Aristotle (special family member)
T-bone steak, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, and a big side salad: my standard menu for Friday night’s dinner. It’s been the same for over seven years. Personally, the salad isn’t all that bad, but you can keep the potatoes and green beans: I don’t think much of carrots either. However, for me, the star of the show is that big juicy T-bone.
If you didn’t know any better you might think that I’m incarcerated, or in some sort of medical facility for the infirmed. You know—a place where your menu is set by the day of the week. It’s a feeding schedule that for the most part sucks, except for that one meal where the people in charge try to make up for all the indignities you suffer on a daily basis. They want you to think that they really do care, even though to them, you’re just a paycheck. Well, nothing could be further from the truth regarding me.
I'm exactly where I should be, and in spite of everything that has happened, I wouldn’t want to be any place else. The fact that I even know what a T-bone steak is—proves my point. Why? Because unlike you, or anyone else who happens to read this, I’m a cat. The exact terminology sounds something like: a domestic short hair, male. And before I was a cat, I was a kitten, which is where my story begins.
I was only about three weeks old, maybe four. I was out playing with my brother and two sisters when our mother called us home. We all knew better than to disobey when Mother called, so we never did, and we always ran as fast as we could. Mother didn’t like to wait. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, and I fell into a hole. It was a really deep hole, deep enough that a little kitten like me couldn’t get out. I tried, I cried, I did everything I knew to do, but I was trapped.
At first, my only fear was the trouble I was going to be in when Mother came to get me. But as time passed my fear become something different, and then, it became all too real. Nobody came to help me, not my mother, not my brother, and not even my dumb sisters. I cried and cried, and then I cried some more.
That was during the hot day. With night falling, I had a whole new set of problems. I was thirsty, I was hungry, and I was getting very cold. Also, I was alone, scared, exhausted, and just when it couldn’t get any worse, it started to rain. I was stuck in a hole with no way out, and the water was beginning to rise. At least I wasn’t thirsty anymore, but as the water got deeper, I learned a very important lesson. Too much of a good thing isn’t always good. My situation was in fact, very bad, and I couldn’t imagine how it could get any worse, but just then, it did.
It was one of those big creatures. I’ve seen many like it from afar, but Mother always made sure that they never got too close. I don’t know how he found me especially when no one else could, but he did, and I was terrified. I thought the end had come, but by then, I was thoroughly exhausted and had nothing left to fight with. So I did the only thing I could, I closed my eyes and waited for it, whatever it happened to be.
The next thing I knew, I’m in a warm place called home. I was still damp but not wet, and more importantly, not cold. The big creature kept making a noise. Over the years I’ve become very familiar with it, and it sounds like this: Are you hungry? Are you hungry? Remember, at the time I was a little kitten, so I had no idea what that meant, but as young as I was, I sure do remember that smell.
The big guy (as I now refer to him) took something over to the table, and whatever that thing was, it sure smelled good. Then he turned and came for me. I looked around but there was no place to run, so I tried to make myself extremely small. I figured that if I got small enough, maybe he wouldn’t see me. It didn’t work. He grabbed me and took me over to the table as well.
There I was, face to face with that thing that smelled so good and the big guy was there too. He was holding a knife in one hand and a fork in the other, and he looked as hungry as me, maybe hungrier. Needless to say, I was really confused and—oh yeah, scared. I didn’t know who he was going to eat first, me or that other thing. I didn’t know what to do, so . . . I waited for it, whatever it happened to be.
But instead of coming for me, the big guy started to cut into the thing on his plate. After a moment, there I was sitting on the table with delicious goodness cut into tiny bite sized pieces just right for a little kitten like me. Something told me to be careful, but something else told me to get some while the getting was good. So I did. I reached out and got a piece off of the napkin he placed in front of me. I pulled it close enough to eat but never once took my eyes off the big guy. He started to laugh; turns out he does that a lot. It’s a good thing for the big creatures and not bad for me either. I ate the first piece while the big guy was distracted with his laugh. I ate a second and third too. While still laughing, he cut some more for me and then, he cut some for himself.
Now don’t get me wrong, as time went on I didn’t get to eat all my meals sitting at the table. I had my food and water bowls on the floor, but once a week . . . T-bone. How many cats even know what a T-bone is? No, in retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. Mom, you should be proud, your son did well.
Long story short, here I am seven and a half years later. I’m dying of kidney failure and my time is very near. No, it isn’t the big guy’s fault, it just is. For seven years I’ve lived a very good life but the last six months have been progressively worse. I now ache all over. I’m always thirsty, always cold, and I’m never hungry. He has tried, but I can’t even eat steak anymore. The time has come, and so this morning we sat out on the patio and had a long talk. It was the first time in my life I ever saw the big guy cry. He talked when he could. I listened and felt the warmth of his love for me as I shivered in his arms. This will be my last day ever, and when the decision was made, I looked the big guy in the eye and said, thank you.
Now before you go getting all emotional and feeling sorry for me remember something. Yes, my life is on the short side, but it’s been a marvelous run. Don’t feel sad: rejoice in the fact that I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything else. And remember, I know the meaning of the words, are you hungry? It means a T-bone at the table. It means a safe and loving place to live.
And for the last seven and a half years, it meant home.
But no words can express my love and gratitude for the big guy or how much I will miss him. Let's just say that I know he will miss me just as much and that will do just fine.
Thank you—Big Guy.
Aristotle, the cat.
P.S. I also know what ribeye and filet mignon is !-)