Inside Buddy Foster's World
Today’s guest post is written by Mommy. It is in memory of two cats who were in the family long before I came along, Socks and Sassy.
Under a gnarly crab apple tree, in an unused portion of our back garden, we buried Socks and Sassy. Wrapped in their familiar blankets, with a favourite toy for company, they were interred within two feet of each other. How ironic that two creatures who spent their lives avoiding each other should be doomed to spend eternity together. Or maybe it’s not so ironic. In our minds they were forever one entity: Socks and Sassy, those bloody cats.
Sassy was my daughter’s cat. A slender tortoiseshell, she had the black, brown and orange brindled fur typical of her breed. A patch of white under her chin only highlighted the beautiful blend of colours she possessed. We rescued Sassy from the incinerator at our local dump when she was just a kitten. Although she lived for fourteen years, her feral nature never completely left her. She was wary of newcomers and ever ready to turn on a family member if the feeling struck her.
In our home, Sassy was a queen. We were her servants, all too eager to administer to her every need. She did as she wanted, taking our homage as her due, willing to be worshiped as her royal status demanded, but dismissing us with a snarl and a wag of the tail when she had had enough.
Socks was my son’s cat, the consolation prize when a dog was not allowed. If Sassy were the queen, Socks was the court jester. Our photo albums abound with photos of Socks supposedly drinking from a straw or wearing funny clothes. She fell on her head at least three times, once probably giving herself a concussion. She had never heard the old adage that cats always land on their feet.
Socks expected nothing from us but food. She was willing to give all her affection for a can of fancy cat food and an occasional treat. She spent hours lying on my bed, enfolded in my arms, as I struggled with clinical depression. She would eventually want to get up, but how I valued the few minutes every day when she was my link to another living being, as I tried to block out the world. Socks was always pleasant, and even if you did something she didn’t like, she would just growl a warning, so you would stop and she would not be forced to harm you.
They were both so special and so well-loved, but they did not share that love with each other. Sassy was two years old when Socks arrived, a little kitten used to being fawned over. Sassy never accepted this interloper, toleration being the most she achieved after twelve years. Socks spent the first year trying to befriend her fellow feline but the only reaction from Sassy was a bat of the paw and a chase that covered three levels of our house. Socks always started these incident by playing with Sassy’s tail but she was the one whose fur was left strewn over the floor. When Socks died at age twelve she had not given up hope that one day she and Sassy would be friends.
We had those two cats during most of our son’s and daughter’s childhood. They were taken to pet shows at our annual town festival, became the subject of primary school drawings and elementary school writing, and were known by name by every classmate and teacher and family friend. They were part of us.
When we got our first computer, Sassy and Socks had their own web page. I did acrylic paintings of them both. When a colleague retired, I did a slideshow featuring my two cats, highlighting her plans for her retirement. (Socks and Sassy were a sore point with her because they used her flower beds as a litter pan, so this was their peace offering.)
Socks and Sassy were the bane of my husband’s existence. He complained about the hair they shed, their continuous goings in and out, their 6:00 am meows to be let inside after a nocturnal outing. My husband had complained for years that we could do nothing or go nowhere when we retired because the cats would hold us back. So I wrote a song which we sung at his retirement party – Those Bloody, Bloody Cats. It told of all the things he could have done when he retired, but, now, could not because of Socks and Sassy.
When Sassy was thirteen years of age, she started to develop dementia. This well-groomed, superior cat who ruled the roost became docile, refrained from scratching anyone, and stopped grooming her once immaculate fur. After a year, she was no longer herself and I knew that this formerly dignified cat would not want to live like this. We had her euthanized. A week later, Socks, a healthy cat up to this time, became so ill we were forced to have her euthanized, too. Within a week we were alone.
My husband and I grieved. The man who wanted the world to believe he had no time for those bloody cats was as distraught as I was. Our children were now on their own so the house was empty. That was nine years ago and it is only with time that I have been able to think of them and not feel my heart breaking. No one can tell me that they were “only” animals. There is still a place in my heart where only they reside.
When I think of them now, I think of Sassy who meowed and meowed until she was taken upon someone’s shoulder and walked around the house. (Many times it was my husband who did this when everyone else was in bed.) I think of Socks lying on my bed and letting me rub her belly and purring.
They were as different as two people can be different. I always said if we had a fire, Sassy would alert everyone and get them out of the house, and Socks would hide under a dresser and cry. But Sassy would rescue Socks, too. After all, she always left a part of her evening meal for Socks. My husband said she just wasn’t hungry but I always believed she knew that Socks was extra hungry. Maybe she didn’t dislike Socks so much, but just realized that they were of different temperaments.
It always surprised us how Socks went so quickly after Sassy. The vet said it was cancer but I wonder if it was grief. They always were a twosome and they still are in our hearts. They are one entity: Socks and Sassy, those bloody cats.
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