Near 500 words: Motherhood

“I didn’t do it, Mommy,” seven-year-old Winnie said, looking up at her mother with those pitiful green eyes.

Pooch, the white mutt, leaned his head against Winnie’s.

Sandy stared down at her daughter. “What am I going to do with you? You need to come to Jesus, young lady.” Her hands were on her waist. She had that mother look that was anger. More than that, it was frustration.

Winnie reached around Pooch’s ear and scratched it gently.

“If you didn’t do it, who did?”

Winnie had an answer, but she wasn’t sure her mother would believe her. She gathered up her courage and said, “It’s a ghost.”

“A ghost? C’mon, Winnifred Ambrosia Mason. What are you talking about?”

“Mommy, it’s a ghost,” Winnie insisted as Pooch licked her ear.

Sandy wheeled around and went off into the kitchen. She poured a cup of coffee. Then she sat down at the kitchen table.

Winnie was quiet. That wasn’t good news.

Sandy yelled into the other room, “Go to your room before I kill you. If you don’t, I swear I will.”

She heard Winnie and Pooch head into her room.

Sandy drank her cup of coffee, then another, then another. Finally, she picked up the phone. “Bess, can you come over? Please.”

Bess was Sandy’s sister. She knew how to put the fear of God in a child. She had done it with her own three.

Fifteen minutes and Bess came through the front door. “Anybody home?” she called.

“I’m in here,” Sandy yelled back.

Bess walked past Sandy and went into the small cubicle that was the kitchen. “You drank all the coffee.”

Sandy was in no mood for Bess’ sass. No mood at all. “If I had a bottle of scotch, I would drink that too.”

Bess brought Sandy a new cup of coffee. “Here. Drink this.”

“No wonder Mom drank.”

Bess sat down across from her sister. “Okay, what has Winnie done now?”

“She says it’s a ghost.”

“A ghost?” Bess laughed. “That’s a new one. My kids never said anything about a ghost. Where did she get that idea?”

Sandy shook her head. “God only knows.” She sipped her coffee.

“You think she’s right.”

“Honest to God, no.”

“She’s a good kid.” Bess said, then took another drink from the cup. “Mostly.”

“It’s the mostly part I’m worried about.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“We?” Sandy said, then went silent.

Her sister reached over and squeezed her hand.

Sandy squeezed back. “One thing is for sure. I am not giving her to her father.”

“You want me to take her with me? Keep her for a couple of weeks.”

“No. This is something I have to do.”

Bess went home and Sandy continued to sit at the table. Finally, she made a decision. She got up and walked to Winnie’s room. The room was straightened and everything was in its place. Winnie was on the floor. Pooch lay across her lap. She went to get up.

“Stay where you are,” Sandy said softly, then took a seat on the floor beside Winnie. She ran her fingers through Winnie’s hair. “Look. If you say it was a ghost, it was a ghost. As long as I have no evidence, I am going to think you’re telling the truth. Okay?”

“Yes, Mommy,” Winnie said, leaning her head against her mother.

“Unfortunately you don’t have a sister to blame things on the way I did.” Then she leaned over and kissed her daughter on the head.

haiku for the day: home

There is something comforting about the word “home”. It is more than a house. It could be an apartment. Or a tent, if you are a nomad. If you are a royal, it could be a palace. The earliest smells, the earliest sounds we experience are of that place we call home. So, it’s no wonder that our happiest time of the day is when we arrive home. The dog or the cat wait for their pat. The spouse waits for their kiss. The kids wait for their hugs. No amount of money can replace that moment. 

the smell of bacon
Chet Baker on the trumpet
sunset, then twilight

The Passing of Peaches and Buster

Peaches

Peaches

I would like to begin this post by saying that I am not a cat person. But sometimes you have no choice. An animal comes into your life and you have to take that animal in. This was Peaches some thirteen years ago. She came to us, hungry, almost starving. We fed her and she led us to her litter. Two small kittens.

We took the three of them in. We knew, that if we didn’t, the mother might not make it. We were sure the kittens wouldn’t. From the beginning, we decided that they were to go and come as they pleased. Since we have a large back yard, they would have the run of it. We named the kittens Buster and Princess. Not unique names, but they seemed to fit.

Oh, sure. We knew that outdoor cats might not live as long as an indoor cat. I asked myself, “If I were a cat, which would I want to be?” The answer was that I would much prefer the outdoors. In the meantime, they got the run of the house. When we thought they were ready, we took them to the vet’s and got them all shotted up, and spayed and neutered as well. It was the right thing to do.

When we thought they were ready for the world outside, we gave them the run of the yard. Each day they came in for their feeding. Most times Peaches and Princess stayed inside at night while Buster went outside to do his Buster thing.

Buster the Easter Cat

Buster

Some nights he stayed inside until three o’clock in the morning. Then he would get me up, wanting to go out. Half asleep, I followed him into the kitchen and to the back door. We always kept their food dishes in our kitchen. He went to the kitchen door, then he slightly turned his head and thought, “Oh, I need a snack.” Then he went for his food dish. I complained, “Buster, couldn’t you get your snack before you woke me up?” As he chowed down, I imagined that he said,”Oh, I could. But I have something to prove here. I am cat. Here me roar.”

Princess0313

Princess

It became a ritual that the cats met me on the front porch when I arrived home from work. Peaches rolled on the grass, showing off. I petted her for just a few minutes. Buster demanded to go inside for his food. Then I opened the door to let them in. Buster went in first, then he turned and waited on his sister. Having them meet me at the door, then spending time with them that first little while when I got home, it became a way to release the stress I might have had with work. It became a way to relax.

Buster0313

Buster

In 2014, Buster got to the point where he wouldn’t eat. He lost a lot of weight and was pretty close to leaving us. We took him to three different vets before we finally figured out what the problem was. He was clogged up in his intestines. The vet gave him an enema. We brought him home and put him on a wet diet. For a while, we had to force feed him. Finally he got better and mostly went back to the same old Buster he had always been.

Peaches0313

Peaches

Through the years, Peaches got in the habit of leaving the yard and heading over to the park behind us. We weren’t sure where she went but usually she came back to us early in the evening. Buster stood guard, watching his territory, our yard, like a hawk. He came in and ate, then it was back out, making sure he was the king of the castle.

Last August I came home from work and Buster didn’t show up. Thinking that he wasn’t hungry, I didn’t make much of it. I figured he was hiding in the bushes after feasting on a mole or a rat. A second night he didn’t show. I began to walk the neighborhood and check with neighbors. Nope, they hadn’t seen him. I checked online and called to see if he had been picked up by animal control. Nope. Animal control had not been in our area recently. After two weeks, I had pretty well given up on him. Then Peaches didn’t show up either. I went through the same process. No Peaches.

We’ve come to the conclusion that both were either attacked by a coyote or a hawk got them. A neighbor said they had recently seen a hawk swoop down and pick up a cat. We don’t think Buster or Peaches will be back.

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Princess

In the meantime, Princess has taken Buster’s place. But she seems sad. I think she is mourning for Buster. They were very close.

As I said at the beginning, I am not a cat person. But these cats have taught me a lot about our responsibility to animals and our need to be compassionate to them. I used to believe the myth that cats are independent creatures. They are not. Oh, sure. Unlike dogs, they need  their space. They are not mean, as one dog owner recently told me. It is in their nature to hunt. They wouldn’t be cats if they didn’t. They are perfectly built for hunting. I will tell you that they have the most beautiful eyes. They are so expressive. At least, our cats have.

I want you to know that I miss both Peaches and Buster very very much. So do me a favor. If you have a pet, give them a little extra special attention. If you see an animal in need, do as much as you can to help.

Anyway I miss my cats. And I just had to tell you about them.