by Gilda G. Brown
The 1979 Cat Story
As I slid the patio door shut and turned, I said "darn" under my breath before raising the decibel level somewhat. (Ok, I'm going to be honest here! I just might have said another word that started with the letter D.) Sitting upon and across the top of our backyard fence were kittens of various colors with spiked wet hair. They were all shaking as if they were at a "great balls of fire" concert. Old Mama Cat sat among the lot doing her best to hang on to the fence and pretend she wasn't going to die at any moment.
At this point maybe I need to put this story in reverse and give a little background information. You see, our house was known as the place to park a cat or two. I guess you could say there was an invisible sign out front that said "Cat Refuge Center," or even better, "Sucker Center." There had been a few cats bestowed upon us at that location. Mama Cat was just such a donation and one I was rather fond of, though her name fit her well. That love was returned to some extent in spite of a wild streak that ran through that fertile old calico cat.
Fast forward once more and I'm walking toward the fence. I see that a yellow kitten's eyes are rolled back in its head while its sibling is looking through slits. My suspicion is soon confirmed that they were the victims of dog dip. Big Joe had dipped them all in a dog flea dip despite the package warning to the contrary.
Knowing that time meant everything to the cats' survival, I ran a tub of water and donned a thick jacket and heavy gloves. The little ones got a wash first. Not so bad, I thought, but I also thought yeah, right, but you saved the worst for last, didn't you, old gal? I grimaced and picked up Mama, briefly patted her, walked into the bathroom and closed the door.
I have NOT bathed a cat since!
On a hot Gulf Coast morning in 1976, I turned from my housework to check on my daughter as she played with a neighborhood friend. In a world of make believe, they chattered away, oblivious to their surroundings. Thinking of my own childhood, I remembered one summer night in the fifties when I sat on the doorstep near a Mimosa tree, eating a BLT sandwhich while searching a star studded night. Lightning bugs blinked in the air around me, and there was a sort of summer magic all about. Having just come from the community pool, with my hair still wet and feet bare, I munched my sandwich with quiet relish. It was a memory that had played again and again through my mind. Its warm simplicity was everything that is summertime. I tossed my dust rag aside and penned these words.
A Summer's Day
If I could go back to one day -- to a summer's day...
If I could go back to watermelons ripe, strings and kite, mimosa trees and skinned knees...
If I could go back to the joy of a favorite toy, to being Daddy's little girl and Mama's tomboy...
If I could go back to green, green grass that was greener than now ...
to crystal lakes that were clearer somehow...
Now, I know that those days are truly gone for I have a tomboy of my own,
but sometimes in the middle of a hectic day, my mind wanders away to...
watermelons ripe, strings and kite, mimosa trees, skinned knees and Daddy's little girl.
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