Luke was probably the sixth kitten born of Kalice's litter, on April 30, 1989. I like to think so, anyway, since I missed the first five kittens' births. At birth, he was pure white; it wasn't until a few weeks later that his "flame point" coloring became apparent, tribute to Kalice's Himalayan background. We didn't plan to keep him, initially; we had four cats already: Dietrich, Tigra, Mishon, and of course, Kalice. Our efforts to find a home for him were proving to be vain, however. We even took him to church once, hoping to find a home among the members of the congregation. No go. We were beginning to wonder whether we really should keep him, or maybe do the sensible thing and take him to the Humane Society to be adopted, when Fate and a car intervened, killing Mishon one day after her last baby had been given away. In our grief, we knew we couldn't give Luke up; he had grown on our hearts and now we needed his young life to ease our pain.
Luke acquired his first three names in reverse order: when he was only a few days old, still blind, I would find him far from the nest of kittens, out in the middle of the room, where he had crawled and gotten "stuck". His cries brought me running, although Kalice was less concerned. She probably thought, "He got himself in this mess, let him get himself out!" I decided he was a regular little MarcoPolo, off to explore the world, so we started using that as a "working name" while he lived with us. Then, a while later, we started calling him Yoda, because he seemed to resemble the appearance of the wise Jedi master, (in fact, most kittens do, to some extent; take a look at a kitten around 2-3 weeks old and you'll see what I mean). Finally, as we began to realize he might be a permanent resident, we started calling him Luke, "shoulder-walker", reflecting his penchant for touring our shoulders when we sat or walked. Also, the baby-name book said it meant "Light", which seemed to fit his mainly white coloring. Snowball was an obvious reference to his color, and also referred to his fluffy fur, inherited from his mama Kalice.
Luke is a sweetie-boy; there's just no other description that will adequately tell you about his nature. He was timid as a kitten, letting his bigger and more rambunctious brothers Smokey and Bandit dominate him a bit. After they left for their new homes, he settled into his role as baby of the family quite well, enjoying the extra attention we seemed to naturally give him. We had one small scare, when a flea collar we had put on him became stuck in his mouth, hurting his lips a bit. We hated to think that anything would harm our baby guy, or that he might have been in pain for hours before we found him. He healed well from that, and seemed not to have been scarred emotionally.
When Luke was about nine months old, we became acquainted with Billy, who eventually became one of our gang. Although the two of them were approximately the same age, Luke usually deferred to Billy in play, letting him get the last meow in wrestling matches and other games. One day, however, Luke discovered he had grown bigger than Billy, who was a sleek, small-boned cat. Billy had begun to pick a fight with Luke, as was his habit every now and then, but this time Luke decided he had had enough. We watched in amazement as Luke "doggedly" pursued Billy through the house, with Billy skittering along in front of him in disbelief; Luke's head was down, tail down, and his gait was a steady, plodding, unrelenting walk. He finally got Billy cornered, and gave him a taste of all the pent-up frustration he'd been building! From then on, the two of them were great buddies. I think it was a matter of equals then; Luke had shown he was Billy's equal and would not be bullied.
Luke lost his best buddy in France when we had to put Billy to sleep. I didn't notice him grieving in particular, though I was watching for that. He just seemed to go on as usual, albeit none of the remaining cats became wrestling partners. Tigra, being the feisty little boss-kitty that she was, would sometimes try to put Luke in his place, bopping him on the head or hissing at him in a menacing way. Luke placidly tolerated her attacks, waiting for her to give up, then went on about what he was doing.
It was while we were living in France that Luke developed his cuddle habit. He would call to me, wherever I was in our house, and "invite" me to come into our bedroom. Once I was in there, he would jump up on the bed and wait for me to get "his" pillow; then, as I settled in next to him, he would knead the pillow and purr, gazing at me with half-closed eyes (the picture on the top of this page is what he looks like in his "cuddle mode"). He seemed to really enjoy this time together, and of course, so did I!