Friday, February 22, 2008

Sam

I usually met Sam on the red concrete steps at the rear entrance; it was the morning side and he liked the sun warming his beat-up old body after a rough night. Sam was gray--different shades--and missing most of one ear--the left, I think, and sometimes his fur was matted with blood from the evening's activities, but it's been nearly sixty years: I can't be sure. There was nothing at all gentle about Sam; I have no idea how many deaths he had in his past: a finite number, I'm sure, but who knows how many, counting rodents, birds, and other cats, most likely.

Sam was the first pet animal I knew: I was maybe four--but somehow "pet" doesn't quite fit--he was too independent for that, a child could see it. He stayed with my Uncle and Aunt across the street, or, at least, showed up for food and a nap in the sun on a regular basis. I don't remember Sam inside; he may have gone in at times for various reasons, but I see him always outside, usually in the back, in the sun, or stalking the quail in the lot next door, where my grandfather had planted blackberry bushes on the far side.

Despite his experience and general temperament, Sam was remarkably patient and forgiving with small children; I can remember hoisting him by his tail, as much as I could lift him off the steps (not much) and being looked at with a world weary cat's eye, as he waited for the experiment to cease, which only took a few seconds, given that he weighed about a third of what I did. An adult of any species would still have the scars. Animals clearly sense a difference between children and adults; Sam was the first to teach me that, and I haven't forgotten it.

RIP, old Tomcat

10 comments:

FranIAm said...

What a story- thank you. I found your words very poignant - the sensory perception of the animals, especially to children.

johnieb said...

A friend forwarded some very nice pics of babies/ toddlers and animals, which prompted the memory, but I can't figure out how to download them from his e-mail.

One of the struggles for us Luddites.

BTW, I have family in Nyack; a cousin of my daughter's, whom I see mostly at his mom's in the Bronx.

PseudoPiskie said...

Can you drag the photos to the desktop?

johnieb said...

That's what I was trying to do.

susan s. said...

Are there evidences of documents at the end of the email? That might work, but you probably have tried that. What kind of computer do you have?

johnieb said...

PC, and yer right, there are not.

pj said...

What a great memory. Aw, Sam. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

(I've been hanging out with you folks for too long, obviously.) :)

johnieb said...

As long as ya keep doing it, ya can think as ya please.

Anonymous said...

ya got it wrong - you were SAM'S pet.

Cats, dogs, horses - most domesticated animals recognize the young of the species. I had an occasionally ornery horse who would be just as gentle as could be when he was taken to the local special-needs day camp. He liked to give me sh*t once in a while, to remind me of his independent nature - but he was happy to be poked and prodded by kids who had never had pony rides before.

NancyP

johnieb said...

Yer right, Nancy P; that does make more sense. As I said, it was Sam teaching me.