BURLEY, 1995 -
November 17, 2009
I found Burley today.
She had been missing since
Saturday. But with 3 cats and a dog, it's not always obvious
where everybody is. We started looking around yesterday,
thinking she must be snoozing in a laundry basket. When the
home inspection didn't turn up a contented cat, we started
looking outside, we sent emails, and we even posted a notice
on facebook. Then we got a voicemail from a neighbor who saw
Our neighbor told me that,
on Saturday afternoon,
her children saw
a dog attack and kill a cat on the property behind
our townhouse in Hawthorne Court. The boys said it was a
"bigger," brownish dog. When they chased the dog away, he
ran back into Hawthorne Court by crawling under the fence
behind the property (so he couldn't have been too big).
For the rest of the afternoon, our neighbors tried to find
the owners of the dog and cat. They
even came knocking on doors at Hawthorne
Court - to no avail.
After our neighbor told me what
happened, I recovered Burley's body and cleaned
her up to be buried. So, I'm very sad.
I got Burley in 1995 when I was a
summer intern for North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley B. Mitchell, Jr. I couldn't decide what to name her, so the
women at the
Supreme Court Clerk's office suggested I name HER after the
Chief (who was a HIM...and an avid hunter/outdoorsman). Sounded crazy to me, but
they insisted that it was brilliant and that the Chief would
love it. I nervously asked the Chief if it was okay to name
a female kitten after him, and he asked - with dry humor and feigned derision - "so why would you want to go
get a cat?" Then he consented in his stoic way.
The next day, the Chief's wife, Lou, called me. She wanted
to see her husband's name sake. Lou and I quickly became
friends. A couple of years later, the Mitchells invited me
to escort their daughter to the state inaugural festivities.
We dated occasionally when she was in town. And I went on to clerk for the Chief after
finishing law school and became good friends with the
family. It was one of the most important experiences and
friendships of my life. All the while, "Little Burley" was
catalyst in a great story.
Burley was a cool cat. She
followed me around as if she were a dog, and she came when I
whistled. She'd sit on
my shoulder like a parrot while I walked around the house. Sometimes, she'd sit on the back of a chair or sofa and lick
my hair as if she were grooming
me. She'd lay in my lap and purr while I clipped her
claws. She didn't like baths, but she never fought it.
When she got older and had hyperthyroidism, she'd come
running to me when I shook her pill bottle and always
swallowed the pills without any drama.
Burley never met a stranger. Whether we had a single guest or a house full of people,
she'd come around to introduce herself and make friends. But unlike virtually every other cat in the world, she
didn't like to be scratched on her hind quarters - which her
new friends usually realized the hard way.
When I went to the animal
shelter in Chapel Hill looking for a kitten, I had it in my
mind that I wanted a Siamese. They had a couple, but
for some reason, it just didn't work out. But on my
two or three trips to the animal shelter, there was this one
mischievous little grey kitten who would reach out of her
cage each time I walked by and gently grab my sleeve with
her claws. When I took her out of her cage, she
clearly loved to play, but she also loved to nestle and
purr. It didn't take long for me to decide.
Burley was a great companion for
14 years. I guess what I understand now
is that Burley found me, not the other way 'round.
"A righteous man cares for the needs of
his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."