The cat who ran away from home and broke my heart

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‘And other feline friends from days gone by’

Somewhere among the snapshots that used to live in the attic in a big cardboard box — the photos we were allowed to rummage through on rainy days (see ‘In An Alternate Universe, I Would Have Been a Redhead’) — is one of me with my Aunt Marilyn’s cat Herkimer.

I’m, oh, two in the picture, and poor Herkimer looks about as pleased at being clutched by a toddler as you can imagine. Aunt Marilyn said I used to thread the poor thing through the gaps in a wicker chair.

Now the cat in the picture at the top of this post looks marginally happier. And I look pleased as punch. This kitty never had a name that stuck (I kept coming up with names that didn’t ‘take’; for some strange reason, Christopher Columbus Kitty was one) so everybody just called him Kitty.

(I am notoriously bad at naming. As an adult, I had another cat named Kitty. In fact, when I was pregnant and trying to think of baby names, my Oldest Younger Brother Scott said “Why not just go with ‘Baby’? Since that’s what you’ll end up calling it.”)

The Dude poses with The Other Kitty Named Kitty. Before we had the Baby Who Is Now Called The Child

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In an alternate universe, I would have been a redhead

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‘What if Mom had married the Insurance Salesman?’

When we kids were bored and it was too rainy or too cold to throw us outside, our Mom would let us rummage through this big cardboard box of snapshots that she kept in the attic. Most of them were shots of family members. And all of them, in those days, were in black and white. Take this example, picturing my brothers Scott and Roger modeling (probably) Easter outfits, made by my Mom herself:

Incredibly cute, though typical, snapshot to be found in the big cardboard box

A typical, yet incredibly cute, snapshot to be found in the big cardboard box

We would pick through the pictures, admiring ourselves as Cute Little Tots, taking turns guessing the identities of the adults, and smirking at how funny everybody looked in the Olden Days.

No mistaking this relative: Aunt Net (short for Annette). Though we kids thought she was named after her hairnet

It was easy to spot Aunt Net (short for Annette, though we kids thought she was named after her hairnet)

One rainy boring day we were sifting away through the box and happened across a picture of an Adult We Didn’t Know. Who’s this? We asked our Mom. ‘Oh, that’s Jim. He’s a man I used to go out with.’ (‘Go out with? Like, as in on a date?’) We were shocked into horrified silence. Continue reading