I heard my daughter’s van pull into the driveway and hurried to the back door to greet my grandchildren. For over a year Niki and her family and I had suspended our Tuesday evening family meals because of COVID. Now, with there being fewer cases and more people vaccinated, we resumed our weekly get togethers.
The grandchildren quickly hopped out of the vehicles side door and joined me at the back door for hugs. Jacob, the third youngest, blurted, “Grandma! There’s a turkey next to your house!”
Nodding, I acknowledged, “I’ve been seeing that bird around the yard for the past week or two. It’s always by itself. I keep wondering why it’s not with a flock.”
Opening the back doors of the van, Niki said, “I brought the tomato and pepper plants I started for you.” I took one of the seed-starter flats and looked at the slender stems topped with small green leaves. The baby plants swayed in the breeze, their small leaves quivering. “They’re perfect.” I announced.
Blaise, my youngest grandson requested, “I want to see your new kittens.”
“Come into the house, then.” I invited. We found my old cat, Louie, in the entryway. Sadie and Jerry, the bonded one-year-olds I’d recently adopted, shyly peeked out at us from the basement doorway. Gemma, my youngest granddaughter exclaimed, “Your cats all look alike!”
I laughed, “You’re right. They do; they’re copycats. But I didn’t do that on purpose! Their white coats with black caps and black tails, are like a special breed called Turkish Van. Until you get used to them, it takes more than a quick glance to know who’s who.”
Niki asked, “How’s Louie doing with the new comers?”
Giving the old cat a fond glance, I proudly reported, “Surprisingly well. He’s such an old dear. The other day I had him and the two young ones on my lap all at the same time. Louie even groomed Sadie.”
The younger children remembered the river nearby and wanted go there to catch crawdads. They found the toys hidden behind my sofa and recalled grandma’s picnic hamper/candy basket in the kitchen. They lined up to select treats from it when it was time to go home. My sister Agnes joined us on Tuesday nights again, too. The children line up to hug her hello and goodbye like they do for me.
On the following Tuesday, when Niki and the children came for our get together, I asked, “Do you remember the turkey you saw in my yard last week? I found seven large eggs on a grassy mound in the sumac grove. I don’t know where the mother is, though. I haven’t seen the turkey for several days.” The children wanted to go look at the nest but were content to toast marshmallows over a fire and play Frisbee.
Before my grandchildren visited the next week, two sad things happened. First, I realized the mother turkey was missing and the abandoned eggs would never hatch. Then later in the week I noticed Louie wasn’t well. When he came into the house at bedtime, he went straight to the basement without a look at his food dish. The next afternoon he died in his sleep. I buried him in my raspberry patch.
My pet’s sudden death stunned me. He never acted sick, but in the past year had had a severe ear infection. This spring Louie lost weight because he stopped eating his cat food. I thought that was because there was something wrong with the kitty kibble. News reports announced the brand was recalled because of salmonella. I washed out his food dish and threw out his crunchy food and bought cans of soft cat food to entice his appetite. For a while he did seem to enjoy eating again.
When Sadie and Jerry, the copycats play I feel less sad. They love cuddles, falling asleep in my lap, and checking out anything I happen to be eating. I’m so glad I adopted them and that they go to know Louie for a few short weeks.
Life goes on. Every Tuesday afternoon I look forward to seeing my daughter’s van pull into the driveway. My grandchildren make memories each time they see Agnes, play in Grandma’s back yard, and eat supper with the family.