J. E. Bright

The Story of Bernie

J. E. Bright author photograph    

The Bernie Shrine

Dear silly boy kitty . . .

I miss you.



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My beloved cat Bernard, who stars in the photographs in Bernie's Best Jokes, was an incredibly friendly and funny feline. He unexpectedly passed away in 2016 when he was not quite 5 years old. I dedicated the joke book to Bernie to honor his foolishness and thank him for all the laughter.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of him here. More than anything else, he always wanted everyone around him to be having a good time.

Click any picture to embiggen it to its full size.


Bernie kitten on the sofa back.

One of Bernie's earliest pictures, soon after I adopted him. That space on the top of the sofa remained a favorite place his whole life.


Bernie kitten on the striped bed.

Another kitten picture. He was fast and playful and it was hard to catch him sitting still.


Bernie in the bathroom sink

The bathroom sink was a favorite sleeping place, too, even after he had grown too big to totally fit in it. He was obsessed with the faucet and would sit on the edge and watch the water trickle out of it for as long as I left it on. Sometimes he'd bat at the streaming water, or try to catch the bubbles by the drain . . . and always be surprised when the bubbles stopped and his head got wet when he blocked the stream.


Bernie's head popping out from under the couch.

It's kind of difficult to tell what this is, but it's one of my favorite pictures of Bernie. It's taken from the couch, looking down the back toward the rug. Bernie has his head sticking out from under the sofa, lying on his back, looking up with that goofy grin.


Bernie chill on the couch.

Bernie chill on the bed.

Little man could be very chill and contemplative, too, zoning out, thinking those deep kitty thoughts. When he was particularly zen, he'd cross his paws.


Bernie getting strange.

Then there were days when he was really weird. He made bizarre, doofy faces that made me laugh so hard. Here he's sitting on my lap against the desk, mugging ridiculously. His bottom lip is low and flat like that because his fangs grew too large for his mouth and pushed it down.


Bernie on his back, bed.

Bernie on his back, rug.

As any cat owner will tell you, a cat rolling on it's back, exposing its tummy, isn't always an invitation for a belly rub. Sometimes, if you try, you'll get your hand stuck in a claw trap. (My cat Mabel will slice you to ribbons if you dare.) But you could put your face on Bernie's stomach and he'd just purr in his broken, rough rumble.


A lot of the time, Bernie seemed confused and dizzy. He'd tilt and wobble, and he walked with a wiggly strut that looked like John Wayne's mosey. I've never met a more bewildered cat. It was like a clown performing slapstick sometimes.


Bernie watching in bed.

Most mornings, I'd wake up with him watching me intently from between my feet on the bed.


Dramatic Bernie on a chair in shadow.

Dramatic Bernie on a kitchen stool in sunlight

Then he'd be in an even more dramatic mood.


Near the end, he often got wild and crazy eyes, and his teeth started looking really uncomfortable. I would whisper to him affectionately, "You've got brain problems," and tap his temples. I meant it as a loving joke, but sadly it turned out to be true.

Only a few weeks after this picture, Bernie had 24 hours of awful intense seizures. The veterinarian said his brain was short-circuiting, and he had to be put to sleep.

That seemed impossible to me.

It still does.

The thing that made him so special was what killed him.


Bernie in the sun

All I can do is remember him, and share the laughter and light he brought to my life.


J. E. Bright and Bernie

I know someday Bernie and I will hang out again.



Copyright © 2006-2018 J. E. Bright. All rights reserved.