Everyone who knows me knows that it’s a cat’s world here at the Cottage. It all began more than 20 years ago with Bela (Lugosi) my older son’s cat that adopted us when we lived on Main Street in Chesterfield.
Just after we moved out to the country, Bela being the sole cat in the family, Ariel came to live with us. Mac, having retired from the Navy and now bored with having time he never expected to weigh so heavy on his hands, took a job with the county chain gang overseeing the prison camp inmates who did not go out on the road.
There was a mother cat there who had had her litter of kittens in an old abandoned car on the edge of the property. At about six weeks of age, they started coming onto the back porch at the camp kitchen to get leftovers the inmate cooks would leave them. One day Mac found that four of the five kittens had been run over on the little dirt road and killed.
There was one left, and he managed to capture her and kept her inside his coat for the last hour of work. I had already gotten home from my own job with the sheriff’s department when he came in. He walked into the dining room where I sat having coffee and opened his coat to reveal two huge green eyes attached to a ball of fur.
I sort of groaned my disapproval, all the while reaching for the tiny furball. This was in the end weeks of 1999. I took her to our vet and had her spayed, got all her shots and Bela took over the training of Ariel.
I was afraid he was going to kill her, but he was very protective of her. We had just lost our Digby, the Old English sheepdog, the month before, and Bela had gone slightly crazy with grief.
I say slightly, but that’s being kind. Bela went totally round the bend, once hitting Mac with a balled-up paw so hard it knocked his glasses off and left a red spot on the side of his face. Credit to Mac for not punching him back…but Bela took to the tiny Ariel like he was her father.
The little black kitten grew, but not very much. She was tiny and slender, the only cat I’ve ever seen with such a pronounced profile, and ruled this place with an iron paw. She was 19 years old in September when we lost her a few years back.
She sat with me at the computer when I blogged, so picture me typing and looking over Her Majesty as I try to make sure there are no typos. My girl started slowing down. She did little but eat and sleep. I knew that she was nearing the end and when it happened, there was no consoling Mac. She was such a central part of the family that it will take us a while to recover.
I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable, but I knew that when she left us, she would be joining Digby, Duffy and Ripley.
Bela, I’m not so sure — God may have him in purgatory for a bit, doing penance for smacking his master.
Sandi McBride is a resident of Jefferson who blogs regularly and enjoys her garden and her furry and feathered friends. She is a wife and mother of two sons.