Archive | June 2012

The Cat is Dead

I have owned and loved both cats and dogs since childhood. But, all things considered, I am more of a cat person than a dog person. Samantha and Copper, Hershey, Fergie, Emma, Sophie and Othello, Blue, Sterling, Forrest and Indy are a few of my beloved cats. But, unfortunately, being a cat owned by me is a fairly good indicator of a shortened lifespan. It’s both horrible and horribly funny.

Samantha was my childhood Dreamsicle-orange long hair cat who was so mellow that I dressed her in baby doll clothes and shoes and laid her in a baby doll stroller to walk around the neighborhood. But, one day she took a trip around the neighbor’s car’s fan belt and found herself on the fast track to death.

Emma was my lovably grumpy, vocal and temperamental silver Persian cat. When one of my roommates was allergic to her, my parents took her in for foster care and pampered her to the max. But, Dad called me one day and without warning or social chit chat said “Your cat is dead.” It was just “Hello?” and “Your cat is dead. She woke up dead.” (And that is sooooo my Dad’s dry humor there…..I think that is where I get the dark sense of humor.)

Blue was a cream and blue calico feral cat who slowly tamed as Joel and I fed her from the back porch. In time she became so docile that we took her to the vet and spayed her, and she could freely come and go from inside our house. But, on Christmas as we returned from the out of town Cook family gathering, we saw a body in the road and I knew it was Blue even from a distance. She died on the Highway to Heaven.

Sterling was a Blue Russian stray who found us and stood at our back porch door and meowed until we fed him. He was a regal gun-metal silver short hair and loved to be doted on. But, one night as I drove home, only months after we vaccinated and fixed him (when it became apparent that he was really our cat) Joel called, quite upset and not fully articulate at first, to say “The cat is dead. I ran over the cat in the garage and the kids were in the car (a Chevy Suburban) when I did it.” Suburban life for Sterling was unkind.

Indy’s mother was a stray cat who turned up at my parents’ house as an unwed mother. Forrest and Indy became our kittens from that litter. Noah named Indy, a grey striped tabby, after his favorite movie character, Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, unlike his namesake, Indy’s ability to escape close calls was poorly developed. Two weeks ago on the day before we left for vacation, Joel called me, again upset and hard to understand, and said “The cat is dead. I found him stuck in the garage door.” He was strangled in the garage door with his head sticking out one side of the door and his body dangling on the other side of the door. No sequels for Indy.

So, we are now left with only Forrest. We hope for our sakes’ and for his, that life will be like a box of chocolates and that he will not meet a terrible fate. And, I would just like to stop receiving phone calls that tell me my cat is dead. Again.

Did You Forget Something?

In honor of Father’s Day, I tell this story on Joel with love and laughter.

When I was in middle school, my mother forgot to pick me up from school. Normally, I rode the bus but on this day I had an orthodontic appointment right after school and the plan was for her to pick me up. But, as the last buses pulled out and no other car riders were left but me, it became apparent she forgot me. I had to use a pay phone to call her and to this day I remember the surprised “Oh!” she said when I called her at home. How could you forget your child? I mean, really!?

Fast forward years later to when Joel and I were the weary and exhausted parents of three children under the age of three. We hadn’t seen a whole night’s sleep in almost three years and a routine, any routine, was key to keeping things on track.

One Sunday morning when Sarah Grace was about ten months old and the boys were thirty months old, I stayed home from church with Sarah Grace because she had some minor, but contagious, illness. And, instead of the boys, who were well, staying home and being underfoot, Joel took them with him to church.

Now normally on Sunday mornings I would be the one to take all three to the nursery and to retrieve them after church and herd the twin toddler boys and carry Sarah Grace to the car in the parking lot where Joel would meet us after service. But, on this morning Joel was on his own.

About 12:15, the nursery volunteer called our home and asked if I knew where Joel was. Confused, I responded he’s at church. She said, no, he isn’t here. I said, well, how can that be? She said “We have the boys in the nursery and he is not here. His car isn’t in the parking lot either.” Not to worry. I assured her I would call him on his cell phone and he must be there somewhere.

I called his cell phone. No answer. I called it again. No answer. And again. And again. My messages on his voicemail were lost their sweetness with each successive message. I will not repeat my thoughts nor messages here as I would have to edit them because they would certainly be unbecoming for a pastor’s wife to commit to print.

At 12:30 the nursery volunteer called again. Embarrassed, I had to say that I didn’t know where he was and he wasn’t answering his cell phone. Same process of calls and no answer. At 12:45 the nursery volunteer called again and I said just hang on, I am on my way to the church. We lived only five miles or so from the church.

But, I had to hurriedly dress myself and Sarah Grace because we still had on our jammies for the sick day. It was now 1 p.m. I raised the garage door and with Sarah Grace on my hip and car keys in hand, Joel just at that exact moment rolled into the driveway. My jaw was set and my eyes and eyebrows were communicating oh boy you are in trouble. Joel, though, disregarded the warning signs. He rolled down his window and with head cocked to the side said “WHAT?” in a challenging and slightly mocking sarcastic tone. (What? Oh, I will tell you WHAT and give you WHAT FOR.)

But, I coolly said only “Where are the boys?” as I arched only one eyebrow to its maximum height.

“OH!” And, in one simultaneous breath and motion, he threw the Suburban in reverse and roared out of the driveway without any further conversation. Yes, THAT’S WHAT big guy.

And, now the boys love to hear the story of the day Daddy left them at church.

Kung Fu Fighting

My sister, Cyndi, is two and half years younger. We are very close now, including that she vacations with us almost every year.

Growing up we were not close, not even remotely so. We were polar opposites in so many ways. She was athletic and I was athletically impaired. She was (and is) outrageously funny and I was minimally amusing on a good day. I loved school while she endured it. She was tall and I was height challenged. One of the few things we agreed on was how much we did not care for each other at that point in our lives.

To our parents’ dismay –especially our Mother who was an only child —we fought a lot. We engaged in the typical sneaky behind the parents’ warfare…Mom, she (insert whine and assorted assignations here)…No, I did not!…and we also engaged in hand to hand combat at times. My sister had height and physical ability on her side but I had a sharp tongue to land blows with and a well-timed sense of when to run.

One day when we were in our pre-teen / early teens, we found ourselves home alone. Neither one of us has any memory of what started our fighting, but we began laying hands on each other. We slapped at each other with extended arms and warily circled each other in the center of the family room rug.

Our family room and kitchen were an open plan and an L-shaped sectional divided the t.v. and fireplace hearth from the breakfast table and kitchen. We bobbed and weaved in circles landing glancing blows on each other. And, then, suddenly Cyndi was airborne as she flew over my head and completely over the sofa. She landed on her back with a resounding THUD on the hardwood floor between the sofa and the breakfast table rug. I had grabbed her arm and in some unplanned, unexplained, and uncoordinated karate move flipped her. It was the Sweet girls’ version of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon right there in suburbia.

I leapt onto the sofa and fearfully peered over the back to see Cyndi on the floor flat on her back. Had I just killed my sister? The landing had knocked the breath out of her and she was speechless and breathless. OH NO! ARE YOU OKAY? She struggled to nod yes. As the color returned to her face and she could finally inhale, we discovered another thing we agreed on. Our conflict dissolved into conspiracy as we agreed that never ever, under any circumstances, could Mom and Dad find out about this episode.