The Quotidian Scribe

Ordinary Thoughts, Essays and Short Stories

Those All-Important Final Words


I’m not one to wax philosophical – mainly because my brain simply doesn’t run that deep – but I do find myself contemplating various topics now more than I used to. 


For instance, I recently saw the obituary for yet another high school classmate. It was a loving tribute highlighting his talents and accomplishments, and it was clear that he’ll be missed by many. It got me thinking because, the older I get, the more these little mortality reminders pop up. My classmates and I are at that age where many of us have lost our parents and are now the patriarchs or matriarchs of our families. Retirement is our new way of life, and the probability of looking sexy in a bathing suit has gone out the window for a good number of us. We may still feel young mentally – I know I do – but our bodies are starting to argue the point. Personally, I’ve redefined the phrase “I’m in the prime of my life” to mean, when I sit down on the floor, I can still maneuver myself into a standing position again without having to call for backup.


Thinking about classmates who have essentially moved on reminds me of a song by Paul Simon called The Obvious Child. It became a favorite of mine when it was released over 30 years ago because it was catchy and had an infectious beat. It also told a story although, back then, I didn’t relate to it much. I just liked the way it sounded. But listening to it now elicits more than just the urge to groove to the music. The song highlights a middle-aged man who’s looking through his high school yearbook and thinking about how life has changed from then to now. I don’t consider it a sad song, but it does serve as a testament to the fact that time passes, lives get lived, and things may or may not turn out as we’d hoped or planned.


Side Note: Talking about that high school yearbook brings back a less-than-stellar moment in my own young life when, at some point in my twenties, I was humiliated by an incident that involved a former classmate. I didn’t even know the person very well, but my ego was bruised to the point that, on a foolish whim, I vandalized my own senior yearbook by tearing out the page containing her photo. This actually resulted in multiple pages being ripped out because of the way the book was bound, and the whole thing was a rather uncharacteristic tantrum on my part. The offending incident itself isn’t important anymore, and my humiliation is all but forgotten, but I’ll never get those yearbook pages back. And that makes me sad because they contained pictures of a lot of other people who did not deserve to be tossed aside. I’ve only had a few regrets throughout my life, but that is definitely one of them.


Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Long ago, I used to make fun of my parents because so many of their conversations seemed to center around which of their friends was sick, in the hospital, or on a slab. Okay, they weren’t quite as indelicate as that, but you get my drift. It’s not that they didn’t have less macabre topics to discuss – they certainly had other interests – but my folks didn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening around them. Their circle of friends and acquaintances had begun to slowly get smaller and, as time went on, that sense of dwindling picked up speed. They were at that not-so-magical age where slipping from this realm to the next was becoming more and more common.


These days, when I see obituaries for my classmates, it hits me – yet again – that I really am turning into my parents. They were probably about the age I am now when I first noticed how often they talked about the decline – or demise – of someone they knew. Hearing about the passing of my own classmates now is like being initiated into the club my parents belonged to 30 years ago. I won’t be so crass as to call it the One Foot in the Grave, the Other on a Banana Peel Club – mainly because the majority of my peers aren’t anywhere near the end of the line – but we can’t hide from the fact that none of us is getting any younger, and the inevitable is…well…inevitable.


As sad as I am for the families of my friends who have passed away, there is something almost joyful in reading about the lives their loved ones led. No matter what or how much was accomplished during that person’s time on earth, the tributes are generally heartwarming and full of love. That doesn’t happen simply because the grieving family feels compelled to say something nice. It happens because the one who died left something miraculous behind. They left a part of themselves in everyone they crossed paths with. And unless the deceased was a downright-dirty-lowlife-curmudgeon, the part they left behind was a sort of gift…a way to always be around even after they’d gone.


When I think about those beautiful tributes, I can’t help but wonder what sort of sentiments I’ll leave behind. My introverted self isn’t always comfortable engaging with others but, more often than not, it’s a social necessity. When I find myself in those situations, I try to be connected and kind and, yes, even humorous. That’s because it’s important to me to make some sort of tiny, positive impact if I can. Nothing pleases me more than the idea that, on occasion, I may have had a hand in making someone smile. It isn’t a monumental thing, but it is something.


As far as what might be said about me in remembrance, I know I won’t be hailed for any major accomplishments because, in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t accomplished anything particularly major. And that’s okay. Lots of us have managed to be quite useful and significant even if we’ve lived our lives under the radar.


So, when the time presents itself – hopefully very far off in the future – I figure my obituary will be simple and succinct. Perhaps something along the lines of:


She made people laugh.

Sometimes on purpose.


Yeah. I could live with that. Well…maybe not live exactly but, again, you get my drift.


Here’s a little rhythmic gift. Enjoy!

Care to Share?

A Year Under the Belt

I think a lot about the passage of time. Not in a maudlin way – I’ve learned not to dwell on lost opportunities – but in that wistful “Where did the time go?” fashion. One day you’re going about your business, doing this or feeling that, and then you blink and it’s 5, 10…20 years later.


Even though I retired in 2020, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Those years have really flown by. When I look at my little girls, I wonder how on earth they became middle-aged women. (No offense, sweeties.) And it recently dawned on me that this blog has been live for a full year. Seems like only yesterday I was cursing all those online gurus who prattled on about how easy it was to create a website and start a blog. The first thing I learned during that whole process was that the concept of “easy” is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Or, in this case…the be-doer.


But I did manage to do it, so…Happy Birthday to The Quotidian Scribe! This has been the outlet for writing that I’d hoped it would be and, even when I stress myself out by putting things off until right before the deadline, I’m still enjoying the ride. In the beginning, there was a part of me that figured it wouldn’t last half this long. Turns out I apparently don’t know when to rein myself in, so it’s still going. The following essay is proof of that.


Like I said earlier, my thoughts about the fleeting aspect of time aren’t usually downers, but I suppose the essay you’re about to read might be construed as a bit maudlin by some. It’s not intended to be that at all, though. It’s just a reflection of where my thoughts sometimes take me when it comes to this current phase of life.


Click the button below to read Those All-Important Final Words.

Care to Share?

Darcy’s Dastardly Deed


A study in professional perfection, Darcy stands before the elevator doors. Holding a supple leather bag against her tailored suit, she gently taps her right toe against the marble tile. The Italian pump makes tiny, rhythmic clicks while her beautifully chiseled features mask her agitation. It takes great restraint not to bolt for the stairs.

Darcy hopes no one notices her fidgeting. Chances are, no one does. Most people wouldn’t pay much attention to one businesswoman waiting for an elevator in a high-rise. There are a dozen offices on this floor alone, and she could have come from any one of them.

Waiting for the elevator to arrive, she allows her thoughts to drift back to the events that brought her to this point.


Earlier that day, Darcy settled in behind her desk to check her messages. There was only one, but the hair stood up on the back of her neck as she listened to the hostility pouring from the voice of her husband’s best friend. His message was brief but clear.

“I know what’s been going on and I’m not gonna let you make a fool of Pete. I plan on telling him everything, but first I want to hear what you have to say for yourself. Call me.”

Darcy rose from her chair and walked slowly over to the window. Staring out across the city, she pondered the implications. So, he knew. She really shouldn’t be surprised. She was, after all, fooling around with one of his associates. Stupid on her part, for sure, but what was done was done. Time for a little damage control.

Walking back to her phone, Darcy dialed his number from memory. When he answered, she said meekly, “Alex, it’s me. Don’t say anything, just listen. I got your message and, you’re right, we do have to talk about this. I don’t know if it will do any good, but I need to try and make you understand. I’ll be there in an hour.” She hung up before he had a chance to respond.

Darcy then called her secretary and said she’d be holed up in her office for the remainder of the day and was not to be disturbed under any circumstances. Grabbing her tote bag, she made her way down the back hall to the company lab. Luckily, it was lunchtime, and the staff was nowhere to be seen. Opening and closing various unlocked cabinets – their internal security wasn’t the finest – she soon found what she needed.

Taking the back stairs to the basement, Darcy slipped through the shadows and softly opened the maintenance manager’s door. As usual, he was leaning back in his chair and snoring to beat the band. She was able to sneak over to his tool bench and grab what she wanted without him so much as changing his rhythm.

Traffic was light and she made it to Alex’s building sooner than expected. When Darcy exited the elevator on his floor and started down the hall, she could see through the glass doors that his reception area was empty. Feeling rather charmed, she darted around the secretary’s desk and tiptoed down the short corridor to Alex’s office. The door was ajar, and he was on the phone with his back to her. She stepped in quietly and closed the door, careful not to let the latch click. Just as she was reaching into her bag, Alex turned around. He nearly dropped the receiver as he was hanging up.

“Hey! How long have you been standing there? Why’s the door shut?”

“Relax, Alex, I just got here.” Gesturing toward the door, she said, “Considering the delicate subject matter, I prefer your secretary not overhear. She wasn’t at her desk, so I just came on back. Please…I hope you don’t mind.”

The uncharacteristic softness in her demeanor seemed to throw him off a little. “Uh, no…no, it’s fine. You just startled me, that’s all.”

Darcy stood just inside the door and smoothed the side of her hair with a shaky hand. “Alex, would it be okay if I sit down? I’m a little nervous about this. I’m sure you can understand that.”

“Of course,” he said, gesturing to one of the guest chairs. “Look, Darcy…this isn’t easy for me, either. But Pete and I go back to when we were kids, and I’m just looking out for him.” Alex seemed to relax a little when she dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “I don’t want to be a hard ass about this, but something’s got to give.”

Darcy let out a heavy sigh and nodded. “You’re absolutely right. He deserves better. A lot better. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking lately. I’m coordinating a new research project that’s got me under a lot of pressure and, with all of Peter’s late meetings, we hardly see each other anymore. I guess I was looking for some way to vent my frustrations. But, believe me, Alex, I know that doesn’t justify an affair.” Dabbing her eyes again, she went on, “For what it’s worth, I’ve broken it off, and I really do want to make our marriage work. I just don’t know if that’ll be possible if you tell Peter what I’ve done. He’ll never forgive me and, in the end, he’ll be miserable, too.”

Darcy got up and walked around Alex’s desk to look out the window. Keeping her back to him, she held the bag in front of her and slipped her hand inside.

Alex came over and stood next to her. “This is a side of you I’ve never seen before. Listen, I know we’re not exactly close, but maybe I haven’t given you a fair shot. I’d like to change that.”

Smiling slightly, Darcy turned and hugged him. Just as he was releasing her, she jammed the needle deep into his neck. A slight gurgling sound was all he managed as he sank to the carpet. His stupefied look caused her smile to widen.

“Alex, Alex, Alex…I feel it’s my duty to tell you that you really should be more careful about who you trust. But don’t worry. The effects only last about an hour, and this won’t take nearly that long. Of course, if you’re still mentally in the here and now when this stuff wears off, you’ll wish you were dead. At the very least, you’ll wish you’d stayed out of my business.” She wasn’t sure he could even hear her at this point – it was an extremely powerful paralytic, after all – but she kept talking. “You know, Alex, you’re not a horrible person, and I kind of hate having to do this. But…sadly…you gave me no alternative.”

Darcy reached inside the bag once again and, this time, pulled out surgical gloves, a disposable coverall, a scalpel, and a bolt cutter. After donning the coverall and snapping on the gloves, she knelt down and thought she saw a gleam of terror in Alex’s eyes as she leaned closer to…


 DING!” The elevator doors open just as a woman’s piercing scream travels down the hall from the vicinity of Alex’s office. With a hint of a smile, Darcy enters the elevator.

Back on the main floor, she strolls to the restroom and goes in, locking the door behind her. Lucky for her, Alex was old-school enough to use a paper calendar. From inside her bag, she draws out the page that has her name scribbled on it, crumples it up, and tosses it into the toilet. The coverall and implements of destruction are stowed inside a large zip-lock baggie that she’ll dump on the way back to work, but there are a few other items she decides to discard before leaving the building. Reaching back into her bag, Darcy pulls out a second baggie, mentally inventorying the contents as she drops each item into the toilet. She hits the flush lever and purses her lips as she watches eight fingers, two thumbs, two eyeballs, one tongue, and one nose swirl swiftly out of sight.

That last souvenir wasn’t particularly necessary, but she simply couldn’t resist. Including it with all the others gives her a great deal of satisfaction. There are those who would disagree with her assessment, but Darcy doesn’t consider herself a monster. No, not at all. If anything, she’s a public servant. Because of her diligence in leaving no stone unturned, Alex will not be sticking his nose into anyone else’s business ever again.


Care to Share?

The Importance of Staying in Your Lane

The short story you’re about to read is pretty far out of my comfort zone. It may be out of yours, too. If that’s the case, I’ll apologize upfront.

Without giving too much away, I’ll just say this little vignette differs greatly from my usual tales that tend to have rather feel-good endings. It’s what you might call “light horror,” and it details what happens when a well-meaning friend inserts himself where he isn’t welcome.

While I generally don’t mind sharing my mental space with the characters in my stories, I prefer the woman in this one never darkens my cerebral door again. She’s not exactly what I’d consider friend worthy.

Click the button below to read Darcy’s Dastardly Deed.

Care to Share?

A Walk with Mom


I took a walk today. The cold, brisk wind made me scrunch my hands up inside my sleeves, and each breath blew away on its own little cloud. Before long, Mom joined me. Just fell in step out of nowhere. She’ll do that sometimes.

I asked her how she’d been. She said she was having a wonderful time, and I could hear the smile in her voice. After all the pain she had endured, how incredible it was that she was now well enough to keep up with me.

I told her I wished we had been more patient with her during her illness. I felt her lean in close, and she assured me we had done a beautiful job and that she is awfully proud of us. She admonished me not to dwell on the past. I watched the wind blow leaves across the road and promised I would try.

We walked along quietly for a while and then I told her that I’d really been missing her. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and never let her go, but I couldn’t. I just kept walking. Besides, I knew it wouldn’t change anything.

All too soon, she said it was time for her to leave. She whispered, “I love you,” I felt her kiss my cheek, and then she was gone.

I tried to smile, but it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I touched my cheek where she’d kissed me. It was cold from the wind.

As I continued my walk, I was at least grateful to have spent part of it with someone I’ve loved since before I was born. Her essence had been there, even though her body had long been gone.

Maybe the next time she shows up, she’ll stay a while longer. That would be nice. There’s always so very much to catch up on.

Care to Share?

Wintry Highs and Lows

February is a month of rollercoaster emotions for me.

For one, there’s Valentine’s Day. I’m not a particularly romantic person, and I’ve always felt a little guilty for not enjoying the whole hearts and flowers thing. But, truth be told, it’s just never been my jam. 

On the brighter side, though, February is a month with several family birthdays, including mine and my dad’s. When Dad was still alive, it was always nice to get together and celebrate his birthday. And even though I don’t relish being the center of attention, I do enjoy the well-wishes I receive from friends and family on my own special day.

But the end of February is rough. At least it has been for the past 23 years. It signals the end of my mom’s time on this earth. Her faith was strong, she was ready to go, and I felt privileged to be there – honored, actually – to help usher her from this world to the next. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. But a relentless, brutal pain always accompanies that beautiful memory. More than two decades later, I still can’t stop feeling sorry for myself. Anyone who has experienced it will attest to this…there’s nothing happy about being a motherless child.

I try not to dwell on it, and I usually do a pretty good job of keeping it on my mental back burner, but sometimes it sneaks out when I’m not looking and sideswipes me. That happened recently when I was going through some old writing files and came across a piece I wrote around 20 years ago. It’s an extremely short, less-than-stellar essay, but it did manage to be a finalist in a small publication’s contest back in the day.

Not sure if I believe it or not, but there’s a part of me that would like to think Mom led me to uncover this old “story” so I could share it here. It’s certainly better than letting it continue to wither away in a drawer.

Click below to read A Walk with Mom.

Care to Share?

Has Anyone Seen My Youth?


I’ve quickly come to realize that most of my blog essays carry a common theme. They center around “senior life.”

That’s a topic I never intended to zero in on. As a matter of fact, I’d hoped to steer clear of it as much as possible. The last thing I wanted to do was dwell on my lost youth yet, every time I turn around, there it is. That not-so-subtle reminder that I’m no longer a sweet young thing.

When I asked myself why I’ve failed so miserably at disregarding my age — and yes, myself and I do have full-blown conversations — the answer was an old adage. Writers often ask what they should write about, and the short and sweet response is generally this: “Write what you know.”

I must say, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing of late because my knowledge of learning to live as an “older adult” gets stronger with each passing day. My mind may still feel young, but my body has taken to thumbing its nose at the very notion of ever feeling young again.

When I think about being older, I often ponder the joys – and even challenges – of being retired. And I question whether there are expectations for this time of life that aren’t being met.

If you’re interested in how I’m handling this golden opportunity of retirement, click the link below to read “Should” Doesn’t Equal Productivity.

Care to Share?

“Should” Doesn’t Equal Productivity

Since retiring, the term “being productive” has come to mean something entirely different to me than it did when I was still a member of the workforce.

Back then, it meant successfully dealing with phone calls, emails, reports, and deadlines. It meant handling whatever issues popped up at any given moment. And it meant dragging myself out of bed every workday before the sun came up just so I could show up at the office and do it all over again.

Nowadays, “being productive” means sitting in the car waiting for a pick-up order from Walmart, hitting the pharmacy drive-thru for a prescription (or two…or four), and physically shopping inside a store. I truly believe that last one deserves some sort of award. I mean, I actually have to dress enough to be presentable, and I have to continually put one foot in front of the other until I get back to my car.

Other productive days involve out-of-town trips to the doctor and those, most likely, include stopping at Meijer somewhere along the way because we don’t have one here in Bloomington. (Off-topic: That’s a subject my husband would really like to take up with the city powers that be.)

Not only do the aforementioned scenarios not sound all that productive, but they happen only occasionally. They’re peppered in among what I’ve come to think of as my typical, not-so-productive days. Those are the days when I don’t roll out of bed until after 10:00 am, I may or may not change out of my nightclothes, and the farthest I venture is the length of the driveway to collect the mail. And, yeah…that’s often while I’m still in my jammies.

In my mind, those not-so-productive days tend to equate to little more than wasted time. And dwelling on the amount of time I waste never fails to send me on a trip to the Land of Should. I sit on a bench just inside its town limits and mentally flog myself for not filling my days with all the things I think I should be doing. I even feel guilty for not doing what I believe other people think I should be doing.

Has anyone ever sat me down, furrowed their brow, and admonished me for not doing all the things I should since I retired? No. Have they accused me of passively living what should be the most unencumbered years of my life? No. Have they given me a list of everything I should be devoting my time to? Again…no. As with most things that chip away at my sense of self-worth, it’s all in my head. I’m an absolute pro when it comes to should-ing all over myself.

While there’s no question that I could be doing a lot more when it comes to being a productive individual, that’s no reason to discount the decades when I was up and out and working for a living day after day after day. I spent years looking forward to the day when my time would finally be my own to do with as I pleased, and I did everything required to earn that privilege. Yet, ever since that day arrived, I’ve had this judgy little pissant lurking in the back of my mind. It gets a real kick out of railing at me about how my life can’t possibly be fulfilling because it doesn’t mirror the lives of other retirees. You know…the ones who travel and take up new hobbies and play pickleball. I compare myself to them and feel somewhat deficient. The fact that I’ve never felt drawn to any of those activities doesn’t matter. I tell myself I should be drawn to them or, at the very least, to something similar.

It’s times like this – when I’m reflecting on my perceived shortcomings – that I settle myself in for a Come to Jesus talk to try and gain a better perspective. I’d like to say I’m a worthy opponent, but history has shown my opinion never wins out after one of those little tête-a-têtes. Let’s face it…Jesus just always has the better argument. Like, when it comes to this particular subject. I spend a lot of energy assuming I’m mishandling my schedule-less schedule and, any moment now, the Productivity Police are going to knock down my door and take away my retirement card. That’s crazy, of course. As this most recent Come to Jesus talk has shown me, it makes no difference what anyone else thinks about the way I spend my time. I mean, it literally is my time, after all. I just have to stop feeling guilty about what I do with it.

Easier said than done. I waste tons of my precious time worrying about the opinions of others. It’s been one of my biggest flaws for as long as I can remember. And what makes the whole thing almost comical is the fact that, truth be told, it’s highly unlikely that anybody cares one way or the other about what I’m doing on any given day. They have their own lives to think about. Regardless of what my massive ego may claim…it isn’t always about me.

My guess is I’m not alone when I question whether I’m taking advantage of my golden years the way I should. I figure there’s a fair number of retirees out there who wonder about their own productivity. For their sake, I just hope they don’t go as far as I do when it comes to worrying about what others think. It’s not only pointless, it’s exhausting. Honestly, the concept of “should” has no right to rent space in anybody’s head.

So, I’m putting a stop to it. The worry, I mean. I still believe it’s important to be productive, and I’ll still do the things that must be done. But I’ll also do the things I want to do regardless of how it might look to someone else. Besides, it’s pretty much been established that the “someone else” I worry about probably doesn’t even exist.

On my productive days, I’ll continue to bask in the feeling of accomplishment after taking care of the essential To-Do’s. And I’ll keep in mind that productivity isn’t limited to the things that must be done. It includes things I want to do…like tending to my Bucket List, such as it is. When I was dreaming of retirement, I placed only two things in that bucket, and those were to finish and publish the books I first drafted many years ago. One is almost to the finish line and, while the process hasn’t been what I expected, the result will be the same. It soon will be out there in the world for all to see – good, bad, or ugly. The second book is in the editing stage. A stage, I might add, that is absolutely no fun and seems to take for-bloody-ever. Still, it’s part of the process and definitely falls into the category of productivity.

On my not-so-productive days – which I’ve decided to affectionately rename “Sloth Days” – I’ll unapologetically enjoy soaking up the decadence of having nothing in particular that must be done. I’ll stop worrying about whether or not I’m being productive. And I’ll shovel the should off my path and be grateful for the opportunity to simply be.

This may be taking me a lot longer than it does others, but I am eventually going to get the hang of this whole retirement gig.

Care to Share?

It’s All About Family


Many things in our lives create a feeling of joy. Fiery sunsets, swaying trees, laughing children, nostalgic music, the smell of bacon…the list goes on and on. When you ask people what brings them the most joy, it’s not uncommon for them to say that family tops the list.

Interestingly, the beings that make up a family aren’t always related. Sometimes they’re not even human…well, not in the technical sense of the term. But that doesn’t make them any less valuable or loved. And it doesn’t make it any less painful when they leave us.

Click below to get my take on how Pets Are People, Too.

Care to Share?

Pets Are People, Too


What is it about people’s furry little loves that turn them into spineless pantywaists? There are pet parents out there who can bravely face combat, ruthlessly broker million-dollar deals, and unapologetically evict nonpaying tenants. But…if their dogs — or cats or pythons (ugh) or whatevers — nudge them perilously close to the edge of the bed each night, they’re rendered utterly powerless.

Man versus puppy…and the puppy wins every time. Although in our case, the bed hogs have always been cats. Succumbing to a pet’s whims would be downright pathetic if said pet wasn’t so stinkin’ cute. And those of us with critter-kids can relate. We know we do it. We roll our eyes when we admit we do it. And, still, night after restless night, we continue to do it.

But why do we do it? Why do we give in to nearly every little demand our fur-covered children toss at us? The simple answer is that we care about our pets and want them to be comfortable…even if we wind up being less than comfortable in the process. But, for a lot of us, it goes deeper than that. We anthropomorphize our pets. We give them people-thoughts and people-feelings. We actually fear that, if we do something they don’t like, they’ll be upset and hold it against us.

Sounds a bit irrational, doesn’t it? I mean, animals don’t hold grudges, right?

Wrong. They do, and lots of us know this from experience. For example, we had a grey tabby many years ago that seemed to be a normal feline with normal feline tendencies. Max meowed for food, liked being scratched under her chin, and used her hind claws to try to slash the guts out of any stuffed toy she was given to play with. But she also had feelings. Like people have feelings.


Max decided to show us how strong her feelings could actually be when my mom was ill. I was away from home a lot during that time, going back and forth from our town to my parent’s home so I could help with Mom’s care. That went on for over a year and, more than midway into that time period, Max started pooping on the guest room bed. Not every day, but every little whipstitch. After about the third or fourth incident, we decided to keep the door to that room closed. That didn’t deter Max, though. She just decided to poop on our bed instead. Again, it wasn’t daily, but it happened often enough to be an issue. Max acted fine in every other regard, but we thought this behavior might be her way of telling us she was in a health crisis, so we took her to the vet.

The doc gave Max a clean bill of health and then asked if anything had changed in our routine at home. So, I filled him in on my frequent absences due to my mom’s illness. He quickly determined that the disruption to Max’s sense of normalcy was the reason for those occasional unwelcome gifts on our bedspread. Apparently, she disliked the fact that I wasn’t at her beck and call as much as I used to be, and this was her way of expressing her displeasure. In other words, she was royally ticked and intended to make sure we knew it.

Shortly after Mom passed away, our home life returned to normal. Max’s little attitude disappeared, the bedspread was no longer being violated, and our fur-kid carried on as if nothing had ever happened.

Max was 15 ½ when she died, and it broke our hearts. We didn’t lose a pet…we lost a member of the family. It took a good six months to even entertain the idea of adopting another cat.

When I finally felt ready, I went to our local animal shelter and was chosen by an adorable little black kitten. She’d reach out to me through the cage, wanting so badly to be petted, but she was skittish at the same time. When we got her home, I temporarily called her HissPurr because she’d hiss when I got near her, and then immediately start purring as I began to pet her. I initially considered naming her Zydeco – just because I liked the name – but something about her made me think of this little comic strip iguana named Quincy. It was adorable, totally clueless when it did something wrong and, for whatever reason, I felt like its name would be a good fit for our new little girl. Time proved that she wasn’t nearly as out in left field as that iguana was, but she certainly had her moments.


Quincy was the only cat I’ve ever had that played fetch. She loved for us to throw little things across the room so she could run after them, scoop them up in her mouth, and bring them back so we could start all over again. She’d have played that game endlessly if we’d let her. She also had a particular affinity for pens and pencils. She not only liked them…she stole them. We couldn’t leave any sitting around unattended or they’d disappear. I lost count of the times I caught her on the kitchen counter pawing one out of the pencil holder and, for the longest time, we couldn’t find them after she got tired of whacking them around. We would have sworn they vanished into thin air but, one day, I felt something odd under the area rug in the dining room. I reached underneath and pulled out a pen…then a pencil…then another pen…and so on. I don’t know how many pens and pencils we retrieved from under that rug, but Quincy had apparently been stashing them there for months before we caught on.

Of course, that was just a cat being a cat. But Quincy had her people tendencies, too. Hers came to the forefront most often after we’d been away for a day or two. We always left her with a fresh litter box and plenty of food and water but, when we’d get back, she’d lay into us like there was no tomorrow. And she wasn’t just meowing for attention. She was delivering a loud, thought-out reprimand for our utter lack of compassion and respect. She wasn’t merely upset about being left on her own…she was mad. She always got over it fairly quickly, but there was no mistaking the fact that her feelings had been stepped on, and she was having none of it.

Just like Max, Quincy was 15 ½ when we had to let her go and, once again, our hearts were broken. We had to say goodbye to…not a pet…but another cherished family member.

There was no thought of getting another cat, though, because we already had one. We inherited him when my dad passed away. He just showed up at my folks’ cabin one day and never left. Dad named him Smoke, had him neutered, and thoroughly enjoyed having him around.

After Dad died, the cabin became our weekend getaway, and Smoke was generally there waiting when we came up the drive each Friday evening. He even had a sidekick for a while. Her name was Charlie, and we inherited her from Dad, too. Both were outdoor cats, and we began referring to them as the Cabin Kitties. It took a few months for Smoke and Charlie to trust us enough to come inside for any length of time but, once they realized it was a pretty cozy place to be, they’d both meet us when we arrived on Friday, come inside off and on to hang out with us during the weekend and then watch us leave on Sunday. It became such a routine that, if they weren’t waiting for us when we got there, we’d worry until they showed up.


The weekend eventually came when that worry was validated. Charlie had been limping a little the weekend before and, when we arrived the following Friday, she wasn’t waiting with Smoke. She didn’t show up that weekend, or the weekend after, or the weekend after that. Time went on and it became clear that she’d left us…in some manner or another. On the last weekend we had with her…when she had that little limp…we saw a huge turkey vulture in the road on our way home. Logic tried to tell me that the vulture, or another one like it, had seen her vulnerable condition and taken her. My heart, though, couldn’t bear the thought, so I decided that a kindhearted family saw her limping along the road and gave her a new forever home. No one will ever convince me otherwise.


For a while, Smoke seemed a bit lost without Charlie, but he eventually got used to having us all to himself. As a matter of fact, he’s adjusted quite well to being Lord of the Manor. And when it comes to people traits, his sweetest characteristic is how affectionate he is with my husband and me. We live at the cabin full-time now but, when we were coming down only on the weekends, he couldn’t seem to get enough of us when we’d first arrive. He’d come inside, hop up on one of our laps, and nuzzle in so close it was as though he wanted to get inside our skin. It was obvious he missed us when we weren’t here and needed to convince himself we were real. By the end of the first night, he’d settle down and give us some space, but there was always something both sad and sweet about how he first had to get his fill of us. Now that we’re here all the time, he still likes to be on a lap now and then, but he doesn’t carry on like he used to. That only happens if we go someplace overnight. The difference between Smoke and his predecessor, Quincy, is that he never seems angry with us for leaving him. His demeanor when we get home is more one of relief that his humans didn’t abandon him after all. Once he’s sure we’re back where we belong, all he really wants is food and a comfy place to nap. Oh, and someone to let him outside to go to the bathroom. The little booger still hasn’t quite mastered the litterbox.

Since Smoke was a stray, the best the vet could do was estimate his age when Dad took him in to be neutered. The doc said he was probably about two years old at the time, and that was in 2010. That puts him in the neighborhood of 15 now and, considering the fact that we lost both Max and Quincy around that age, we’re girding our loins for the inevitable. We try not to dwell on it, but the signs are there. Even though he eats well, he’s lost a lot of weight in the past year. He still grooms himself, but not as fastidiously as he used to. And, whether it’s legit or simply selective, it appears he’s deaf as a post. Age is undoubtedly taking its toll on him.


That being said, he’s still our sweet boy. Regardless of the fact that his DNA is animal rather than human, Smoke’s our kid. He plays, he gets underfoot, and he tests our patience…just like any other child. He considers every surface in our home as his own special napping space, and we allow him to take up more than his fair share of the bed when he sleeps with us at night. He has real thoughts and feelings, and he gives back every single ounce of love that we give to him.

In their own unique ways, Max, Quincy, and Charlie were more than just heartbeats. They were very people-y family members. Smoke is no exception.

As far as I’m concerned, cats are just furry little people. And just like Charlie in her new forever home, no one will ever convince me otherwise.

Care to Share?
« Older posts