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  • Writer's pictureNuria McGrath

Facey McTracey: A rosebush grows in Dumfries

My father is a gardener, a horticulturalist even….to say the least, he has a green thumb.  When we moved to Dumfries, he tried in earnest to create a beautiful garden at our home.  He hauled in dirt, seeded the lawn, imported plants, and watered frequently.  The garden was nice enough but it never really flourished.   You see, the soil was not rich, it was not deep, it wasn’t fertile.  Facey McTracey, our beloved gray cat of 17 years, could care less about my father’s garden (although she did prance around it like she owned it but then again, she did that with everything).  Facey’s main focus was keeping her adopted daughter, Nunu (a young, reckless, and gorgeous white, caramel, and black calico cat), in check and making sure her ‘I tolerate you dog’, Sandy, did not overstep his status.  Facey was a senior citizen now. She had let go of her hunting days, and had settled into a life of leisure where her family loved her and her royal subjects adored her. 


One afternoon, perched in her garden, Facey watched Nunu sulking miserably with a cone of shame around her neck having gotten oil on her from sitting under a car.  “I told her not to trust cars”, Facey sanctimoniously thought to herself.  She glared at Sandy, our possessive and high strung white Cockapoo, as he went out for his afternoon walk making sure to lazily get up and step directly in his path as he walked by.  Facey then got to work taunting the leashed and tied up Whippet ‘Greyhound-like’ dogs that lived next door.  After she was done, she laid on the sidewalk and basked in the sun; she was thankful for her journey, thankful for her family, thankful for her challenges and triumphs, thankful for her life.  


This afternoon, however, the dog next door got the best of Facey Mc.  Tired of the flippant taunting, the dogs broke from their leash and attacked Facey; Facey had become the prey.  A neighbor saw the incident and was able to move the dogs away from Facey, the neighbor then feverishly knocked on our door to alert someone of the massacre at hand.  As my horrified 14 year old sister ran to get a blanket for the disheveled and badly injured Facey, the Grandmother of the Whippets frantically corralled the dogs and tied them up to the outside stairs.  Well, the dogs broke loose again and this time, they made sure Facey would never get up again, they killed her.  The neighbor that alerted us of the incident, offered to take my sister to the vet, this neighbor being someone that was unkind to us up to this point.  My baby sis accepted the offer, even then knowing that Facey was gone. 


My older sister picked me up from track practice and I noticed she was a bit somber.  After dropping off my friends, she told me that Facey McTracey had died.  I asked her how, thinking…Facey is 17, perhaps she had a heart attack, but then she told me the horrific events of the afternoon. I came home to the sound of my mother wailing as she stood over the balcony in the backyard asking God why?  Facey was my mother’s cat, she was our ‘mother’ cat, she was a member of the family.  Everyone’s heart was heavy that day.  

We decided to have a funeral for Facey McTracey.  My father and brother dug a grave for Facey in the upper left corner of the back yard.  We all cried and said final words to Facey as we laid her to rest.  After the service, my father took one of his rose bushes and planted it over Facey McTracey’s grave.  Over the years, that rose bush has blossomed into the most beautiful of all of the plants in my father’s garden.  It has come to be known as ‘Facey’s Rosebush’; it blossoms because it was planted on fertile soil.


What lessons did you learn from this story?


This is what I learned.


There was much irony in the life and death of Facey McTracey.   Facey was a born hunter; she was fantastic at hunting small animals.  This was her life’s purpose; she woke up excited each of her hunting days, ready to please her family with her next catch.  I was not surprised that she died the way she lived.  This is not to say that she deserved to die a violent death, it just seemed to be in alignment with who she was at her core.  

Facey was not just a hunter.  She was also a mother and a loving member of our family.  She planted many seeds of love in her adopted daughter Nunu and in her human children.  She showed me that one can change and evolve; Facey, a once firecracker of a cat, evolved into a loving, purring, and affectionate comforter.  When I saw that Facey’s rosebush blossomed into the most beautiful of all the plants in the garden, I felt it appropriate.  It was appropriate because Facey had planted many seeds in our lives and the rosebush symbolized the blossoming of those seeds.  I also felt overjoyed for although her spirit had ascended, she left us a magnificent reminder of her life.  


I also want to bring your attention to the neighbor, a person who had been bitter and unkind to us in the past.  Perhaps it was because she was elderly and we were being loud as we played outside.  Maybe she was stressed due to a strained relationship with her daughter.  None of that mattered on this day.  When faced with traumatic emergencies, humans seem to shed their alter ego, making way for the pure love spirit of our soul; a soul that has been waiting patiently to be let out to shine.  On this day, our neighbor was pure love and compassion, nothing more and nothing less. 


In life, as sure as the sun rises, we will be born and as sure as the sun sets, we will die.  What will we do during the day? How will we live our lives? What purpose will we bring to our life and the lives of others? These are the choices we are privileged to make. 


When we lose someone, the feeling of permanent separation is the toughest aspect of death.  It feels permanent.  However, when we look deeply, we can see that our loved ones have planted seeds in our lives that have changed us forever and those seeds and eventual plants are a reminder of the purpose they represented while on Earth.  Our loved ones are never far away. 

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