Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mama's Last Cat


I look at the cat standing sentry atop my refrigerator. It isn’t a real cat; it’s a wooden cat, painted a jaunty black and white stripe with its tail impossibly long.

It isn’t even my cat. It had been my mother’s, a present I’d purchased for her at an import store to feed her feline fix and to remind her of traveling the world and how much she loved a good street market.

My beautiful, brilliant mother, laid out in a mechanical, antiseptic bed, underpants and teeth taken from her during her last sad days on this earth. Alternating between rage and sweet confusion, all she had left of the material world was this cat peering over her untouched dinners and a rendition of Van Gogh’s sunflowers hanging askew on the opposite wall next to a sign promising Sunday chapel services.

“I want to go home. Please take me home,” she begged, although home was thousands of miles away, an impossible gift from a daughter who would have if she could have, a grown up little girl who would have given anything to be able to.

My daddy always said the only good cat was a dead cat, but he put up with at least one at all times I can remember because of his love for my mama. But Daddy left us years ago.

On her last day, during my last visit, Mama looked up from her confusion and laughed as I saw her fingers trail an invisible arc in the air. “I just saw a cat jump up on that table and then run out the door,” she said, her eyes offering a passable semblance of merry.

I kissed her goodnight, told her I loved her and left, never to see my mother again.

I know in my heart it was my daddy who sent that particular dead cat to come get my mama to take her home.

The sunflowers greet me each day as I rise and shine. The striped cat watches over me as I break my morning bread.

14 comments:

melissa said...

Now I am a sweating, crying mess, sitting in my car drinking a coffee in a school parking lot waiting for my State licensor. Thank you, Mama. Thank you, Maw. Thank you, dead cat. I love all three of you.

marciamayo said...

And thank you Melissa for crying after reading my story. I love you too. I would say more than you know but I know you know because of Miles and Georgia.

cherylcrt said...

Yeah, thanks for the tears.
I think that Mitch Albom is only partially right - you may meet 5 people in Heaven (first), but I hope you also get to meet your pets. And I hope mine remember me.
Thanks for the blog. I eagerly await yours every time you post.

Anonymous said...

Oh Marcia, so beautiful. So touching, short but says so much about your Mom, Dad and you.
I'm left breathless. I'll be thinking of this for days to come. Mary B

cile said...

Always a pleasure to read your stories, Marcia. You put so much of yourself into them that they leap into the reader's heart! Thank you.

Celia said...

Oh my, such a vivid, touching memory. "Rage and sweet confusion" brought back memories of my own mother's passing. Then that night I had a dream of her standing on a bridge over an arroyo looking young like she was when I was about 3, and saying I couldn't come yet but she'd be there when it was time. Sweet that your mother was laughing towards the end.

Arkansas Patti said...

Beautiful account if a painful memory. It made my throat close tight feeling your frustration and pain, but also made me smile at the end.

Olga said...

Very touching. "Please take me home" brought the tears for me.

Friko said...

Such a sad little tale, but your memories of your mum are good. You and she were together until just before the end and you loved each other.

No wonder you love cats if your Mum loved them so.

Bev Sykes said...

When I'm getting ready to go, I expect an army of 4-legged critters waiting for me, to lead me to wherever my kids have been waiting all these years.

I loved your story, and especially the love between you and your mother.

freda said...

Memories are so sweet and so sore. thank you for sharing this one.

Wisewebwoman said...

Marcia, such beautiful writing, the kind that is delicate and unsentimental but evokes such powerful reaction in the reader.
Well done you!
XO
WWW

Kate said...

It's hard to let them go, even when the person we really love has gone away long ago. A beautiful, touching tribute to your mother, and your love for her. I'm glad you and she had that silly cat at the end, and all the times before.

Kate said...

wonderful story, Marcia. thanks.