All Cats and Dogs Go to Heaven

Uploaded new painting "All Cats and Dogs Go to Heaven." I was bereaved when my cat, Bu, was killed by a driver last year. Bu was the nicest fellow ever. He'd been abandoned as a kitten, probably because he suffered from epilepsy. He seemed at death's door when we found him in 1995, and we nursed him back to life. He grew to be what some may call an under-developed male, and he did not venture out to seek females and fight other males. I soon discovered that Bu was a very special cat. He took in three wild kittens and nursed them, like a mother would. They adored Bu, and they were always together. Bu refused to eat his meals until his kittens were fed. He was uncommonly gentle, but would courageously and effectively defend his kittens against other cats. Bu was my only friend during a very difficult time in my life. And Bu taught me much. I'd had several cats before--they tended to be street-fighters, and never lived long. Conversely, Bu, the gentlest, weakest-looking epileptic who once seemed fated for an early death, ended up living for 14, healthy years full of love. I took this as a very personal lesson--it has left a deep impression on me, and has changed the way I treat people. It seems Bu died instantly; I hope he didn't suffer. His sweet, tender heart that protects and cares for others will live on inside me, and in the hearts of all who see and recognize it in this painting. And whenever we are kind to others, I like to think that a little bit of Bu will live on. Again, I have included Malcolm, Staci's late, beloved goldfish. It's hard to describe what it feels like to watch someone lose what they love, even if it's a fish. Christians often read the fish as a symbol of the messiah, because in Greek, "ichthys" (fish) spells out an acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” And by extension, the fish may also represent the resurrection. I'm not religious, but I like the idea that Bu, with his life, taught me about love, and that love can be reborn inside me and others.

Painting is for me a way of doing something about things you can't do anything about. I can at least sing an ode to loved ones, and to all the beloved moments of life as they are irreversibly lost. It doesn't have to be painting--I suppose others do it by cooking or picking up the trash. The title is meant to be ironic, wishful, allegorical, pathetic, sacred, funny--all of the above, but mostly tragic.