Monday, October 27, 2008

Gram's Best Friend

Mom has always loved cats, but Dad, being a farm boy, had little interest in domesticated animals. In fact, he once told a story of how he poured gas on a cat and lit it on fire. (I don't know if he was kidding or not, but he sure laughed hard when he told the story.) Anyway, about twenty years ago, maybe because Michelle was the spoiled baby the favorite the last one left in the house and there was more room, Dad consented to getting her a cat as a gift for some event or another. The cat (Misty) came from the Humane Society. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that her name was not a coincidence; she peed all over the place. As if that wasn't enough, she hated everyone except my mom, who loved her and tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the peeing habit. Eventually, Dad gave her (Misty, not Mom) the boot, and that was the end of cats in our least for a while.

Dad passed away in April, 2005. We hadn't even had the funeral yet when Mom, sitting quietly at the kitchen table, announced firmly, "I think I would like a kitty-cat!" Eager to help ease her grief over Dad, we embraced the idea, and soon, Mom was at the Humane Society, scoping out a potential new friend. A tiger with reddish fur and amber eyes snuggled up to her right away and did not seem to want to leave her lap. Reluctantly, Mom had to leave him until the required time period was up. The funeral took place in the interim, and Mom soon collected her "Jimmy-Cat."

Jimmy-Cat is a cute name, but really funny when you realize that my dad's name was Jim. Mom was adamant that Jimmy-Cat would be his name. (I wonder what Dad thought of that!) Jimmy was a steady companion from the start; rarely leaving Mom's side. She knew right away that they were meant to be together. He always runs to meet her when she comes home, leads her to her chair at suppertime, and spends hours in her lap. Whenever Mom is out of Jimmy's sight for a while, he comes looking for her, as if to check on her. She'll tell us, "Jimmy-Cat looks after me, just like your daddy did!"

Mom lovingly recalls the first time Jimmy-Cat showed compassion for her. "I was having a rough day;" she said. "just missing your dad a lot. I finally broke down, sobbing while sitting at the diningroom table. Suddenly, Jimmy (who had been sitting nearby) was at my side, putting his little paws on my leg as if to say, I'm here for you."

Jimmy likes to watch Packers games with Mom, too. However, he gets mad when she startles him with a cheer and scares him off her lap; he will give her a dirty look and refuse to return when that happens. When they're bored, Mom plays a chase game with Jimmy-Cat. She'll say, "I'mmm gonnnnnnna get you!!" and he will run and hide, over and over, peeking out to see if she is giving chase. Mom has all the time in the world to play with Jimmy; there are plenty of kitty toys in her living room to choose from. And Jimmy doesn't hock up hairballs all over the place, like most cats; Mom brushes him so often that he barely needs to groom himself! She also keeps a special little water fountain filled in the livingroom for Jimmy, since he likes his water nice and fresh.

Of course, these days, Mom's not chasing Jimmy around the house. She's laying low (healing nicely, thank you) and Jimmy is not far. Eventually, there will be no need for one of us to be with her round-the-clock. When that time comes, I will feel better knowing that Jimmy-Cat is watching over her, just as Dad probably is...A meow massages the heart. - Stuart McMillan

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