He did not appear that day, or the next. I began to wonder where he'd gone, and walked all around to the sheds where he normally sleeps during the day, calling "Mikey, Mikey?" There was no sign of him, not hide nor hair. I rode up and down the road on my bike, looking into the ditches. No sign. He'd vanished, who rarely, if ever, in 2 years had missed a cat food dispensation on the porch. Mina and Mama Kitty were still there, but I realized now, I loved him best. There was none other like him. And now he was gone. Another day, and another, and I stopped calling for him, or looking for him, or expecting to see him. Deer wandered through the yard, the stray black, tailless cat came to sneak food, but no Mike.
No Mikey looked in the kitchen window past the toast counter in the early morning. No Mikey annoyed us when he hooked his claws into the porch screen door, banging it open and shut to get our attention. No Mikey threw himself down in front of our feet as we tried to walk into the kitchen. My husband came home from the grocery with a smaller bag of Meow Mix. Mikey's disappearance was so mysterious, and sudden, timed with the fracas on the porch. What did it mean? We've lived here so long, and there has never been anything frightening on our back porch.
Day 5. I decided it might have been a cougar attack in the night. I looked in the newspaper for possible cougar sightings in our neighborhood, but for once, even though this is the season for unverifiable cougar sightings (and UFOs), there was no mention of aliens or wild cats.
I called my mother on Sunday. She is old now, and losing her memory. I talk to her about things she doesn't have to remember. I told her my cat disappeared. It felt so good to tell her, because she has always reassured me. That wart on my foot will go away. No, the Russians will not start a nuclear war, during the Cuban missile crisis. How to shut down a 5th grade boy who was bullying me. She was sorry. She said, "Don't give up hope."
"But Mom," I said, "Country cats disappear. Your cats in Northern Minnesota didn't last too long." "No, they didn't" she said, "Pa wouldn't let them stay in at night, but Marion and I fixed up a place for them under the porch, and sometimes they stayed there." She used to tell us how her cat's ears would freeze in the frigid N. Minnesota winters, and get rounded-off, like mouse ears.
That night, just before I turned out the lights, one week after the incident on the porch, I heard a small meow at the screen door, and I knew it was that gone away boy-cat, Mikey, come back from oblivion. Oh, joy! I let him in, and he seemed fine. No slashed ear, missing fur, or mark on him. He must have been on a sabbatical, or kitty rumspringa, trying out new worldly ways. I was so glad, I rubbed him, scratched his chin, picked him up, carried him around, squeezed his fat paws. I love the moment when the story turns, after all hope is lost. I love when the cat comes back!
Of course, you know my story is about how my mom is disappearing, and that story doesn't have the twist, when her memory suddenly comes back. She will keep fading into the fog that gets denser all the time. Another time, and this good cat will disappear, and I will disappear, all good things, and bad, will.
But, it was a pretty good week, my best cat came back, and my mom and I had a nice talk on
Sunday. I'm starting to understand.