Fifteen years, seven months and a few days, three days before Christmas, in fact, I was shopping at the Albertsons at the corner of Broadway and Centerville in Garland, Texas when a tiny fur ball screamed “NO!” at me.
Some villain had tossed a baby kitty out in a busy parking lot during the Christmas rush and I hope they got nothing but coal in their socks ever after cause that was as inhumane an act as I have ever encountered.
Yes, I picked up the tiny loudmouth and tucked her in my coat and took her home.
Now that wasn’t the wisest choice, the Long Sufferin’ had her parents on the way and they were nice, conventional people, not given to disorder, loud music and pets. They probably should have been more confortable at a motel, but they stayed with us and the Long Sufferin was most annoyed at having to explain, not necessarily in order, me, the house and a new cat.
The solution was to hide the kitten in my office, with a shoe box of cat litter, a bowl of water and a warm towel stuffed in the desk chair.
The kitty was a real trooper and didn’t make a sound and the in-laws had a nice visit, a happy Christmas and a safe journey back to their well-ordered, peaceful and neat house.
It was one of the most successful clandestine operations since the end of the Second World War.
There was only one lingering problem, the kitty’s isolation scared her little psyche and she never did warm up to social interaction.
Until we stuffed her into an RV, traveled 1800 miles across the burning plains, up perilous mountains and through the lush valleys to the Oregon coast, where upon arriving in our new and much smaller home, she decided that scalability was the order of the day and she crawled into our bed, curled up on the pillow by my head and purred us to sleep, and she did this every night until last week when at a most senior age she left us behind and joined the ranks of our previous pets waiting for us to catch up and come along with them to a better world.
That little cat who never wanted anything, but to be loved was brutally discarded by some lout and through extreme good fortune found me and I will be ever grateful for the meeting, cause I got a lot more out of it than she ever did.
I think it was Kipling who said that God in his wisdom made their lives so short so that we could know so many of them while they only had to suffer with one of us.
And now there is an empty place on the special pillow that we kept on the bed and I’m not at all sure we will leave it there unless one of the others decides to be a bed kitty. Maybe it will just take time for us to finish our grieving and allow another cat to take her pillow if not her place.
But for us the good part is we did have her for so long and I took a bunch of pictures of our Kristy Kringle so that now we will always remember her fit and fat instead of the tired, thin, scrawny cat she became in the last days.
And that is why I urge you, if you haven’t done so, do it now, create art from your fur friends. They will put up with your endless demands to hold still, wait patiently while you adjust the lighting, nap in cute or amazingly dangerous and acrobatic poses, beg, dance and otherwise entertain you while you ruthlessly exploit their generosity. And then they’ll do it all over again tomorrow.
Pets are the best and first choice of ready models for any artist. You can paint them once, twice and again and again and they will never ask why or complain or fail to give you a new look or inspiration. That’s just the way they are.
And no matter what the juries or the critics or the public say about your art, when you are at your lowest and feeling like tossing all of your art materials into the bay they will come and sit and silently console you and offer a warm lick or a soft purr to lift your spirits.
And they do it all for free.
Now how can you beat that? So get out your sketch pad and your easel and get cracking. They will wait for you to get ready and you don’t have to worry about the weather or a location or the rights to the shot or whether the owner of the property will let on you on the land, they will always say yes.
And when the day comes that they leave you behind, you will thank God you had the chance to capture their likeness in your art so that they will always be with you…with you until you rejoin them in whatever afterlife welcomes soft purrs and wet noses.