We were leaving on a 10 day camping trip to Colorado and packing for all 7 of us (yes, that was the year Lory Cory came with :)) left me with a wonderful excuse to postpone adoption. Surely, when we returned many days later, the cute little kitty would have surely found more suitable digs. Ah. Love it when it works that way....
On the way home, Baby Girl mentioned that she hoped 'her' kitty was waiting for her. We all smiled wisely, knowing that cats can be pretty fickle, especially when it comes to eating. She would have moved on. Surely.
The morning after our first night home, I headed to our kitchen to see if I remembered how to cook with actual running water and electricity.
Pouring the milk on my cereal, I heard it.
A plaintive little kitty size meow coming from the patio facing our kitchen window. Surely not. Surely not all this time.
A furtive peek out my window reveals the very determined kitty, staring a hole through me, as if to ask, 'Where have you been and where is my little girl???'
I sighed a deep sigh of resignation, knowing that a promise is a promise and we would have to work this out some how. I slowly warmed a bowl of milk in the microwave and headed to the patio to serve the persistent, apparently new member of our family.
Baby Girl could see from the stairway window that she had returned. She ran outside in her jammies and warmly embraced her new buddy. I shook my head and started the grand detail of unpacking after a long camping trip......
Miss Kitty was first christened Scarlet,named after the occupant of Tara, who proclaimed to all who would hear: 'As God is my witness, I shall never be hungry again!" The tenacious little kitty had spirit, spunk and an attitude that was much more suiting to a pedigree dog. We were all nice to her but distant, a feared of an allergy attack. Except Baby Girl. She was immune to the dander that caused such problems for the rest of us.
Kitty seemed content to have her place be in the garage. When the winds of autumn turned cold, Baby Girl was known to go out to the garage to do her school work to be with her....She would grab her jacket and an extra quilt and head to the garage, workbook and theme tablets in hand. She was known to eat her lunch with the demanding cat, much to the delight of her siblings. They intermittently thought she was nuts or adorable. It was cold out there, after all.
Northern Illinois Winters can come pretty brutal. We tried our best to protect the poor cat. An old army blanket placed over the table and many layers of flannel was placed on our front porch. Still, Baby Girl would check on her many times during the day and with a look of concern, ask imploringly, 'Are you sure you're allergic to cats??'
When a three foot snow and -30 degree weather howled at our door, Hubby declared, 'We have to bring that cat in; she is going to freeze.'
And we did.
And we weren't allergic...to her. For some crazy, providential reason, we were not bothered by our 'acrylic cat'.
As does happen, Baby Girl found her times with Miss Kitty becoming less of a priority. When BG did slow down, a nap would usually include her old friend finding her and curling up next to her. The sound of Baby Girl's voice after a long absence at high school, would find her rousting from her sunny resting spot, to her favorite person in the world. Miss Kitty loved everything about Baby Girl yet was never reconciled with the fact that she was growing up and away from her world. I believe that during her Kitty Naps, she would remember singing duets with Baby Girl, having a an affinity for the way Baby Girl sang 'You Light Up My Life'...Miss Kitty would come from faraway reaches to join her near the stereo, as she wound around and purred and meowed with Baby Girl's clear young voice....She would dream, I'm sure, of her old friend, our beloved dog, Tessa...It was Tessa who taught her how to survive living in a house with four children and countless childhood friends coming and going all the time...She watched how Tessa operated and she did likewise. They slept together, shared food and enjoyed each other in our busy home.
After our move from the Quad Cities, Miss Kitty was never the same. Our household altered and changed to a point that she found hard to accept. She didn't like to go outside much and when her beloved companion, Tessa, died, she was bereft. She would spend hours just staring out the window, pining for her northern home. When Stella joined us, she was a bit put out having to share her space, but Stella engaged her more in life. Stella loved Kitty, even on her last days, licking her ears and face in a sweet gesture to her sister. Molly the Beagle was a bit of a challenge and Kitty seemed to know that she was transitory. She dismissed her with an air of superiority and judgement. Molly was no Tessa. Miss Dixie was looked on as a noisy oddity.
And then, Scout joined us.
It was then that she threw up her paws in submission as if to announce that she had had it.
She was done.
She was not done 18 months ago when I took her to the vet to be put down due to her incontinent ways. No, it had to be her way.
No intervention. No bothering. She wanted to go her own way.
And she finally did this morning.
I told her that she could go. That Baby Girl was married now and that she knew that her hubby was someone she approved of. I petted her still cute little face and thanked her for her years of service. I thanked her for sleeping with sick children and keeping them company. For getting up with me when I could not sleep. For gardening with me and entertaining us with her attitude and prissy ways. For teaching us that when things seem absolutely unlikely,to give them a chance anyway, for God has a plan and a purpose.
As I dug deep underneath the forsythia bush this morning, as I prepared her resting place, it seemed so odd that she entered our lives via our backyard at a faraway location, that 16 long and busy years later, she would finish her time on earth in the same way. She would have liked it that way since she did not cotton to change much. I wrapped her still, tiny, body in a white pillowcase, and placed her deep within the earth near the blooming wisteria on the pergola. A fitting place for the private cat that she was.
Each year as the forsythia blooms and the fragrance of the wisteria wafts across the garden, I will remember the gift that Miss Kitty brought to all of us that knew her. And I will be thankful.....