Meditating on mortality, Walter Payton and the passing of Greg Freeman's kitties

Some faithful readers complained by e-mail and phone that last week's gratuitous cheap shot at P-D columnist Greg Freeman for doing his second dead-cat column in as many years was, well, a gratuitous cheap shot. Yes, indeed. There's no quarrel that death comes to us all -- cat, dog, hyena, man, woman, what-have-you. As the Rev. Jesse Jackson put it at Saturday's memorial service for Walter Payton at Chicago's Soldier Field, every tombstone lists a year of birth, a year of death and a dash in between. Jesse said you can't control when you are born or when you die; all you can do is make the most of that dash. He noted that Walter did that, as did Jesus, crucified at age 33; and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated at 39. Jesse's grouping of those three might seem odd, considering that Walter didn't change water into wine and didn't deliver any "I have a dream" speeches, but which of those three would you want to give the ball to on third down and short yardage? Sweetness. So Walter's dead, as are Greg's cats Bullwinkle and Maxwell. All you can do is make the most of that dash between birth and death, whether you're the son of God, a preacher, a football player or the cat of a columnist at a major metropolitan daily.

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