My little daughter Lisa and I always enjoyed strolling by the tidy homes and the babbling brook that lazily meandered through our idyllic neighborhood. We especially looked forward to strolling by the Heller residence. Not so much for the Heller’s, but for their 3 kitties who were always out front, lolling in and around the shrubs, suggesting a microcosm of their much bigger feline cousins who patrolled the fearsome African Savannas. Lisa would ask me why the kitties were always sleeping. I told her they needed their sleep. That if they didn’t get in their 22 hours they’d be exhausted the next day. She said she wished she was a kitty so she could sleep and dream all day too.
As we approached the Heller’s house we would coo our unique telltale catcall which caused the kitties to spring to attention and pitter patter down the driveway to greet us with great kitty enthusiasm. Of course being cats, just before they got within petting distance, they’d peel off and act disinterested until the notion of having their ears rubbed became irresistible. Then they’d swarm around us like a colony of bees, because they knew our visit meant one thing – 5 minutes of uninterrupted kitty shmushing. Ears were rubbed, scruffs were tugged and bellies were shamelessly exposed (usually the cats’). It was a beautiful display of human-feline affection. The only downside was that occasionally their fur would stick to our tongues.
These pussfests went on for a few years until one fateful day in September when a simple sign appeared in front of the Heller’s house: “Coming Soon – Prudential Realty.” The For Sale sign went up and by October the kitties were no more. Gone with their owners (although I’m sure the kitties felt more owners than owned) to a new house where they likely lolled around just as provocatively on the front lawn daring, in their own wily way, a new neighborhood of feline appreciators to shmush them with the same enthusiasm Lisa and I did.
Soon after the For Sale sign appeared, my sweet little Lisa asked me what it all meant. When I explained to her the house was being sold and the Hellers were moving, her brow furrowed and then silent tears began to drip down her cheeks as she haltingly said to me in a tremulous voice; “Daddy, does this mean the kitties are going away?”
It was a life lesson I just couldn’t avoid, “Yes Lisa dear,” I said. “In life people move on, and so do kitties. They’re going with their owners to a new house where I’m sure they’ll be just as happy.”
“Hmmm,” she harrumphed, her lower lip proudly jutting out like Shirley Temple’s. “Well then, we’ll just have to find new kitties that want to be shmushed. Kitties that stay in one place forever. I’ll miss them, but we will find other kitties. And when we do – oh boy!”