Thoughts about an old friend…

I took CHARLIE to the Vet clinic for a booster shot and general follow up checkup Friday. Doctor King gave his shoulder a thorough examination, and she gave me the go-ahead to give CHARLIE free run of the house. Her only stipulation was that he be kept from jumping on (and off…) of elevated surfaces such as the kitchen table and counters that might re-injure his shoulder. So it’s been so funny to hear CHARLIE running “Boogity boogity boogity” throughout the house– and to hear him stealthily exploring every corner he can get into, sniffing and snuffing around everything as he expands his knowledge of the confines of his new home.

It’s a sheer joy for me to have CHARLIE around. He’s such a sweet little guy– and so much fun. He’s full of that kitten energy that has him in perpetual motion when he’s awake– and he’s absolutely adorable when he finally burns through that energy and crashes for a long nap. He can really fall asleep in some hilarious positions. Having him here has sort of jump-started my memories of CHARLIE’S predecessor BUTCH, though. But– not thoughts about her last year or so when she was so sick, old and in constant pain from her arthritis. No, I’ve been remembering things about her from when she first came to live with me. Things from those early days after she walked into my house one fine afternoon and said to me with her eyes “I’m going to be living my retirement years here with you, just so you know….!”

BUTCH immediately started sleeping on my bed. She took to the upstairs area of my house from the start. It was her favorite area, and the place she spent most of her time. I bought her one of those cat beds to sleep in, but she wanted to sleep in the bed with me, and who was I to argue…? She quickly developed a funny bed-time ritual that happened every night without fail. I would start each night before falling asleep with some reading– maybe a comic book, maybe a novel. But I really didn’t get all that much reading done, because after only a few minutes of laying in the bed, I could feel BUTCH walking up my leg on her way to my chest. She would force her head under whatever I happened to be looking at, and nudge it aside and settle in right in front of my face– staring right into my eyes with her big, soulful peepers. This made me more than a little nervous when she first did it, because I didn’t know her personality fully, and I was afraid she was setting me up for a good slashing with her claws or something. But she would just lay there and look into my eyes. I could stare back at her for as long as I liked– she never averted her gaze. I think she was bonding with me in her own way. She was perhaps letting me know that we were stuck with each other. Whatever her reasons for doing this, I soon got over my nervousness and started to look forward to it, actually. It was very sweet. And she would lay there like this until I started moving to turn off the light to go to sleep. Then she would pad past my head, over my shoulder and onto the pillows I lay my head on. She would curl up around my head and bump hers into mine– purring like crazy the whole time– over and over until I stopped chuckling about what she was doing (it seemed so odd, but so very funny) and fell asleep. I never did feel her getting off the pillow. Her purring always put me to sleep so deeply I never noticed.

Eventually, BUTCH added beard grooming to this ritual. I wore a short cropped beard for years, and after a nice long period of gazing into each others eyes, she would scoot her way forward and begin to lick my chin whiskers. She was almost obsessive about his once she started. It would go on for so long, that her sandpaper-like tongue would begin to hurt my chin….! I think she would happily have licked until my chin was bald if I had let her. But once it began to hurt, I would gently move her away from my face, and she’d settle back onto my chest until I was ready to go to sleep. This was our ritual for a long time– until her arthritis got to the point that it was too painful for her to lay on my chest anymore. I missed our little “sessions” from the moment they ended.

I still miss them.


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