Monday, February 05, 2018

Barn Kittens and Backyard Spirits

My second wife Anne and I had many cats as pets through the years. My first was King Tut, Anne’s cat, which became part of my family when she and I married. Glancing through some old pictures, I found images of the second and third cat members of my family.
Anne and I were in the oil business. A drilling contractor named John was dating Sheryl, a young woman that worked for Anne and me. He had a little ranch on the west side of Oklahoma City, several horses, and a barn. Blessed by many barn cats, he gave two kitties named Buster and Squeaky, to Sheryl. Sheryl kept Buster and gave Squeaky to Anne and me.
Squeaky became our first female cat, and neither of us realized how fast these beautiful animals mature. Because of our oversight, Squeaky became pregnant and had a litter of beautiful kittens. We found good homes for all the kittens except for one, a calico we kept and named Chani after a character in the Dune series that Anne loved. Squeaky and Chani soon became inseparable. When Squeaky had her second litter, Chani wasn’t far away, and often as not in the litter basket with the kittens.
When the oil business busted, Anne and I lost our home and moved to a rented house, Chani, Squeaky and Tut moving with us. During the difficult years that ensued, we moved five times. Some of the cats didn’t live that long, but Chani made all five moves.
Calicos are three-colored cats, and they are always females. Chani was a gorgeous, three-colored cat with a distinctive voice. She always let you know when she was around. She loved affection and would live on your lap if you’d let her. She also liked to drink water from the tap.
Chani died at the age of nineteen, still the queen bee of our cat family until the time of her death. I buried her in the flower bed where she liked to lie in the spring and summer. Now Anne is dead, a victim of cancer, and spirits abound around the Wilder household. I’m fairly sure Chani still holds sway over her departed brothers and sisters. I’m also certain that Squeaky is around and she and Chani, as they were in life, are again inseparable.



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