At that time, I had a boyfriend named Mike and I can no longer remember whose idea it was – his or mine – to bring home the cat. Looking back through the fog of nostalgia, I’d guess it was Mike’s. Mike was the kind of boyfriend who appreciated classic romantic gestures. He wanted me to wear his shaker-knit sweaters, and he wrote poems and played his guitar for me. I wanted a cat and, arguably, providing one could be viewed as the ultimate in romantic gestures.
Somehow, it was decided. The next thing I can really remember is making our way to an address on Ossington Avenue, in answer to a newspaper ad for free kittens. I was terrified. The Ossington Avenue of the mid-90s wasn’t exactly the cool neighbourhood it is today.
Mike also had a pair of calico cats, Scratch and Win, that I thought very pretty. Therefore, the ad we were responding to was an ad for calico kittens.
Finally, we found the place, knocked on the door and hearts (just mine, probably) pounding, waited. An elderly lady appeared.
“There’s one left. Give me the box and wait right here.”
We handed over the box and she disappeared as we continued to stand on the street, mouths agape. This was not how I’d imagined this going down. So much for the notion of “letting the cat chose you” that you always hear about. Soon enough, she presented us with the cat-filled box and we were on our way.
I made it almost all the way home – onto the 23 Dawes Road bus, waiting for it to leave Main Station, in fact – before I dared to peek at the kitten I’d decided to bring home without the knowledge of my parents. I cracked the box open and peered in to behold the exact opposite of a calico: a gray tabby cat. Duped by a white-haired old lady!
Disappointment washed over me but rode out as quickly as it came in. I regarded the white-rimmed green eyes locked with mine. We would be friends.
That was 1994.
Poco found his way on January 2.
I thought for a long time about what to say about this, as long as it took the old man to prepare himself to leave. After all that time and all that thinking, I still don’t know how to go at it.
For one thing, he was a sadistic killer of mice and millipedes.
This wasn’t a cat who threw his love around. He liked exactly four humans: myself, my parents and Lisa. It’s tough, even for a cat, not to fall under the spell of her sing-song voice. To be stingy with love though, meant more for us. As a kitten, he did not leave my mother’s side while she recovered from heart surgery. Every day he ran to the door to meet me when I got home from work. He always looked after me.
We were together just a few months short of 18 years. He accompanied me through all of the events, big and little, that have made me the adult I am today. He was a very good friend and the void he leaves behind, incredibly large and dark.