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Another friend gonePosted Saturday, September 18, 2010, at 5:57 AM
Tybalt plays a board game with my daughter, as my yellow cat Louie watches from the safety of the coffee table.
Tybalt and the yellow cat Louie came to live with my daughter and me in 1997, the year my husband died. The house was a sad place. My youngest son had just started college and was home only on weekends. My daughter was a freshman in high school, beginning a time of proms and boys.
"Mom, can we get a cat?" she asked for the hundredth time in her life. Her dad would never have tolerated it, but I looked around at a house where there was no longer any laughter, where no one wanted to stay anymore.
"Yes," I said, and we went out to find two cats. From a neighbor we found Tybalt, jet black and sleek, with yellow eyes. He followed us around the shed, meowing and rubbing against our legs, as we tried to corner his black and white sister, our first choice. We went back twice to catch the shy girl kitten, who scratched my daughter and jumped out the car window. Only then did we look down at Tybalt, who was practically begging, "Take me! Take me!"
Throughout the years of raising border collie puppies, I should have known that you let your pet pick you. He'll do a much better job than you ever could. So Tybalt, the Prince of Cats, came home to live with us, and he was my constant companion for the next 13 years, furnishing me with endless stories for my newspaper columns, blogs and stories, sitting on my lap during the long, cold winter months, playing with his toy mice on the living room floor, and occasionally bringing up a REAL mouse from the basement to put it in the downstairs shower stall, where it met with a quick death.
He was a thief extraordinaire -- a skilled cat burglar. There was the time that Kristin was leaving for college, after spending the weekend at home, and she couldn't find her car keys. (See "My Life with a Cat Burglar" in the archives) Tybalt obviously stole them from the end table in the living room and carried them downstairs to the basement floor. He echoed my sentiments exactly, as I, too, did not want her to leave!
Another time, he stole the rubber stopper from my upstairs bathtub, carrying it down to his "lair" under the end table by the front door. Whenever anything was missing, we looked down into those sweet, innocent yellow eyes and thought, "Mmmm....could Tybalt have taken it???" and we checked his hiding place.
My son, who was originally aghast at our bringing CATS into the house, found himself won over by Tybalt's antics -- his habit of sharpening his imaginary claws on our shoelaces, his ability to jump for toys, his curiosity and playfulness. When my grandson came along, Tybalt sat with his paws tucked under his body, watching the little boy play cars on the floor. Occasionally, he would join in. He never offered to scratch or bite.
My Prince of Cats, named after a character in Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet," has been with me through two devastating ice storms (February 2008 and January 2009), when I had no power, and we had to huddle in the living room in front of the fireplace. (see "Ice Bound" in archives for Feb 12, 08.) He and Louie spent several long, cold nights on the couch with me, under a heap of blankets, trying to stay warm, as the trees crashed around us. I never felt alone with Tybalt by my side...and on my lap.
I can only hope that my little friend is still out there in the Tillman woods somewhere and will find his way back home to those who love him someday soon. I miss you, little buddy!
From the dark hills of Tillman, this is your not-so-roving reporter Madeline, signing off on another beautiful summer day.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.