I have a history of bringing strays home. Not just men, but also animals too.
When I was about 19 and away at college, my suitemates and I thought it would be a good idea to get a kitten. This was after the rabbit debacle the previous spring ('Cadbury', bought around Easter and existing in my dorm room beneath crudely fashioned cage of a milk crate, shitting little nuggets everywhere and thumping his goddamned feet 24 hours a day, ended up the size of a large cat and 'escaping' from a hutch in my parents backyard that summer, before being transported by my Grammy Alice to a 'farm' upstate).
So we went to the pet store and picked out the frailest, most needy-looking kitten in the place. She had a drippy eye and sneezed nonstop. Of course this is the animal for me, I thought. Of course it is.
To make it up to our Jamaican suitemate, whom we did not consult on this purchase and who hated the us, we let her name the kitten. She called her "Nesta", after Bob Marley.
Well. Nesta did fine in our little suite until we had a fire drill. My friend Keri stuffed kitty in her parka and we ran outside, gathering near the building until we were told we could go back. Our RA came over to talk to us, and, oops, little Nesta popped her head out of Keri's coat to say Hi.
That was the end of the cat in the dorm, see.
So, Grammy Alice saved my ass again. She took the kitten and kept her as her own. She renamed her Cleo (for Cleopatra, as she was a gorgeous gold and black), and played with her ("She loves it when you put her in a paper shopping bag and swing it around! She just goes crazy!"), and loved that cat right up until the she died. Alice, that is. She lay in a hospice bed in front of her big window, slipping away from us, and we held her hand and told her it was okay to let go. And Cleo curled up in a ball at the foot of the bed, seemingly bereft. Devastated. Alice died last month at the age of 94. Cleo was 17.
Actually, I should say Cleo is 17. That cat is as old as fuck and still kicking.
And now she's living with me. I had promised Grammy Alice months ago, when my aunt and mother were dangling the assisted living carrot in front of her, that I would take Cleo and care for her when she moved out of her apartment. And I kept my promise, even though my lovely grandmother slipped away before she got to the assisted living 'sunset' of her life. Probably best.
So, Cleo came to me a few weeks ago, skinny, disoriented, pissed off and traumatized. She hid behind Lily's bed for about a week, coming out only to eat and poop and hiss at Sea Monkey, who was absolutely entranced by her.
We seem to have settled into a routine and the two cats are tolerating each other, though occasionally I'll be jolted awake by hissing and shrieking as they startle each other on the way to the litterbox or in the wee hours of the night. And this morning Lily came in wiping her foot, saying, "I think I just stepped in Cleo barf!"
But it's par for the course, I suppose.
And I'm glad to have the chance to do this for my grandmother. It's what she would have wanted.
And really, it's only fair.
6 days ago