The General and His Friend
They were two kittens hanging around our yard. One, a golden tabby we nicknamed “The General” after the cat in the original (and still the best) “True Grit”. John Wayne’s character, Rooster Cogburn, had a cat in the movie named General Sterling Price. Love that name. Anyway, the other cat was a tortoise shell tabby that had an elongated face and giant ears. He reminded me of every cat I’d ever seen in ancient Egyptian wall paintings. We didn’t call him anything, but he was clearly a very clever kitty because he’d hang back as The General snatched some of the food I’d begun to offer from my hand and when it was dropped, the other cat would saunter up and eat it off the ground without ever having to get near the stupid human.
One day, the week before 09/11, I opened the front door and there on my welcome mat were The General and his sidekick. The minute I opened that door The General ran off but the other kitten sat there staring up at me and meowing.
“Well?” I asked, “are you coming in or not?”
He slowly stretched up from a sitting position and sashayed his little ass into our house and hearts.
And there he stayed.
We named him “Bugsy”, and later “Bugsy, the Insane” for his crazy antics. He had pink paw pads, and a pink nose, and the rest was gray and white. He looked like Bugs Bunny.
At his visit for neutering, the vet guessed he was at least part Abyssinian – a revered breed in ancient Egypt – due to his bat-like ears and regal profile. He was crazy smart, able to open drawers and doors. He came when called, argued incessantly when given a command before reluctantly doing whatever I asked, and in general was a royal pain in the ass.
And we loved him awful.
When he turned 10 I started having to give him insulin twice a day. When he turned 13 we added thyroid medication.
When he turned 16, after years of not wanting too much human contact, he became an affectionate and sweet lap kitty.
Last weekend, after being sick a couple of days, he went to sleep and didn’t wake up.
We buried him under a mesquite tree and cried, the hubs and I. We still catch ourselves looking for him in the house, and I’m hearing the echoes of his meow from time to time.
He will be missed, but as my 9-yr. old granddaughter said during her breakfast prayer yesterday, she’s hoping that he’s in heaven with her great-grandmother (who died the same day as Bugsy) and having fun playing together. I choose to join her in that sweet and pure belief.
And, when I die I’ll look for Bugsy, and Smokey, Duchess, and Bandit, and all the rest of the animals I’ve loved along the way.