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The Cat House

 

There is this very old stone house that still stands in one of the oldest neighborhood on the island just on the outskirts of the Medieval Town-the place I proudly call "Home". Almost twenty-five to thirty years ago when I was still a young child this house was a popular meeting place for kids my age who loved cats and enjoyed Yiannis' stories about the lost ships and their buried treasures deep in the ocean.

The elder man lived there with his wife, a fragile woman who kept to herself most of the time. He loved cats and for that reason, the overgrown garden became a shelter for strays of any age and color.

The old couple would spend most of the day in the safety of that garden behind the tall stone fence or rather, the "protective wall" that kept them at a safe distance from the few bad neighboring "eyes". I visited them every single day until finally my presence became an important part of their everyday life. Yiannis would not feed the cats unless I was there to "help" him. Then, he'd rush inside the kitchen, prepare the "elaborate meal" and start calling out to them to approach his porch, "Psss...Pssss...Pssss..."

Often he would wait until I was there to keep an eye on his beloved wife, Katerina, before he left his fortress for a quick glance at the "world outside" and Katerina would not bake the sugar cookies if I didn't share them with Yiannis.

It must have been during my last year of grammar school when I once again opened the front gate to pay another of my highly anticipated visits to the "grandparents". It took a simple, quick look at Yiannis' face to realize that something was terribly wrong-a suspicion that soon because bitter knowledge for me. He was sick!

"The doctor wants me back for more tests but I'm not going", he plainly stated as I remained quiet.

"The wife's also sick, her bones are growing old-they're wearing out-she'll have to stay in bed more often".

I tried uttering a word but my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the elder's hand gesture. I kept silent watching him disappear into the kitchen once again.

Time passed, the neighbors began spreading the news about the elder's deteriorating health. His son, they whispered, forced him to see the doctor but to no avail. "He's got cancer", they said.

I kept my daily schedule and made sure to always be punctual during my visits to the Stone House only now I was the only visitor allowed. Yiannis seemed withdrawn, easily irritable. It would slowly take him ages to prepare the gourmet-meal for his four-legged companions and stood on the porch when calling them to dinner.

It was a Saturday when I woke up with an uneasy feeling as if something terribly bad was going to happen. I immediately brought Yiannis to mind and wonder what he was doing since his Katerina was in hospital for treatment. I quickly jumped out of bed, grabbed the left-overs from the previous night and ran to the Stone House forgetting all about breakfast. The front gate was locked from the inside. I yelled his name but got no reply. It took me no more than a brief moment of hesitation and I was up on the tree, onto the fence wall and into the garden.

I called his name again but still no sound of him when I glanced at the front door to see the keys being on the outside. I turned the knob and walked in.

I remember seeing his Sunday shoes first before my eyes followed his silhouette hanging from a rope from a beam up on the ceiling. I dropped the bag as my eyes met his-wide open and distorted, looking in the vast emptiness around him.

I ran back home to tell my parents and watched from inside my bedroom window as people were gathering outside his home and others in uniform came to take him away.

Years passed with people telling Yiannis' tale of how his love for his wife made him end his life for fear that he would become a burden. The house aged, Katerina perished but the cats still remained multiplying in numbers.

I never stopped visiting "the shelter", feeding his beloved strays but each time I'm there I sense him around peeking through the rusty kitchen door that hangs low from its hinges. I have never "seen" him but I have heard him once, I'm sure. It was late one afternoon that I once again walked through the front gate with another bag of food. I had my back turned to the kitchen as I was dividing the portions when I clearly and distinctly heard his "calling" fill the air.

"Psss...Pssss...Psss" and the cats all vanished from my side to line up on the kitchen porch.

I froze for a moment when the sound echoed again, "psss...pssss...pssss!" I left the food down and approached the porch. I called at the cats. They turned looked at me and turned back to face the dark interior behind the rusty door.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, rhodes68, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

reddysteady (5 stories) (95 posts)
+1
5 years ago (2012-08-01)
What a gem of a tale! I'm terribly sorry that you lost your "grandfather" in such a violent way; I felt warmth while reading this, however, with thinking about the dedication and love of a husband for his wife - and a man with his cats. 😳 Truly a lovely, eerie, sad tale - my humblest of thanks!
angelus_crudus (3 stories) (35 posts)
 
6 years ago (2012-01-16)
wow thanks for sharing such a personal story, very creepy. I'm a cat lover and as such I hope that old man, a fellow cat guy find peace soon.
Alice787 (2 stories) (5 posts)
 
7 years ago (2011-05-18)
wow, creepy story! I would faint if I saw a man hanging like that. I would love to read more of you're stories!

P.s I'm also Greek, (my name is Aphrodite:)
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
8 years ago (2009-06-29)
Jasmin, you catch me off guard with your comment!

Thank you so much for your words although I'm far from being wise my friend!

I'm forever seeking answers to my questions and although that proves to be more than a challenge at times, I will keep on walking that path until I come even a step closer to where my heart desires!

Thank you!
Jasmin314 (13 stories) (210 posts)
+1
8 years ago (2009-06-22)
Rhodes68, thank you for sharing this story. I understand what it is like to lose a close friend. Thank you for you commitment to this site. So many of us have learned so much just by reading your stories and taking your comments into consideration. I hope that the rest of the YGS members appreciate your wisdom, commitment and compassion as I have. ❤ Jasmin
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-15)
Kecoughtan, thank you!

Yes, you're absolutely right, "haven" or "refuge" is a much more appropriate word.

I'm surprised you "felt" the difficulty and hesitation behind my words. It is a painful and frightening memory to recall that particular day but it is more difficult to share the story of a man who had such impact on my life by simply "narrating" the events without fully communicating my own feelings.

I have never spoken to anyone about him before as being face to face with your "audience" can be too revealing. I thought that words on a page would serve the purpose of telling his story while hiding my own feelings. Hmmmm, I didn't hide them from you I see 😊.

Thank you again for your comment-it really moved me!
Kecoughtan (1 stories) (211 posts)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-15)
Thank you for sharing such an intensely personal memory with us, rhodes. I can not imagine what it was like for you to experience this, and I believe your decision to share it bespeaks of your commitment to this site. As so many others have observed, the circumstances surrounding Yiannisi are tragically sad. But like you and whitebuffalo, I also see the great love and conviction in what Yiannisi did. He courageously choose action and sacrifice, and he did so fully cognizant and committed to others. Eddie Richenbacker, the top American ace in the First World War, once described courage as "doing what you're afraid to do." I am certain Yiannisi was scared, but I think he was more concerned with becoming a burden to his family, friends, and beloved wife. You used the word "shelter" to describe his enclosed courtyard protected from the heat and wind. On this side of the Atlantic, shelter is often used to describe a wooden structure without walls constructed on posts that support a roof to shelter picnicers from the sun and rain. In the case of Yiannisi's courtyard I, personally, prefer refuge or haven, and I can not help but see the stout encompassing walls as the arms of Yiannisi protecting those that he loved most.
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-05)
kcampbell hi and thank you for your comment. It is very sad indeed but it wouldn't be fair if we judged someone based on what WE might have done in his shoes. It was a different time and Yiannis was used to another type of norms. It was those norms that determined the way he lived and behaved. If I could change something it would have been to change the diagnosis of that medical test and write "flu" on it.
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-05)
Welcome back Autumn, no need to apologise! I know you to be a very emotional person as I am:when I'm sad or happy you can tell from a mile away. I know you picked up on the emotions so it was only expected you would be overwhelmed.

You know I sometimes wish he had been more "open" about his feelings too but then I wonder... Would he still be Yiannis? So unique? I doubt it. He lived according to his values and I admire him for that even if I might have reacted differently.

He loved to give joy but hated to be the source of unhappiness in others. I'm proud he accepted me as his friend!
kcampbell (19 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-05)
It's so sad. If I see a person, that I know, that does that I would throw a fit and I would cry for a whole years! And I would stay at that person house for 3 hours and when this person pop out of nowhere I would really be like "how could you really do this?"
whitebuffalo (guest)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-05)
Boy, a day makes a difference, let me tell you 😆.
Oh, to tell you the truth, I got both of their emotions VERY strongly through this retelling, but the strongest one was HIS. He was so confused, so hurt, so frustrated, and he KNEW this was the only solution. He did not want her to suffer, and the only way to keep the hurt out of her eyes, and the disappointment as well, was...
I just feel so bad that no one was able to see, and to help him through all of the emotions that were literally pulling him apart. He did not want to leave her, he LOVED her. He did not want to be a burden to her, HE was the strong one.
I get the STRONG feeling, though that he was a great "hider". He kept his thoughts and emotions to himself, as that would have been a "male weakness", and a different form of burden. People like him tear me up the most, as in their thoughts their emotions are irrelevant. But when they finally get released, they are overpowering and seem to explode.
What a wonderful friend you had there, Tammy.
I am sorry my emotions got in the way.
Autumn
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-05)
Chris thanks for your kind words and yes, I too believe that Yiannis is happy to know that his deserted house still remains a shelter for the neighborhood strays. He was a loving man in life so he can't be but a loving warm energy.

The memories I have of him are indeed bitter-sweet. I try to focus on the good times as I'm sure he would have wanted me to.

Thank you my friend.
ChrisB (6 stories) (1515 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-05)
Hi Tammy. I'm so happy to see you 😁 I can only say that I'm very sorry for your loss. It must have been a tragic moment in your life. I'm glad that you still visit that place everyday. Not just to feed the cats but to remind your self of the goodtimes and sadly the bad times. I'm glad that Yiannis comes to see his cats. It shows how simple things for people can be so special. I'm glad you sharred this story with us. It realy is incredible. You realy do have a good heart. Kepp Yiannis happy. Dont forget about the cats. I hope to hear from you soon Tammy and take care
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Autumn, I wouldn't ever want to be in Katerina's shoes either! I wouldn't want to be deprived of the right to fight for the one I love, to fight against the odds and finally get my chance to accept fate and say my goodbyes.

But I think I also understand Yiannis as well;he didn't want to prolong her suffering, watching her losing him every single day a little more. He wanted to go while he was still in the position to make that his conscious decision, to be remembered as the man he had always been:the fighter, the provider, the foundation of his household. For Katerina to know that she would have to ultimately say goodbye, a knowledge that would have been confirmed every single day, might have made her more vulnerable and unwilling to fight her own battle later.
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Menie, I sense "a presence" but that may be attributed to the fact that I heard him that one time so I knew he was there then. The cats don't line up on the porch anymore which is good news but... I get an intense feeling of sadness and abandonment when I see the aged house. It seems to be stripped from the love and care since Yiannis' times. The question is:am I projecting my own feelings on that house or is the house "telling" me something?
Surya (39 stories) (867 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
whitebuffalo
No need to apologise. Looks like we both needed to walk away. I am to a little shaken by what I felt through your words. As long as you are ok now. 😉
whitebuffalo (guest)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Sorry, Surya.
I did not mean to project it that far.
Generally, MOST people can not "feel" my words. 😊
I actually had to walk away from the room, and into a different section of the house for a few minutes.
This poor man. I can just...
Thank you, I am ok.
Surya (39 stories) (867 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
whitebuffalo
Wow steady on! You ok, take a few deep breathes. You ok now. God you have me shaking. I picked up anger, upset from you. I think I go outside for a bit. Please let me know you are ok,
whitebuffalo (guest)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
I am sorry, I was emotional when I wrote that last comment.
The last sentences SHOULD have read "He HAD to do this before his son came to visit. He HAD to do this... FOR them."
Sorry, I was typing while trying to stop the shaking, and wiping tears from my eyes.
I screwed up, sorry.
😊
whitebuffalo (guest)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
No, you do not, Tammy.
I felt it all. The chills are still running up and down the entire length of my body, and I tell you, THAT is why I could not comment.
What an emotional, and totally "unselfish" thought pattern that he was having. Good Lord, I would not EVER want that to happen to me. To sit and think repeatedly about what you have caused for your family, even as it was NO fault of your own.
His decision was not a light one. It was not a spur of the moment, "Let's end this now". Oh MY, his last THOUGHTS were of his "Dear, Sweet Katerina."
He HAD to do this BEFORE she returned from the hospital. He HAD to do this before his some came to visit. He HAD to do this... FOR them.
Wow.
Thank you again.
Surya (39 stories) (867 posts)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Atherfee,
The dark abandoned kitchen is a lonely place to call home for you and anybody else who enters the property, but for Yiannis and his cats it will always be home. You question his existance, Of course mora he continues to exist, he exists through you, the memories he has left with you, his exists through his cats and all those who visit the garden. Atherfee, when you enter the garden what do you feel? Does anything you feel make you doubt they are both in a better place and happy?

Menie
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Autumn, you had me reading your second paragraph over and over again not in an attempt to understand it but mainly in an attempt to control the emotions it provoked!

It takes a very deep, profound and unconditional love to sacrifice your own life for the comfort of those you love. I cannot though find the words to describe the love of a man who not only wished himself a decent life and a dignified death but to also spare 'his Katerina' the pain of the slow agonizing death he was about to suffer.

It's been a few years ago I learnt something that made me pause and looked back to my own life-my own memories: he had told his son that he would not live to see the pain in the eyes of those he loved when they would wake up one morning to find him not remembering who they were and how much they meant for him... (brain cancer)... Need I say more?
whitebuffalo (guest)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
I honestly have to say that the reason I have not commented on this story, as of yet, was because I was overcome with emotion as I first read it. I thought the second time would be easier, but it was not.
How tragic, those last few moments of his life. How terrifying to think that you would be a burden to the love in your life. How guilty he must have felt for "turning the tides" and becoming the one who needed care, and not remaining the one who was the caregiver. Such a dynamic man, who really thought naught of himself, only in the "comfort" of his wife.
You brought to mind a story from my early teen years in which the prosperous business man, and husband to my Mothers best friend, took his own life (in the same manner) and for a very similar reason. I was not overly close to the Father, but I was to his children.
Thank you for sharing this. I could imagine the catch of breath, the freezing of the limbs, and the slow, but determined turn to look at the cats on the porch.
He was there, Tammy. There is no denying it. What a blessing for you to know that he is no longer suffering. Emotionally, mentally and physically, as well.
Thank you.
Surya (39 stories) (867 posts)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Atherfee, for sure Yiannis new you would continue to feed his cats. Yiannis and his wife let you in to their lives. Yiannis would wait for you to arrive before feeding the cats, and Katerina would not bake those mouth watering sugar cookies if they were not going to be shared.

Atherfee, I think Yiannis new he or his wife would not be around much longer, maybe that is why he started to wait for you before feeding the cats so they would know that when he was not there they would have you to feed them. I don't think Yiannis wanted you to find him the way you did, he did have a son and it could have been his son who found him. I don't think he thought about anyone when he made that decision, I know that may sound horrible, but it is the way it is. I am sorry you are living with that memory now.

I noted you said you go for two reasons, Atherfee, there is only one reason you should be going for and that is to feed the cats Yiannis so dearly loved. There should be no second reason because deep down inside we know Yiannis is still there watching his beloved cats and watching the little girl taking care of them as he knew you would. You heard him once, and you probably are hearing him everytime you go, don't listen so hard, it is when we listen to hard, there are so many conflicting noises.

I am positive he is happy wherever he maybe, one things for sure, he is in his garden or kitchen watching over his cats and his little girl as well as all those sweet ladies as well.
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-04)
Thank you ghostseer for reading my experience. It is, ideed, an ugly memory but most of all, it was a true waste of a life! I just hope he now rests in peace.
ghostseer (41 stories) (408 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-03)
Wow...intense, Loved this story!...Thanks so much for sharing. Suicide is never the answer, and the fact that you found him hanging, what a crushing memory. I know how that feels. Blessings, Ghostseer...P.S., I was worried when I saw the title, " Cat house "...wink-wink
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-03)
Bette, he died when I was around 12, I still go to feed the strays that continue to seek shelter in his garden 28 years later if you exclude the very few years I lived in the States and in Australia.
bette31 (9 stories) (127 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-03)
rhodes-He knew you would come over that day and that is why he left the keys on the outside of the door. He knew you would come inside and check on him. In a way he wanted you to find him and in a way, he didn't. How long after his passing did you continue to feed the cats?
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
+1
9 years ago (2008-11-03)
Bette31-it's such a pleasant surprise to hear from you again! Thank you for commenting on my story!

I used to believe he didn't know since he was heard preparing his own "elaborate meal" but then I never heard him again or I think I haven't heard him again so I sure hope he knew I was there that day as every other day. He was an honest, decent man-one of the very few people I've missed. I hope he's in a better place.
bette31 (9 stories) (127 posts)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-03)
rhodes-Thank you for sharing this story with us. I'm sorry to hear how your friend thought that he would be a burden on his wife and decided to end his life. He knew that you would still come by to take care of his smaller friends.

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