15 years. That's a long time. You can pay off a mortgage, watch a child grow from baby to first date, see a friend's marriage start and end and if you are lucky, you can spend it with someone awesome.
15 years was the gift we got from Spike. Even though he was an outdoor cat, he cheated the odds and got a 15 year run of it. We like to say that the things that kept him alive so long were pure moxie and an uncanny ability to look both ways when crossing the street.
Spike lived most of his days on his own terms. There were no rules for Spike that were not utterly self directed. He was footloose and fancy free and he liked it just like that. When he came in the house to warm up, nap and socialize, it was by his own choice. He accepted pets from the humans an ear nuzzles from both dogs until he tired of them and coolly padded off to a corner of the floor where the heating pipes ran and he could tuck his legs under him so that he looked like a furry, sleeping roast beef.
He took his leave of this world last week when age and kidney failure got the best of him. His last day was awful, but every day that preceded that was joyful and much, much hipper than thou. So it was with sadness and tears we had to let him go, but there are nothing but smiles and laughs as we look back at what an awesome character and fantastic family member he was.
Spike lived most of his days on his own terms. How many of us can say the same?