Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Calcifer Steps Up

Calcifer, despite having been fixed today (and oh, wasn't THAT an adventure!), has decided to take over the Shmoo's duties and become the Impertinent Daughter's nightly guardian.

The Shmoo was a black cat with bright green eyes that we had for ten years. He was a sibling to Sir Edmund, and was one of the original Triplicats. Sir Edmund, Mischief Herself, and... the Shmoo. Now... the Shmoo fit his name. He could fit himself into any place or situation, and unlike his quieter siblings, for all that he was pitch black, he had a very Siamese attitude. Very talkative. Very clingy. And probably one of the most hilarious cats we'd ever had. We used to call him the Door Bandit, because at our old house in Houston, he loved to perch on top of our doors, and wait for the unwary to pass by. Any victim who approached would either lose their hat or their hairstyle.

He also had a ridiculous love of turning on lights.

I could practically hear him when he'd leap up to grasp the cord that hung from the lightswitch in the little room off our kitchen that led into the backyard. The light would come on and I could swear he was cackling, "Ha ha!! The power is MINE!! I CAN TURN ON THE LIGHTS!!!"

Yes, he was a goofball.

But, he was also incredibly sweet.

The Impertinent Daughter does not like loud noises. Never has. She hated fireworks until we decided to bring our Labrador Retriever along to the city fireworks show, and they sat together, watching the fireworks, she with her arms around him, he standing between her and the bright lights. She wasn't so scared any more... but she still didn't like the big booms. And when we got home, well, at the time, we were living out in the country, out of the city limits, and therefore, in a place where folks could set off as many bottle rockets, etc, as they liked, for as long as they liked. Provided the county wasn't under a burn ban. She hated the noise, and either the Husbandly One or I would have to lie in bed with her, our hands over her ears, until she went to sleep. Shmoo watched this for a couple of years. Then, when she was four, going on five, just before the Impossible Son made his appearance, Shmoo watched her crying during a particularly loud and boisterous New Year's celebration. I was very, very big, being overdue (Mr. Manzie was really comfortable in there, and saw no reason to change the status quo) and therefore, very slow.  The Husbandly One was trying to do seven things at once.  The Shmoo made up his mind and jumped up into the bed with her, walked up to her pillow, then settled himself so that he was laying across her head, covering her ear.  He laid his tail across her neck, under her chin, and began to purr.  She opened her mouth to protest, then closed it.  She couldn't hear the loud bangs, and snaps, and rat-tat-tat-tat-tat of fireworks any more.  All she could hear was a deep, rumbling, happy purr, and the next thing I knew, she was asleep.  He did the same thing with thunderstorms, wrapping himself around her head and purring until she went to sleep.  Soon, he was jumping up in the bed when she had bad dreams, and then, he had the other cats joining in, as well as Max.  It wasn't unusual to wake up and find her curled comfortably between a large dog, and three cats.  

It was a real blow five years later when he disappeared because someone left a door open, and he got out.

He never came back.

We had lost Mischief to cancer the previous year, and I sometimes wonder if he went out looking for her.

Ed did what he could, but he had to divide himself between two children and two adults.  Not easy, even for a big, loving cat like Ed.  And... it wasn't the same.  Miss Priss and the Shmoo had a very special bond.  He was her Trouble Cat.

So, she's had trouble sleeping since Shmoo disappeared.  Stuffed animals are just not the same.  Nor are little brothers (too squirmy).  We talk before bed, and that seemed to be helping, but... I'm not Shmoo.  And sometimes, what a kid needs is someone who will listen without offering advice, who will stare up at them sympathetically and lovingly, while purring like a Cuisinart on steroids.  I can purr but... it ain't the same!

Tonight, I was tucking her in, kissing her, and doing our usual good night ritual, when Calcifer jumped up on the bed, stared intently into her eyes, then got up on her pillow and curled around her head in the exact same way Shmoo used to.  With the added exception that he gripped her head between his paws, and licked her forehead a couple of times before settling himself comfortably, and purring.  Her face relaxed, and she just barely managed to say, "Night, Mom," before she was out like a little light.

This after having his equipment rendered redundant.

I scratched his head, turned out the light, and said, "Take care of your girl, Cal."

He just purred.

I think they're going to be okay.

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