Dad didn’t like cats. Mother attracted them like a magnet so needless to say, we had several of them when I was growing up. The first feeline I remember was a stray we called Mother Cat, even though she didn’t have a litter. We were living in Tucson, Arizona, and I was about eight. Mother Cat was gray with tiger stripes.
Soon after Mother Cat arrived, another stray showed up at our door, very pregnant. Mother took pity on her, named her Rosemary, and the cat had three kittens in my baby brother’s closet. Mother thought two of the kittens were males and one female so she named the boys Howard and James and the girl Wanda. When we later took them to the vet for the first time, we found out that Howard and James were also females, but the names had stuck by then.
James died, and Mother Cat walked off one day and never returned. Mother took Rosemary to the local humane society. Through the years, Howard and Wanda stuck with us. Howard was gray with tiger stripes like Mother Cat, and Wanda was white with black spots.
When Wanda was old enough to understand relationships between humans and feelines, she picked up on Dad’s dislike of cats and decided she didn’t like him, either. The following poem which appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders is written from Wanda’s point of view. It illustrates how she expressed her dislike of my father. For a rare treat, click below to hear me read it. This link will be available for a limited time.
FROM YOUR FORMER FEELINE HOUSEMATE
I’m the one she put to sleep
when life’s pain was too great.
You told her you didn’t like me.
Maybe it was a guy thing,
but the feeling was mutual.
She insisted on calling me Wanda,
thought I could be a witch
so as far as you were concerned, I was.
I peed in your shoes at night
then stood by in the morning when you put them on.
The look on your face was priceless.
You swore and threatened to throw me twenty feet.
Believe me, if I could have,
I would have done the same to you,
right out the second story bedroom window,
then stood on the sill and watched you fall.
When you brought that big, red dog home,
I hated you even more.
I could no longer pee in your shoes
because the dog slept next to the bed
so I peed on your favorite love seat.
Imagine your shock
when you sat down with the latest issue of The New Yorker
to discover a wet cushion.
After many years,
we’re reunited in the hereafter,
you, her, me, and that big, red dog.
Oh well, I’ll have to make the best of it.
Hmmm, I need to pee.