Mark and I were thinking today about the wonderful Christmas we had back in 2002. Just like this year, we had decided to just stay home for Christmas and not face the travel and stress. We were enjoying a very quiet Christmas Eve at home. I went to the front door to look out to see the night and the neighborhood and there, sitting right on the doorstep, was a big gray cat. We were already cat lovers, we had had our boy Nathan Jr. for a year and a half. This kitty seemed to need a place to sleep for the night so we let her in and fed her and we named her Miss L Toe (“mistletoe”). She quickly adapted and Nathan didn’t mind her so we had ourselves a cat, it looked like.
A few days into her visit, Mark suggested that she was awfully fat and maybe she was pregnant. I checked with out neighbor Katie and she agreed that, yes, she was VERY pregnant. Any day, we expected to have a batch of kittens.
This was Miss Toe lounging on our bed with a belly full of kittens. Time went on and we began to wonder if she was ever going to have those kittens. I looked up the gestation period for a cat and it is 72 days (I believe). We were entering March and were very close to 72 days from when we got her and she had been obviously pregnant even then. Yet she just grew bigger!
She sometimes lolled around and looked like she was a basketball dressed up in a kitten costume.
Finally, on March 4, we had babies. Mark and I went to San Antonio for him to play a gig with Guy Forsyth at the now defunct Casbeer’s. The gig lasted past 2 and then with packing up and driving home, we came in the door after 4 a.m. A quick look around the house and we discovered Miss Toe and 6 little babies in the box we had set up for her in the closet. She was such a sweet mother and so concerned as we delightfully examined each one against her will.
She was gray and five of the babies, 4 boys and a girl, were also various shades of gray and white. But one little kitten was an orange tabby and was quite distinctive from the rest.
Soon we saw that this little red-headed kitty was treated like a stranger by his brothers and sister and we named him Willie, the Red-Headed Stranger.
The other kittens were named Turbo, Mambo, Pinky, Ringo, and Amazing Grace. They were such fun. They almost had their eyes open when they were born, they were so overdue.
Mark went on a month-long tour of Europe within a few weeks of their birth. We had already arranged homes for some of the kittens, but Mark asked that I not give them to their new owners until he was home and could play with them some more. While he was still home, the kittens were pretty containable and we found that we could corral them easily in the bathtub if necessary. They couldn’t get out. But it seemed like the minute Mark walked out the front door the cats were mobile and could get out and go anywhere they wanted to. I had a house now with EIGHT cats constantly demanding my attention.
I remember standing in the kitchen trying to eat cereal while standing up and having kittens crawling up the inside and outside of my gown as they clamored for that milk. At night I would sit on the couch and try to eat and have a kitten on each shoulder.
And, no, they were most certainly not trained at this point. I was in my office and smelled something pretty strong. I crawled under the desk and on top of all the wires along the back of the desk were little piles of kitty poo in about the hardest place in the house to get it or clean it up. I’d get home from work and have to clean and mop the kitchen floor. They were messy.
So I was making those arrangements to move those kitties on out as soon as the new homes were ready. I made a trip to Waco and met up with a Dallas friend who took Pinky and Turbo. I went to LaGrange and gave Mambo and even mama Miss L Toe to someone that was willing to take her, too. Grace went off to San Antonio to my old roommate. Finally we were down to Ringo and Willie.
They were the cutest little things as they explored and roamed the house. We had found a home for Willie with Mark’s old roommate in Dallas, also named Mark. Sadly, Mark died unexpectedly and Willie was left an orphan. I found a radio station listener that was going to take Willie and then she decided she was allergic and didn’t want him anymore. At that point we realized that Willie needed us. I found a home with a co-worker for Ringo and Willie became our little baby kitten and he and Nathan eventually began to have a wonderful relationship together.
This morning Mark reminded me of Willie’s mother coming 9 years ago tonight and we decided that Willie was maybe the best delayed Christmas present we ever had.