Fleda’s Blog

My Wobbly Bicycle, 160

Posted by on Nov 28, 2018 in Featured | 11 comments

On the seat in front of me on the plane, a young woman is splaying her fingers to admire again her long pointed nails, sparkly blue claws. We should have trimmed Wally’s claws before we left, I think. When we rolled our bags out the door at six in the morning, he was sitting perfectly still, forlorn, I might imagine, eyes large, knowing it was useless to try to follow. This had happened before, he knew, all to no good.


Travel is like a dream. You see where you are, but you are also back there, where you left. You travel through the years, too, but you are also back there, in that body that seems like this one, but you know it used to be a lot more agile. We are on our way to D.C. to spend Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren. It is a hard journey for Jerry, who walks very slowly, with a cane. He needs a wheelchair for distance. I’m nervous because we have a short connection-time in Chicago. If the wheelchair arrives late, we’ll miss our flight.


Back to Wally: I was beginning cancer treatment when we got him. He’s comforted both of us during the last six years.  He came to us, the most gorgeous stray you could ever imagine, huge, obviously with Maine Coon blood in him, long white and gray fur, a ruff at his neck. Well, he wasn’t huge when we got him. He wore the evidence of his sojourn, however long it was, in the wilderness, fighting to survive. When he was taken in, he weighed half his normal weight and for several days had been reaching for the doorknob at the Civic Center, in the dead of winter. He was offered to us on a trial basis, which lasted until the second he emerged from his carrying case.


Our Wally has a crooked smile because we had one of his large canine teeth extracted. It was broken and we imagined it caused him pain. Who knows? He’s probably an old guy. He’s a bit un-cat-like, the opposite of aloof. He follows us everywhere, rolls over to have his stomach rubbed. He costs us money. We hire a cat-sitter when we travel. He would be devastated if we boarded him, we speculate.




But who knows? There are cat-signals: tail in the air for happy, tail tucked under for unhappy or scared, but beyond that is guesswork. How old does Wally think he is? Whatever, he’s been good for Jerry. When Jerry’s been in pain, he’s had his living lap-rug. Whatever door Jerry closes, Wally stands outside it and waits for his dear one to emerge. In the mornings, when Jerry’s reading the Times online, Wally perches precariously on on the narrow ridge at the back of his desk chair to keep in touch. And he helps him do his exercises. 


He is our house-spirit. Cat-spirit is not like dog-spirit. It’s silent, for the most part. It gently animates the surroundings; it reminds us that the universe is alive, beyond us, but it does this by sleeping most of the time. Cat-spirit-sleeping is a visual of peace in the valley, a sign that there is no point making a fuss over things you can’t fix. That the warmest place to be is near another spirit, or on top of it, getting your ears rubbed. Cat spirit knows it is worthy of being rubbed, and is content to collect its due.


Spirits arrive unbidden, always, it seems, from somewhere out in the cold, and make glad our temporary lives. We can’t create them, but we can take care of them, as long as they can stay. Wow, I guess that sounds like a Christmas story.