Friday, September 19, 2008

I remember you - the middle years

Note: If you are not a cat person, you may want to just skip over this post.

Related posts: I remember you - the early years

I remember packing you up and moving home. Your first experience in such a large environment. How you weren't sure what stairs were about, and you had to learn to climb them. You picked up on going down the stairs faster than going up.

I remember you and your best friend, the dominant cat, napping in wicker baskets that sat on top of the basement fridge where it was nice and warm. Yours was a little round basket with a handle, and it was lined with a golden sheer curtain instead of a pillow. And you loved to sleep in it. I remember having to fetch your soft rabbit fur mouse out from under that fridge on more than one occasion, because it always ended up there and you always missed your makeshift teddy bear.

I remember taking pictures of you at Christmastime, sitting on the fireplace hearth next to the bright red pointsettia flowers, and how beautiful you looked there. Your pink velour collar that perfectly matched your pretty pink nose. And the little white bell that jingled softly when you moved.

I remember how you loved to cuddle on top of me, under a blanket, whenever I would sit in the big grey recliner chair in front of the TV. How you would fall asleep, and people wouldn't notice that you were under there, and how your soft grey fur blended into the fabric of the chair. How you would meow in that raspy, annoyed little voice of yours whenever you were disturbed. You loved warmth, and would always gravitate to the warmest spot of the house. If I wasn't there to cuddle with, you could usually be found sleeping in a sunbeam or lying on top of a heat register.

I remember how scared you were of my sister's dog. How you would hide in the basement when the dog would be over. And I remember coming home of an evening and finding the dog locked in her kennel, and you sitting on top of the kennel, taunting her through the bars. You were never so brave as when there were no actual threats to your safety.

I remember how much you hated to have your nails trimmed, and how scared you were of strangers and loud noises, like the vacuum cleaner. I remember that day when I was at work and my parents got their carpets cleaned, and how you scratched my dad's arm when he tried to lock you in the laundry room so you wouldn't get out. And then, once he let you out and you were all stressed out from the noise and strangers who had just left, he tried to trim your nails, and you bit him. I remember coming home from work to find my dad's hand and arm all bandaged up, the stitches in his hand, and the antibiotic IV that was running. Dad never let you forget it, but I always stood up for you and told him he brought it on himself. And I stand by it, even now.

I remember moving you again, to another apartment building. And I remember you shyly peering around the corner of the hallway whenever someone new came in, and then hiding away until you felt comfortable with the new person. How you would sit in the window, shielded by the curtains, and meow in obvious annoyance whenever the curtains would be pulled back. And I remember H doing that so often that you decided to stop meowing at him, just so that he would stop.

I remember you and your buddy cat sleeping curled up together in a big foam kitty bed. How close the two of you were. How much you had grown to love one another. And how I had to keep you separate for feedings, much to your chagrin. I remember both of you piling into the bed with me, him curled up by my knees and you tangled up in my hair right behind my head. How you would just sort of adjust yourself to any new position I decided to take through the night, without missing a beat. How you barely even moved in your adjustments, insisting that I move around you so as not to disturb your sleep.

I remember the few occasions when you would play. You, hiding in the box fort you had found in my bedroom, batting at your buddy's tail as he walked by. I remember how he turned and stared you down, and you tried gamely to pretend that you hadn't done anything; that you had just been sitting there calmly cleaning your paw the whole time.

I remember how you slept in the grey chair in the living room during the day and waited for me to come home. I remember how you would knead my upper arm when you wanted to sleep curled up in my armpit, eventually forcing me to move my arm from the pain. And how quickly you would then dart into position, cuddled up against me, for naptime. The first time you did that kneading motion to H, and how frustrated you got that he didn't move his arm quickly enough.

I remember when we lost your buddy. How confused you seemed when I returned from the emergency vet without him. How lonely you appeared for those next few days, until we got you a new friend. And I remember how vehemently you hated that new friend. How you resented his presence in your apartment. How possessive you became. How he was not permitted near your stuff. How you decided that your stuff consisted of two things: the grey chair, and me. I remember how you would chase him away whenever he came near either of those things. And how you grew to love him, despite yourself. I remember the first time I ever heard you purr; you were taught this trick by the new kitty in the house. You'd never known how to do it before.

I remember you going to the vet to get your ear tattoo and coming home all groggy from the anaesthetic. Your new friend, so protective of you. I remember how wobbly you were as you walked around, and the other kitty hopping around after you on three paws, using one front foot to try and steady you. And I remember how he lost his balance and pushed you over.

I remember how you became the courageous one. How we moved to a new apartment. How we weren't sure where you'd disappeared to and how we eventually found you hiding behind your litter box, the larger, newer cat hiding behind you, looking to you for protection. How you ventured out before him, and explored your new digs.

I remember when H came to stay, and you sat in the living room and cried mournfully through the night, sad that he had taken your place. And I remember having to go out to the living room and get you, and how you then realized that you could lie between us in the bed, and that was still okay with you. And though you never curled up in my hair again, I remember how you still slept close-by every chance you got.

I remember how you hated to have your feet touched. How it was the only thing that would get you to snap, and how you would move to bite anyone who came near them. Your feet were so cute, though, and visitors would invariably try to touch them. I remember you snapping at H's brother, and scaring H's nephew when you yawned and made a horribly scary face that showed all your teeth.

I remember the little things. You, perching atop the TV, looking for warmth. Or batting the newspaper out of my hand, demanding petting. You with a plate of cottage cheese. Stealing potato chips out of my hand as they would near my mouth. Taking french fries and holding them between your paws, eating them like little cobs of corn as you sat perched on your hind feet.

I remember all the cuddles. Your purrs, your meows, your kisses, your soft thick fur.

I remember. I remember all of it.

I remember you. Always.

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