Two weeks ago, I wrote about the passing of our beloved Basset, Maggie. I received so many sweet notes of condolence over Maggie. I even had two people mention to me that I made them cry over breakfast, for which I felt a bit obliged to apologize, as they were tuning in on a Wednesday to read some silly inane column about, say, me getting stuck on the roof, not an elderly family pet dying.
So thanks for the kind notes, but also sorry if I ruined your breakfast.
As I was preparing to write last week’s column, I sat at my keyboard, poised to put words to screen. And my brain said, in a quite convincing manner, “Dude, you cannot write about pets dying two weeks in a row.”
So I have held off until this week.
Yes, the Gibbons family lost a second pet in a week, although this one was a little bit different than dear old sweet Maggie. This was Delilah, the evil cat who was forged deep in the bowels of hatred, her blood infused by the spirit of malice, and her lone mission in life to hate all living things, with the exception of two, my son and me.
We got Delilah 16 years ago. My friend Morris and I picked her out at the shelter. We got her as a gift for my wife, to help get her over her fear of cats. (My wife has come a long way in our relationship. When we met, she disliked personal contact with most any animal. Now it’s just birds.)
Delilah was a fluffy little ball of white and brown fur who, from her first day at my wife’s apartment, made it clear she hated most anything she came in contact with. She bit. She clawed. She mewed with a most menacing tone. She’d lie in wait by the side of the couch, waiting for some unsuspecting guest to walk past so she could fling herself, fully airborne, and attach to the leg, clawing and gnawing and mewing all the while. She was – and I am not understating this – simply an evil creature.
One time, as my wife was sleeping, Delilah perched on top of the head board. In the still of the night, she launched herself, landing squarely on my wife’s face, giving her a solid four-inch scratch straight down her forehead. This was two days before Halloween. My wife worked at a retirement community then. The residents all remarked at her wonderful Halloween costume – “That Frankenstein scar looks so real!!!”
On Halloween of 1998, Delilah went missing. We put posters up all over the neighborhood. We were kinda scared she would start taking out neighborhood kids. After a month, we had pretty much given up hope. Then one day, at work, I went outside and saw a kitty that looked suspiciously like Delilah. She came up to me, purring and nudging me. Our cat was about 16 pounds. This thing was maybe eight. I picked her up and looked in her ear – the shelter tattoo she got upon leaving matched up. Apparently, our evil gal had hitched a ride to work with me and had been living there the whole time, on a furious weight loss regimen. The next month was the lone time in her life she was sweet. Once she put the weight back on and had the strength to be evil, she was back in pure form.
Now, before you asked why we kept her – as many have over the years – we did so for three reasons: (1) we had gotten her from the pound, and agreed to be responsible for her (2) no one else was going to keep her and (3) she liked me. For whatever reason, she always gravitated to me. When I was lying on the couch watching TV, she would hop up and start snoozing on me. If anyone came near, she would lash out with furious anger. But to me? Always a cuddly little ball of fuzz.
My son was the other person she would tolerate. He’s a Dr. Doolittle with animals, and she agreed that she would suspend evil with him and let him pet her, and would occasionally snuggle with him.
Delilah passed the best way a pet can. When I went to bed, she mewed at me, reminding me that it was time for dinner. I scratched her head, she made a little purring noise and went to town on her food. Then, she climbed to her usual spot under her bed. In the morning, she was still there, same spot, looking as she did most every time she went to bed for the past 16 years.
It may sound as if I am talking badly about Delilah. I’m really not. That was who she was. She was our cat, and we had our understanding. I do miss my nightly passes with her, giving her a bowl of food as we trade pleasantries. Others remember her for other reasons. As one friend said, “I will look at the scar on my leg in remembrance of Delilah.” As another noted. “I will never forget the cat that taught me: If you think just because you’re a cat person that all cats like you, you couldn’t be more ignorant.”
When I informed Morris of the passing of his godcat, he had this reaction: “I’m just glad I was able to help bring terror to your home.”
Yes, she was an evil cat, full of hatred and bile and general loathing of most things living. But she was our cat. And I’m glad we had her for 16 years. I think we were destined to be her home, as I don’t think a lot of homes would have kept her. I think our vet summed it up best when I informed her of Delilah’s passing, just a week after Maggie died. “Poor Maggie. She only had a week of peace.”
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.