"Pets are never disappointing,
Unless they puke on your stuff"
Smokey never puked on my stuff. When he and his brothers Slate and Peaty were kittens, they did make a mess of the basement, but that was a long time ago. They were so small, we were afraid some sort of large bird or fox would carry them off if we let them live outside without someone hanging out with them. So we did. James and I would sit in the grass outside for hours with kittens in our laps. Can you imagine anything better than a lap full of kittens?
My parents found Smokey on the side porch yesterday morning. Dad said he looked like he was sunbathing. I know it must have happened quickly because only an hour earlier I had left for work out of the door on the side porch and he was nowhere to be seen. He must have known how awful it would have been for me if I had been the one to find him, so he waited till I had left the house. Dad came to work to tell me what happened and brought me an orange. I sat in the bathroom and cried for an hour, then when the first customers showed up I put on a happy face and worked all day till midnight.
13 years ago Dad got a boat. I believe he actually got paid with a boat by someone whose house he had been working on. I don't remember what exactly our reasoning was at the time, but we figured that if Dad got a boat, James and I should get a pet. We went to a house in Lovettsville; I think the home of one of my Mom's preschool students whose cat had just had a gigantic litter of kittens.
James had it easy as far as picking. He said he wanted an orange kitten because our old cat Barney had been orange. The kittens were all orange, gray and white, so he was in luck. Mom attached herself to a completely slate gray one and ended up going back later that day to pick him up. We had only intended on getting a cat for James and I, but she just fell in love with him and could not leave him there.
I was not partial to fur color. I scooped up as many kittens as my little 10 year old arms could gather and put them in my lap to see who I liked the most. They were all so small and adorable; it should have been the hardest choice ever. They whined and scrambled around my lap, most of them deciding they had better places to go. I did not stop them. But one kitten stayed. My cat sat with me longest.
Smokey was the biggest of the kittens I had scooped up. He was mostly gray with a white face, stomach and little white boots. He did not whine or even move, he stayed sitting on my lap purring while all his brothers and sisters went to explore the rest of the yard. What should have been the hardest choice of my young life had just become the easiest.
He was mine. Our last cat was the family's cat, no one's in particular. But Smokey was my cat. He was the pet I've had the longest, who had been there elementary school through college. When I came back from college on breaks, he was always there purring and happy to see me as if no time had passed. All three cats were always there. Pets never hold grudges. They will always love you no matter what. That is why I'll miss Smokey more than I can put into words here.
I'll miss how in the summer all I had to do was go outside for a second before I was surrounded by cats, Smokey in the lead. I'll miss his annoyingly persistent meow as he scratched at the front door every day just so we would come out and pet him. I'll miss how he used to try and jump onto the hammock any time I was laying on it reading, but would always get stuck in the ropes and need my help to get out. I'll just miss him.