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Jean Shriver

These are tumultuous days and I am following news events closely, but not with much joy. I was about worn out with emotions when my son arrived for a short visit, bringing his new kitten.

He couldn’t locate a feline he liked in his hometown of Santa Barbara, so he drove to Bakersfield one morning. There a woman handed over the little bundle of fur he calls Bonny, but I call “Small.” Because that’s what she is. She is so tiny I lived in deadly fear of stepping on her as she scampered around our kitchen. 

She’s a gray tabby—a pretty little critter. Fred isn’t sure how old she is, maybe six to eight weeks, and ready for action.

Of course compared to a human baby, she’s a genius for her age; eats her kibble, drinks water and uses the litter box without fail. She can cuff a ping pong ball across the tiled kitchen floor, pouncing with glee upon it when she gets it cornered.

Her favorite occupation while here was climbing up my pants leg to reach my lap where she’d settle down with a satisfied purr.

This was great except her sharp little claw kept going through the material and scratching my leg. Three pairs of pants with bloodstains went into the wash today.

While I played with the kitten, the newspaper arrived, as usual bulging with bad news.

It was wonderful to put it down and find “Small” gazing at me with what I choose to call adoration. Her eyes are huge and outlined in black as perfectly as those of a beautiful woman skilled in the art of makeup. She pranced across the paper ignoring the headlines and picking out the bit of string that had banded it.

Oh what a grand time she had with that boring bit of string.

She pounced on it, tossed it, chewed it a bit and ran in circles around it looking almost crazed with excitement. I could have spent hundreds of dollars and not given her as much fun as that circle of plastic string.

It was such a relief from the stress of worrying about the pandemic, worrying about the racial divide and wondering how all this is going to come out.

Suddenly I could concentrate on one tiny bit of happiness.

Pick her up and you can feel her heart beating under those tiny ribs. She doesn’t yowl, just looks at you with trust. It was like having a baby again, even though all my kids are hovering around sixty and I don’t remember them ever being so easy to please.

I don’t remember getting a newspaper when the children were small and maybe that’s one reason those seemed like halcyon years—starting my days without having to face the troubles of the world. 

Well, Fred’s gone home now, taking Bonny with him. 

I miss her, but have gone back to my routine of hunching over the paper while I drink my coffee and worrying about all the issues that will be so hard to solve. But that’s the life I’ve chosen.

Some people don’t get a newspaper, some don’t worry about police issues or pandemics.

Some old women devote themselves to caring for a houseful of cats. But please don’t come to my house offering me a kitty cat of my own.

I loved having Bonny for a visit but am not looking for a pet at this stage in my life.

Worrying about the world is quite enough for me.

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