Arriving at home, I introduced Ginger to the new judge, jury, and executioner of Mouseville. Her reaction was positive but not one of great joy. Within minutes though, she was tossing out names. Finding a big black spot on his white belly, we finally settled on “Meatball.” It’s what our guys in WWII called the round insignias on Japanese aircraft. Ginger held him up; we looked at his belly, looked at each other, and said the name in a question “Meatball?” It fit.
Like a new parent with their first child, Ginger asked “What now”. I went to the hangar, put some sand in a shoebox and brought it to the house. Instead of diapers, we would be changing litter. Fortunately Meatball, looking less than eight weeks old, had a mind that was ahead of his body. Ginger gently sat him in the sand and to my amazement he immediately did was a cat is supposed to do. Inside I thought, “Good job little guy, you just sealed the deal.” Yet in reality, he was ours from the moment he was plucked from the field.
On our way to his first vet visit, Ginger and I both remember him howling like mad. Having never had cats, Ginger’s motherly reaction was to take him out and hold him. As she turned to get him, I insisted that if she did he would immediately find his way under the pedals or worse and that she was in not to let him out. Midstream of my dissertation on why she shouldn’t open that carrier, Meatball walked out and curled up in her arms.
Ginger had never been a cat person but Meatball had made her one. He loved to lay with her to watch TV and always found time to help with her computer work. When she would get too focused he would knock the trash over by her desk, and when she needed to laugh he would dance with her around the house. At night he slept on her shoulder. Every day he brought a smile to her face. He was her baby and now she was saying goodbye. Nose to nose they swayed bringing one last smile to each other’s face. She then offered him to me.
Not wanting to reveal how much I was hurting I suggested she hold him longer, instead she put him on the table near me. She’s a smart that Ginger because I couldn’t leave him there on the table and hesitantly reached to pick him up. That’s when all my memories let loose.
What would I do with a furless overnight bag; one of his favorite beds. Who was going to greet me when I came home? What would I do with the chair where he laid in my lap, sleeping for hours as I typed? And who would weed out the good people from the bad? Watching him rub against those that didn’t like cats was a special treat to me and I’m sure he knew it. All of these questions had answers but one; how could anyone replace that little kitten I found in the farmers field?
Just then the vet walked in to give him a sedative.
Five minutes later, after another shot and one painful minute, he was gone.
God bless the vet who has to see this every day. I don’t know how one does it. Fortunately, with all the sympathetic discomfort he must have felt, just before we walked out the door, this guy thought to bring me Meatball’s collar because he was sure we’d want it. He was right.