What Will Answer When You Call My Name

Photo by Terrye Turpin

My son, Andy, told me about the stray cat when I stopped over at his house for a visit. The cat, a scrawny orange and white tabby, wandered over to him at the park near his home.

“I shared my snack with it,” he said.

The cat, hungry enough to eat a granola bar, held still and purred while he petted her. She either had a taste for sweetened oats or she hadn’t eaten real cat food in a while. He told me he would have taken her home if he could have figured out a way to get her into his car.

We always had pets. A hamster, cats, dogs, a gecko, fish — every branch of the animal kingdom was represented. The last of them, our cat Miss Tiggy and the dog Greta, died not too long before my marriage came to its own timely end. When I moved out Andy came with me to share an apartment. Now he lived in a house with his fiancé. I stayed in the apartment, alone for the first time in twenty-five years.

When Andy mentioned going back to the park to look for the cat, the appropriate response at this point from me would have been “What about your allergies?” or “Are you sure you’re ready to own a pet?”

But Andy had a house in need of a pet, and there was a cat in need of a home.

“I wonder if she’s still there?” I asked as I gathered up my car keys.

We piled into my Honda SUV and drove the four blocks to Finch Park. The pecan and oak trees in the park loomed tall and shady over the playground when I played there as a child, and years later they stood over my own boys. The donated land was a gift from Fannie and Henry A. Finch and the park carries their name. Fannie was one of the first women in Texas to be elected to a school board, not an easy feat in 1917. In fact, since women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920, she wouldn’t have been able to cast a ballet for herself.

We found the kitty hiding out in the bushes that ringed one side of the grounds. She strolled out to greet us as we stepped out of the car, waving her tail like a flag signaling surrender. We hadn’t given much thought to the logistics of moving the cat from the park, into my car, and down the street to Andy’s house. We surveyed the supplies on hand.

“I have a recyclable grocery sack, a zippered cooler, and a laundry basket.” I said.

The cat did not particularly like being stuffed in the back of an SUV and having a laundry basket turned over on top of her. We made the drive back to the house listening to the cat wailing harmony to Lucinda Williams on the CD player.

I stopped in the driveway and Andy hopped out to open the front door. Once the way inside was clear we cautiously lifted the hatch on my SUV. The term “catapult” does not adequately describe the velocity that an angry cat can achieve when she launches herself from the driver’s seat of a car and out the back, past the astonished humans who stood in her way.

We lured her within grabbing distance with a can of tuna and I scooped her up to carry her into the house. At this point the cat noticed that we were approaching an open door into who knows what, and she decided to attach herself to me like a large, furry cockle burr. I don’t know who was howling louder, me or the cat, but we made it safely inside.

I searched the bathroom medicine cabinet for first aid supplies while Andy treated the cat to the rest of the tuna.

“What will you name the cat?” I called as I poured antiseptic down my arm.

“How about Killer?” Andy replied.

I was in favor of Lucy, short for Lucifer. I contemplated the angry red scratches on my arm and considered the possibility that I might perish from some cat borne illness.

Andy replied, “Don’t worry Mom, if you die we’ll name the cat after you.”

I thought about Miss Fannie Finch and the park named for her, and decided that if worse came to worse I could accept a scrawny cat as a namesake. After all, it’s nice to be remembered.

© 2018 Terrye Turpin

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