It’s cold; the blankets are pulled up under the chin …no need to get up. Retired..what a wonderful word! I note the time is 6 a.m. and a series of yawls echo down the hallway to our bedrooms. Breakfast time! My son makes his way to the kitchen, fills a dish and stumbles back to his bed for at least a cat nap. I pull the blankets tighter around me and ask the Sleep Fairy for at least another half hour. Remarkably, it is given and a series of small little meows beside my bed awaken me the second time. I look down at the golden eyes and groan aloud, “Sam, arrghh…”. He stops, sits, starts grooming as if he has a play date shortly and waits patiently for me to slide out of bed, sit until my senses come to me and I can remember my own name. I go out to notice he has not touched the food given him at the six o’clock hour, but waits until I fix my breakfast and we eat together.
I should sputter and probably do under my breath, but the bright golden eyes are shining as if to say, “hey I’m lonesome, time to get going…” and underneath it all , I am very happy.
You see, my husband,Dick and I went to several shelters that September in 2007 and found nothing we really wanted to replace our cat we had lost months before. At the last shelter, shavings or whatever were being put down and Dick had to leave the building because he had an allergic reaction. I looked and looked and was ready to leave when down in the corner, were two golden eyes looking at me from a little cage.
“Well, what do we have here?” I asked and the lady replied that he had never left his cage since he came in April unless someone took him out. I knelt and they opened the door and out he came, in and out of my legs and brushing up against me. Amazed, the lady held him and said he had adopted me and almost started to cry. By then, it was a done deal. I thought I had myself a bona fide five year old cat. Ah, but that was not to be the story.
The name tag said “Sam” and we left it the same. He slept all the way home, gently stepped out the carrier and made himself at home…but with Dick, not me. Oh, no. I was the cat lover. Dick sat at the computer that night and Sam perched on a chair arm and kept putting his paw out to touch his shoulder until finally Dick took him in his lap. That was his favorite place to be for the next nine years.
If Dick took a break in the rocking chair on the deck, Sam was in his lap or in the chair next to him. If he fell asleep in the recliner, Sam stretched his entire black and white body over the lap til both ends sagged. Where one was, so was the other. If Dick sat on the sofa to watch NCIS, his favorite show, Sam would hear the theme song and come running and with one giant leap, land in his lap for the entire show.
Then the day came when Dick became ill. At first, Sam would tentatively edge over and hop gently in his lap for a short while, until he had to be disturbed. Days and nights passed and the times in Dick’s lap became few and far between. Sam seemed to sense it and gingerly walked around his master. Although he continued to eat, he became withdrawn and his golden eyes seemed to fade.
Months passed and the day came when Dick left the house for the hospital. Sam was unusually quiet and existed, but showed no interest in anything but a little food, water and curled up in a corner. Soon after, we lost Dick and the days to follow were those wrapped up in the usual manner after such a loss. Sam continued to just eat, drink and curl up in a corner, asking for no affection from anyone or acting as if he really wanted any attention. The offering of a new catnip toy from our neighbor didn’t arouse his interest. He seemed to act more indifferent and remote when we moved Dick’s special chair to another part of the room as if he realized that Dick was not coming home.
I have to be super careful when I walk with my RA condition, so use a cane most times and when I nudged him so I wouldn’t trip, he turned around and almost snarled at the cane. This was definitely not the Sam I knew who walked with me in the back yard and played peek a boo around the trees a couple years before…
After some more rearranging this year, the chair was moved back to its former position. One night, my son sat down and Sam approached the chair very slowly. Alan patted his lap and Sam jumped up and laid his body across my son’s legs. After a few minutes, he fell fast asleep. Not long after we found him digging his toys out of his private little box and tossing one in the air..not bad for a 15 year old cat.
Each day, Alan takes a little time to sit in Dick’s chair and Sam walks over and up he jumps. He has started to hide his whole face in Alan’s hand the way he used to do with Dick.
The most beautiful thing I notice is that his golden eyes shine again. It is as though he is saying, “It has been a terrible year. I miss him, but now I know you all love me.” Once in awhile I look over in the evening and he is curled up all by himself in the chair that once belonged to his master , as if to say, it’s ok now. No one can ever convince me that a pet does not grieve when it loses its master.
So do I mind if he gets lonesome in the morning and acts as my alarm clock? Not as long as the golden eyes still shine. —and by the way I don’t hold him because I am allergic to his black fur. Ironic, isn’t it.
Sam is back!!