Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My first very own pet

During one 18 month stretch in the middle of the 1980s, I got married, had a baby, bought a house, held several different jobs and started school. To bring balance into all of that, my husband of the time suggested that we get a cat. Of course, thus began my life as the cat lady. (Oh, it only seems that way, but someday I will write a story about the Pride of Road Lake.)

Daniel had heard of a cat rescue center on the north side of Denver. This neighborhood had once been home to middle class families consisting of a working dad, stay-at-home mom, 2.3 children, and 1.7 pets. The day we visited this neighborhood however, all of those families had moved out to the up and coming suburbs, leaving behind fenced yards full of weeds and homes with peeling paint and cracked windows.

The particular residence we went into looked more like a crack-house than a place any self-respecting stray cat would find itself. The woman who ran the place explained her mission, but I don’t remember a thing she said. I was just thinking, “They need to invent a hand sanitizer in a spray pump”.

The woman guided us down a set of wooden stairs to a dank dimly lit basement. Lined up along the walls and stacked three or four high were wire cages each holding a meowing feline. She directed us to the kittens who had their own section under a boarded up window.

I don’t know how we ever picked one. I think Daniel asked, “How about that black one?” And I nodded, just wanting to get out of there.

We loaded the little waif into a box, signed some papers and headed to the car, surprised that it had not been stolen. A few days later we took the all black kitten to the vet for a checkup, and miraculously she turned out to be totally healthy.

My mother-in-law gave her her name. Keshia. I don’t know where that came from. Except that the Bill Cosby show was popular at the time and Keshia Knight Pulliam played the youngest daughter Rudy. And the cat was small and black, too.

She let me stay in her life for 19 years.

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