this is lucky the cat. he arrived in our family on christmas day, 1993, surprising my youngest sister in her bed – a tiny black cat, not a drop of white on him, mewing and nuzzling her. he was born on halloween (hence the name) of that year, and he has been with our family ever since. a more gentlemanly cat you will not ever find. i have never met a cat that awaits permission to join you, but this one does: he waits patiently at your feet as you lounge on the couch, staring at your face quietly until you notice him. from there, all you have to do is pat the couch or your lap, and he is there in a flash, settles down immediately, and commences purring like an engine. when he was little, his purr was so loud we thought he might just vibrate off of a lap.
one of his earliest exploits we could entitle “lucky v. milk glass”. this episode occurred when lucky was a tiny kitten, a tiny kitten with a nose and a hunger for fresh milk. he made his way on to the kitchen table and across to a tall glass that had contained milk but that now contained just a quarter of an inch at the bottom of the glass. well, lucky went for it. he squeezed his teeny head down into the glass in pursuit of the milk, realized he couldn’t reach it, and attempted to abort the plan. unfortunately, he got his feet down but simply tilted his head back, bringing the glass with him. as his little cat brain screamed ABORT! ABORT! he backed up in a panic, a tall glass teetering over his head as the last bits of milk rained down on him, and he very nearly fell off the table had we not seen and grabbed him and the glass. he scampered off in a bit of a huff, only to be found later happily cleaning off all of the milk that had drenched him.
another time, lucky disappeared. we didn’t know how. we searched our neighborhood high and low, to no avail. a day went by, two days went by, still nothing. my sister and i set out again to search (on our way to the park – we were coldhearted kids, apparently) astride our two-wheelers. we lived on a curved street, and as we rounded the curve towards the park we heard a plaintive “MEOW.” and yet – not a cat in sight. but we definitely had heard it, and then heard it again. “MEOW.” we looked and looked, calling out to lucky til we finally found the source: the sewer drain. about four feet down, there was lucky, or at least his gold eyes (all we could see of him) staring up at us. we flew home as we had never had before, bursting into the kitchen for treats, and then back to the drain. he was still there, a little damp and a bunch scared. pleading and bribing, we finally got him to jump out of the drain and into our arms, and we carried him triumphantly home.
lucky loved being outside. he would often make a quick exit at an unattended door, and from there a beeline to the raised back deck. moving quickly to the back corner, he would tuck himself there, tail twitching in happiness and excitement, and i’m sure in the fact that we couldn’t reach him. as he got older and a bit more sedate, i would fashion a harness for him out of rope, walk him into the center of the backyard, and sit under a tree with him as he gazed upon those which fascinated him most: birds. man, his tail would twitch and twitch, but he would quietly inspect these creatures, never making an attempt to attack. lucky’s fifteen now, and just two weeks ago he made a dash for the back door, despite the snow on the ground and the thirty-degree temperatures. this time, though, lucky was wise – he was waiting by the back door not two seconds later.
today, lucky will go to sleep and not wake up. he’s been in pain for a while, has a skin disorder that makes petting him difficult and is irritating enough to him that he pulls out his own hair. i hope, as he falls asleep, he gets to burst through the back door into the backyard on a sunny, seventy-degree day, curl up under the tree and sit back to enjoy the birds, the breeze, and the day, in full knowledge that he won’t be chased this time, that this time he gets to do whatever he wants. love you, lucky duck.
Editor’s note: as they inspected lucky before his final appointment, they found a cancerous tumor on his hind leg. we know now that he was probably in much more pain than his purring let on, and i’m glad he’s no longer feeling it. he purred right up until the end.