion, she was given a girls name before that fact was discovered. Trying not to confuse her anymore and out of habit and laziness of the family, she remained a "she" cat until her death.
Paydee was adopted to take the place of Lady, who went missing earlier that summer. My mother wanted to call her Lady Two but when she was gently discouraged (by me) and told that perhaps she should give the cat her own unique name, my mother settled on calling her Lady Paydee; really for no other reason but that it rhymed. And also, I think, to secretly pay homage to the original "Lady" and thinking she faked us all out.
My nephews, Nana’s three grandsons, wanted to get into the naming and thought she should be called Lady Paydee Katie; also because it rhymed. And really, what more can you expect from three boys under the age of six? None of them seemed to take into account that she was actually a he and continued to come up with girlie names, all suspiciously rhyming with Lady. Which would lead one to believe they were being coached by their Nana.
Since none of those other names seemed to work, she became known by her middle name, Paydee. During her life, she was also known to answer to Payds, Paydster, Paydie Poo, Poopster, goddamnsonofabitchcat and Paydie Waydie Woo Woo.
As Paydee got older, she decided to be bold and venture outside. She couldn't seem to walk upright, due to some undetermined fear, so she’d slink around dragging her belly across the dirt, staying low and safe near the ground. She looked ridiculous, but seemed to like doing it, so we didn't say anything to her. Going outside became an enjoyable way to spend a few minutes each day before heading back for a bite of Meow Mix and sip of cool water to nourish her for her afternoon nap.
Paydee possessed many talents. She became an expert at opening doors; no matter how snug they fit in the door jamb, she'd find a way to get them open. She would either jump up and wrap her paws around the doorknob, or slide her paw underneath, grab the bottom of the door until it popped open, and then slide her fat body through the narrow crack. Which I think was also a magic trick.
One of her favorite hiding places was inside the shelving unit that took up one entire wall of the living room. She would open the cabinet doors beneath the shelves, sneak inside and disappear for hours. The only evidence that she was there were little tufts of hair stuck to old photo albums and Johnny Mathis records. I don’t think she ever actually listened to those records since we never heard music coming from that room, but she certainly walked across every single one of them.
Paydee was like any typical housecat in that she loved to eat and sleep. She did both very well. One of her favorite treats was salad, with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We’re not sure, but we think she may have come from an Italian family; every once in a while, she’d even eat a meatball. She also enjoyed Ritz crackers and Italian bread. But the snack that really got her salivating were those little Pounce treats in the cylinder. They were the best; all we had to do was shake the can and she'd be running in place on the tile until she got enough traction to sprint to whoever held the goods.
She wasn't always very social, but whenever my mother had a play date with her grandsons, Paydee would be right there playing along side of them. The oldest loved to open his hand and feed her bits of salad, the middle one enjoyed tugging on her tail until she hissed at him, and the youngest enjoyed spending the afternoon with Paydee, sometimes doing dishes:
She was the epitome of a domestic animal, with more than her share of domestic duties, as you can see. Paydee also enjoyed working in the office (sitting at my mother's elbow as she sent e-mails), helping with the housework (sitting at my mother's feet while she cleaned the sinks, tub and tile), reading, crocheting and crossword puzzles (again, sitting at my mother's elbow while she did each task) and watching Law & Order (one of her favorite TV shows, watched while sitting on my mother's lap).
She followed my mother everywhere. She was always under her feet, circling around her legs as she cooked, talked on the phone or swept the porch. She would not go to sleep until my mother did, she would rush to the door when my mother came in from a day out or she'd sit on the desk in the art room as my mother painted and organized.
As I write this, I am sad that my mother is sad. Her favorite companion (well, besides her husband, of course) is gone. I always thought it was so ridiculous that people got so worked up over their pets but I am very attached to Paydee myself and feel a deep sadness that she is gone. I sort of get it now.
She was survived by Nana and Papa, The Three Grandsons, Eddie and I and my brother and his wife. She was buried this afternoon on the family property and will have a small ceremony tomorrow which will be attended by Nana, Papa and the Grandsons. They will mark her grave with colorful hand painted pavers and plastic flowers that are one of my mother's gardening specialties.
Paydee will be missed by all who knew her, snuggled with her, fed her salad and did household chores with her. May these memories provide comfort in this time of sadness and missing and perhaps someday subside to make way for Lady Paydee The Third....or perhaps another charming little kitty that will bring string and brightness into our lives.
May Paydee stretch on in kitty heaven forever..."