And that old time feelin’
goes sneakin’ down the hall,
Like an old gray cat in winter,
keepin’ close to the wall.
— the prophet guy clark
When I first met Ghost, she was a scrawny stray cat who had figured out a couple of softies in San Angelo would feed her with no obligation of affection or attachment. She’d just show up, order takeout, and take off.
She would eye me suspiciously when I came to visit, sort of like the cops when I’m running around the bird loop next to the Boys & Girls Club in Scottsdale. She would keep her distance, maybe 6 feet or so, and made it known that the little stick on the tree next to the porch was a better scratching pad than I could ever hope to be.
I loved that cat.
Fast-forward several years and a few cat lives. Ghost and I had long since become best friends. As it turns out, she’s totally a lap cat who would always appear out of thin air to hang with me until I had to go inside, where she wasn’t allowed. OK, she wasn’t allowed inside unless June was out of town.
I loved that cat. I might have mentioned that already.
Rick and June were moving. The three dogs had been dispatched in advance to Oregon, but no word about Ghost. As they pared down for a move halfway across the country, I feared the worst. Mo brought it up with June at some point but didn’t get much of a reply. I was too scared to ask.
Farm folks are an odd lot. Dogs are family members, while cats are farmhands, in charge of mice and living under the house. I feared the worst, that Ghost would be left behind with the discarded screwdrivers and weed-eaters.
I tried to put a good light on it. Ghost was at heart a stray cat, living on the mean streets. She had a good run, and if it had to come to an end now, well, Mr. Young always said it’s better to burn out than to fade away.
But still, I couldn’t stop seeing her in my dreams, those big eyes looking up to assure me that no, June hadn’t really fed her 10 minutes ago at all, and yes, a can of food would be the perfect way to watch the sun go down.
I got a message yesterday that Rick and June had made it to Oregon. My mind drifted to where Ghost might be. Still standing at the screen door, looking up hopefully, not realizing the house was empty?
And then, today I got this text.
“Ghost is traumatized,” June wrote. “Captured, vet vaccinated, flown under an airplane seat, and dropped off in the Oregon drizzle.”
OK, this probably will cost her another one of her nine lives. But totally worth it.
In a year of sadness and desperation, a scrawny little ball of fur makes me so happy. Local mice, beware.
And, or course, this means I will have to go visit after all. I never cared much for Rick and June.
But I love that cat.
ummmm, isn’t that my flannel shirt?