She was tiny and unobtrusive, a dainty, quiet cat. She first appeared as a minute skin and bones, tail-less kitten, huddled in the road, too weak to budge. My son, Josh, rescued her, telling me excitedly that he’d found a manx. Not exactly- more like a fan belt cat. For three weeks, the starved, pitiful bundle of dull fur spent most of her waking hours on my shoulder. My husband, not exactly a cat lover, suggested rather forcefully that we rehabilitate and re-home her. Naturally I hated that idea, but I had some time to figure it out, and so I kept at it.
Little by little, Boss put on weight, and even left my shoulder from time to time. She refused to use the litter box, and had to be taken outside to potty. One Monday morning, something spooked her, and she streaked off into the woods. We looked and called, but any cat savvy person knows how effective that was. After a few days, we quit looking, but I admit to praying that she would come back. Jon said, with some satisfaction, that she’d found a new home, probably muttering aside, “Or the coyotes got her”.
Later in the week, Jon did a remarkable thing; he suggested we take a walk. Now, although I loved a good ramble, I knew it wasn’t his favorite activity. Besides, it was a hot, humid, Mississippi afternoon- oppressive, in fact. Not sure what had gotten into him, but happy to oblige, I put on my walking shoes. We strolled up our ridiculously long gravel driveway, out onto the dusty residential lane toward the pond. Nothing ever seemed to happen around the pond, unless you counted the time five cows escaped and stopped there for refreshment. And so, today, we expected to see a snapping turtle or a snake- or if we were lucky- a red-headed woodpecker. We weren’t especially quiet, so it was surprising we even heard the faint mew.
Jon stopped and turned in the direction of the sound. His face said two things: “Impossible!” and “Oh no!”. I began to croon “kitty, kitty, kitty”, and a tiny figure bounced out of the brush and headed straight for my incredulous spouse. She played him for all she was worth, ignoring the one who had practically worn her for weeks, the one who had fed her every few hours when she arrived. She made a beeline for DOG MAN and wouldn’t leave. She rubbed against his legs. She mewed pitifully. She gazed up at him with baby kitty eyes. And it worked. He sighed, picked her up, and took her home. I could almost hear God laughing.
Jon let her stay even though she never repeated the adoration dance for him, and things returned to normal with Boss spending most of her quiet time in my lap. When we migrated to Ohio, Boss went with us. She enjoyed roaming around the barn and garden, and she always slept at the corner of my bed. Close- but not too close- never pushy or demanding.
A few months ago, Boss died of throat cancer. It seemed ridiculous and unnecessary, and I was angry. What possible difference could it make to let her live? I am still puzzled by the timing and the manner of her death- almost exactly a year after Jon’s departure. But a delightful fantasy plays in my mind:
Jon is summoned to the throne room, and approaches Jesus, who stands with His hands behind His back.
“Jon”, He says, “Debby sent you something….”
And all heaven laughs as Boss does the adoration dance.