Once upon a time, there were three grandsons of preschool age. There was also one very large youthful black cat.
The boys quickly learned that if they were gentle with the cat, he would reward them with loud purring.
When the grandsons came to visit, they’d race into the house.
The cat raced under my bed.
Within minutes, the kids were down on the floor in my bedroom, circling the bed and the cat.
Poor BlackJack. He knew better than to bite or claw and he didn’t stand a chance against three boys. Sooner or later, one of the boys would get his hand on the 18 pounds of fur and muscle and pull the mildly protesting cat out from his hiding place.
The kids had their routine. The three boys, with the cat in the center, would sprawl on Grandma’s bed and catch up with the happenings of their lives or make plans for their time together. In time, BlackJack showed the boys his favorite hiding place on the shelf of a large bay window. The four would often curl up on a blanket in bay window, hiding from the adult world behind white linen curtains.
On the bed or in the bay window, BlackJack would eventually roll over on his back and purred along with their conversation while the boys rubbed his tummy. The cat looked like a furry Buddha.
The kids adored him.
In time, the oldest of the three boys joined the 4H and got some hens and a rooster for his project. He named the rooster BlackJack. Neither his mom nor I could ever figure out the connection, but to a seven year old, it made perfect sense.
It was not too long after the year of 4H that BlackJack the Rooster died. Mom wasn’t too terribly concerned about informing the young owner as she had now taken over care of the remaining birds. She waited for her son to come home from school and sat him down.
I have some sad news. BlackJack died this morning.
My young grandson’s lower lip began to quiver and tears welled up in his eyes. Mom was not expecting this.
Honey, he was an old rooster and had lived…
The Rooster? The Rooster? I thought you meant Grandma’s cat. Jeez, Mom, he was just a rooster.
But BlackJack the cat…he was one of the gang.
Then, as things are apt to happen, the three boys grew into young men. They got much taller, much louder with much deeper voices, and BlackJack the cat grew older as well.
During this last visit, the boys occasionally tried to entice BlackJack out from under my bed, but the cat was having nothing to do with the teenagers. He no longer wanted to hear about their adventures or be part of the old gang.
BlackJack spent the better part of their visit hiding under my bed, coming out only to grab a bite of food when the boys were at the lake, or curling up with me at bedtime.
When the travelers got the car packed and headed off, it was a while before BlackJack ventured out. He was exhausted and stretched out to sleep first on the couch, then on my bed.
But, for hours, every time a car drove by, his ears would perk up and BlackJack would stare out the front screen door, just to make sure the kids weren’t returning. When a car had safely driven past our driveway, he’d curl up to rest again. Soon, he fell into a well-deserved deep sleep.
Truth be told, as much as I love everyone showing up, I know just how BlackJack feels.
I think I’ll join him for a nap.