Marking the sad passing of a very angry and apathetic cat…
He was a mean, yellow stray who terrorized Grandma's three other cats, Bear, Annie, and Two-Bits and managed to win her over simply by eating the food she set out for him every night.
She named him Anthony after the patron saint of lost things.
I loved the other cats and I spent most of the summer before I started high school trying to win his affection, or at least come to some kind of understanding with him. I'm lucky I still have any skin left on my forearms.
Anthony hated everything and everyone. He routinely kicked Bear's ass and made inappropriate moves on Annie. He'd rub up against your leg as if to make nice, and then savagely sink his teeth into your ankle, cling to your sock with his front claws and scratch mercilessly and repeatedly with his hind legs.
He outlived the rest of the cats (even Two-Bits who could hold her own in any throw-down), thereby further endearing himself to Grandma as the cat who was decent enough to still be alive when she needed company.
Toward the end of his life he'd mainly glare at everything with vague threats. He lived on the screened porch, and if I ever visited with Gertrude I'd warn her to keep her fingers away from the holes.
Well apparently, despite my warnings and despite never actually being allowed to have physical contact with the cat, Gert grew to share Grandma's brand of appreciation for Anthony.
"Mom, guess what!" she told me yesterday. "Great-grandma's cat is gone!"
"Yes, I know," I said sadly. "He was old and he died. We miss him, don't we?"
Gert then spoke to me as if she were addressing a small child. "Mom. Anthony did not die. He had to go to up heaven."
"Oh!" I said. "That's right." But I still felt the need to soften the religious programming since we are not a Sunday School family. "When kitties get old and die, then they get to go to heaven."
Gary leaned over to me and muttered something about Baby Jesus needing a cat and choosing Anthony to come and live with him.
"Anthony would eat Baby Jesus," I said.
"WHAT?" said Gert.
"Wings!" I blurted. "Now he can fly around up in heaven! With the angels! And God! Because Jesus loves all the little children and cats."
Later I heard Gert relay the news to her sister: "Guess what? Anthony's dead."