Our tour of Hemingway’s home was one of the best house tours I’ve ever had, thanks to our terrific guide, Doug.
There are 54 cats on the property, all descended from Snow White, Hemingway’s own polydactyl cat. Most of the cats have the polydactyl gene, and thus have 6 toes. They are carefully cared for, in fact three volunteers’ sole job is cat-caretaking.
The kitties are all named after movie stars. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are currently in charge of carrying on Snow White’s legacy. I assume the other cats were “tutored,” (a nod to that old Far Side comic). They live a great life, these cats.
Hemingway was truly one of those larger-than-life humans. How many of us can say we’ve had four wives? (not me!) How many of us can say we’ve been awarded a Bronze Star, a Pulitzer and a Nobel? Or survived 2 plane crashes, shrapnel from war wounds, multiple concussions? Not to mention his body of literature…
The tragedy is that Hemingway could not outwit his own genetic legacy ~ bipolar disorder ~ and alcoholism. He lost his father, brothers, sister and grand-daughter to suicide. He took his own life in 1961.
Although I knew the story, when our guide told the story of Hemingway’s suicide at the end of the tour, it made me very emotional. Hemingway suffered from chronic physical pain from his many injuries and chronic emotional pain from his mental illness. It all brought up many thoughts of my dear sister Lucy, as you might expect.
I’ll remember this tour fondly. A beautiful home in a tropical setting. An American literary legacy. Thoughts of my beloved Lucy. And the cats. If you knew Lucy, you know she would have LOVED those cats too.