Jinxed

13 Oct

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe passed the interview with flying colors.

“Why do you want to live with us? What challenges are you looking for? Where do you see yourself in five years?” We asked some tough questions and he had all the right answers, responding to each question with a confident meow.

He was deliciously cute and wonderfully fluffy. When he arched his little back, pounced on five-year-old Elizabeth’s shoes and untied her laces, we decided this playful kitten was perfect for our family. We also decided to start double knotting our shoelaces.

“We’ll take him,” I told the animal shelter worker.

The gray tiger-striped kitten that we named “Jynx” was affectionate and curious and explored every nook and cranny of our house. My kids played with him, cared for him and loved him. Jynx returned their love by guarding oldest daughter Heather’s room at night, providing a wake-up pounce upon Henry in his bed each morning and continuing to untie Elizabeth’s shoe laces whenever possible.

But despite the unconditional love he received, Jynx became restless as an indoor cat. Not satisfied with the confines of our home, he constantly scratched at the door, yearning for a taste of the great outdoors. Beckoned by the call of the wild, Jynx longed to enter our yard where he could be free to scamper after squirrels, frolic near the creek and attend school.

Yes, attend school. From the moment we allowed him access to the outdoors, Jynx accompanied my son to grammar school. Like a four-armed bodyguard, he would amble alongside Henry until they reached the school grounds. Jynx would paw at the big red school door hoping to gain entrance, until the principal would point to the “No pets on school grounds” sign and send him on his way. At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jynx would return to school to escort Henry home.

We worried about Jynx, knowing that by spending time outdoors, he was more vulnerable to dangers such as vicious dogs, threatening raccoons, street traffic, the harsh elements of winter, and even school bullies. But we remembered the adage, “If you love something, set it free,” and prayed for his safety. We worried most when Jynx was gone for days on end, especially since he tended to be naively trustworthy and often sat in the middle of the street, not understanding that he was a dark cat camouflaged against black asphalt.

One Saturday morning, a neighbor called to tell us Jynx was down on Weston Avenue. “He’ll find his way home. He always does,” I said to her. An hour later, I drove down Weston and spied a striped gray cat lying in the middle of the road. “Jynx!” I laid on the breaks. I ran to him but it was too late. I knew my children would be devastated to learn their young cat had been killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Picking him up carefully, I took him home and broke the news. Later that day, I returned to look for Jynx’ identification collar, which had undoubtedly flung off upon impact. I found nothing. Back home, we placed Jynx in a cardboard box and buried him in the backyard in a hole that was 3-feet deep.

We had just begun a memorial service when Henry interrupted. “Just a minute,” he said and disappeared into the house. Thinking he needed time to compose himself, we were surprised when he quickly returned and tossed something into the shallow grave. We heard a small thud.

“There’s Elizabeth’s sneaker, I know it was your favorite,” he said earnestly to Jynx, gazing down at the box. Elizabeth started to open her mouth in protest, but changed her mind. Leaning on our shovels, we rested a moment, each of us reflecting on our short time with Jynx.

“I loved how he took walks with us like a dog,” said Heather.

“I loved him even though he drank out of the toilet,” Henry declared.

“I loved those shoes,” said Elizabeth.

After the service, we went back inside and lit a memorial candle on the mantelpiece.

Later that afternoon, our neighbor popped over and, unaware of our loss, casually mentioned, “Jynx is on my back deck.”

“What?!” we replied in unison. Our eyes immediately traveled to the gravesite, searching for any sign of disturbance, but we saw none. We peered toward our neighbor’s house and observed Jynx trotting over to us. We went wild, hugging and kissing him. He took it all in stride, oblivious to the fact that until that moment, we had been convinced that he had lost one of his nine lives.

“But if this is Jynx, who’s in the …?” Heather inquired, pointing to the grave.

We shrugged and looked at each other in bewilderment.

To this day, we don’t know whose cat lies in our backyard, only that we gave it a proper burial. We memorialized the grave as “The Tomb of the Unknown Cat.”

We confined Jynx to the house after the “incident.” After all, this time we had been witness to one of the fateful dangers of outdoor cat life—cat versus car. But listening to Jynx’ familiar scratching at the door day after day made it clear to us that it wasn’t enough to offer him freedom from a sheltered life. We needed to allow him the freedom to explore life.

So we let him outside again. And although we constantly worry about Jynx and receive phone calls regularly from concerned neighbors, we have the satisfaction of knowing that our cat is contentedly enjoying the best of both worlds. One shoelace at a time.

I’m thrilled that this story is included in NYMB . . .On Cats, which launched Tuesday, October 7, 2014. Books can be purchased through a favorite retailer and are available as print books or Ebooks.

Via Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Not-Your-Mothers-Book-Cats-ebook/dp/B00N6WQ01M

 Via Print book: http://www.amazon.com/Not-Your-Mothers-Book-Cats/dp/1938778189

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56 Responses to “Jinxed”

  1. jotsfromasmallapt October 13, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    There is no “I LIKE THIS MORE THAN ONCE” clicker to click. Why not?

  2. words4jp October 13, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    This has giving me goose bumps and tears. The is precious.

  3. Adventures of a Middle Age Mom October 13, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Love the story, Lisa! And congrats on having it published in such a cool book series!!

  4. I suck as a parent October 13, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    I loved this! I cried, I laughed. I’m so glad there was a happy ending! Congrats on the book, too!

  5. funnysister October 13, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Love it – but on behalf of Jinx….clearly this does NOT count as one of HIS 9 lives!

  6. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer October 13, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    What a delightful story, Lisa. Only you can make the death of a pet sound funny. Congrats on the publishing feat!

  7. Carrie Rubin October 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    What a wonderful story, in a fun, macabre sort of way. 🙂 My mother’s cat constantly wants to go outside, so they let her. Once she got stuck in a tree overnight (the cat, not my mom…), but they got her down. More recently, she was gone for six days. We all assumed she’d died and we were heartbroken. But my mom felt that at least the cat died doing what she loved. And then the cat turned up the next day. She was scrawny and full of sap, but she was okay. They still let her out which surprised me at first, but I understand. It’s the same as you describe with Jynx. Why deprive her of what she loves? Of course, my mom’s cat IS a little more tentative outside now so it appears she learned a lesson!

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 14, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      Your story reminds me of my childhood cat that got stuck in a tree and then my dad got stuck trying to rescue her. I’m glad your mom’s cat learned its lesson!

  8. anotherday2paradise October 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    A wonderful story! I’m so glad that it has a happy ending. 🙂

  9. Paprika Furstenburg October 13, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Great story, Lisa. I was glad there was a happy ending. Did Elizabeth ever get her sneaker back or did you leave it for the other cat to enjoy in the afterlife?

    Congrats on having the story published in NYMB!

  10. Sid Dunnebacke October 13, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Well, you certainly took me on a big emotional roller coaster ride, Lisa. Glad to know your Jynx is alive and well. But did Elizabeth get her sneaker back?

  11. atempleton October 13, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    Wonderful story (This is so sad, I’m thinking in the middle of it.) And a good lesson about how much one can control life and love. Well done. Congratulations on its publication.

  12. Professor Taboo October 14, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Lisa, this great story has many applications in life besides about a loving-life feline none so than our’s too, does it not? As I read I kept thinking of two analogies, (1) neurtering, and (2) changing someone (in this case an animal) into something they are not naturally. Though your story has a wonderful ‘relieving’ end, it caused me to debate once again the expansive meaning of freedom vs. responsibility. I could obviously write a 10,000 word comment on that debate, but I’ll save you & your readers the torture 😉 . Suffice it to say that in freedom vs. responsibility, at least on the human level, the two words MUST COME in equal measure. How easily could Jynx be any human as well? See how your story and subject is wonderfully presented? *chuckling*

  13. IrishReader October 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    I have a small heart attack every time my Benjamin sneaks out the front door! I could not imagine losing him…

  14. Cody-Cat Chat (@CatChatCaren) October 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Oh my I was terrified at first but glad that all ended well. Beautifully written, thanks for finding me on twitter!

  15. Diane Masucci October 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    adorable, Lisa, just adorable!!!! love it. xoxo missing you this week, diane

  16. The Hopeful Herbalist October 15, 2014 at 3:17 am #

    Wonderful story, unfortunately for us it was our cat on the roadside….. Cars and cats, not a good mix 😔

  17. Cathy Bell October 15, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Hysterical, Lisa! Particularly knowing that it’s a true story…omg! lol

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  18. LuAnn October 15, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    What a wonderful story Lisa. I was holding my breath until the end and am glad that this had a happy ending. Congrats on getting published…so well deserved! 🙂

  19. Lou October 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Intriguing story and it all ends in a high Jinx

  20. earthriderjudyberman October 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    What a beautiful story, Lisa. I’m delighted you had such a loving relationship with Jynx. He sounds like a delightful cat.

    We once had a cat like Jynx. Tumbleweed would walk us down to the Stop sign at the corner and then turn around and walk home. She loved to be outdoors, but gave us a few scares when she didn’t come home. Tumbleweed was 17 when she passed.

    • Main Street Musings Blog October 17, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      Thanks, Judy. Love the name Tumbleweed. Fitting for an independent cat. What a remarkably long life she led!

  21. webs672002 October 18, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Oh, i really loved this, Lisa!! And congrats on the NYMB publications! Well deserved!!

  22. LB October 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    Such a great story! I can see all of you, eyes moving to the fresh grave, and wondering “who?”. Did you take Elizabeth’s shoe back out? 🙂

  23. katforhan October 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Awww…what a moving story! I live in an apartment where my cat can go on the balcony but I know she wants to roam around outside and it breaks my heart! I would worry about her sooooo much with all the dangers so you’re brave to let Jynx go outside despite already thinking you lost him once! I’m sure he appreciates it more than you know!

  24. wersojourners October 22, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Aww how heartwarming it’s tough to be a cat parent. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. 🙂

  25. mira65 October 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Disturbing. Remembering my dog.

  26. renemutume October 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Great story. Nice work 🙂
    And thanks for popping by my poem!
    Best,
    R

  27. ginnietom October 26, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    amazing story…dear Lisa…I know what you described, sometimes we had 10 in a bunch and 4 from 1 tribe, everytime a new story…they came and settled…we started as dogs lover – today they live all together…but 8 from the early bunch are gone until now, most in age of 17…
    have a good week…dear author…& thanks stopping by 😉

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