Two Old Men
By Robert G Smith
This morning started out like most mornings. We always rise at six thirty, a habit of the last forty years. The first order of business is feed our two (brother and sister) twenty year old tabby cats who I rescued from under the seat of a junk truck back when I was in the auto salvage business. Their eyes were still closed when we rescued them. We were what they saw when they opened so they think they’re little people. After that we get dressed and I take the uneaten dry cat food from yesterday and pour it out under the trees out front. It's not much and the birds and squirrels like it.
As I retreat toward the house I can see the shadowy figure of a neighborhood cat cautiously approach the cat food. In the summer the sun has risen by this time and I would have been greeted with a chorus of caws from the local flock of crows who wait for a snack of cat food every morning. He/she had to compete with them but since it is still dark, the crows are out of luck.
This day the dawn is just barely peeking over the eastern horizon. Darkness still envelopes our place on the globe. It’s late October and we have had in an unseasonably warm week. It’s been twenty-eight days since the last rain and that has hastened the hibernation of the grasses and bushes in the area.
As Sol slowly changed the darkness to light I began my two mile morning prayer/walk. The day just doesn’t feel right when I am unable to do that. As I neared my drive on my return, Bumper the brother, standing at the driveway gate, began yowling loudly at me, a common thing with him. I can never decide if he’s greeting me or chewing me out for taking so long.
I grabbed the newspaper and we slowly make our way up the driveway. He always wants to walk right where I’m walking. I put the paper on the table at the side door and we continued to mosey along the ornamental garden that borders our two and one half acres.
We made our way to the back of the property, around my workshop and back toward the house. He would stop every ten to twenty feet and stand and look all around while I waited for him to catch up. We finally reached the back yard again. There is a grove of sand live oak and southern pine trees between the back yard and my workshop. The area doesn’t ever get enough sun to grow grass so I filled it with Azalea bushes. I have a park bench there facing the back of the house.
I sat down to watch the birds fly to and fro the two feeders in the yard and the squirrels working the ground under the feeders.
Bumper positioned himself between my feet and slowly sat down. He has arthritis in both back legs. We’re both getting old. I reached down to stroke his head and he looked up and pushed into my fingers, his motor running. We sat there this morning enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. He finally laid down for a catnap. As I continued to sit there I knew there would not be many more days of these two old men enjoying each other’s companionship.
Bumper went to wait for me at the rainbow bridge seven weeks after I wrote this. The vet determined his liver was failing. It was hard, but he was in pain and wasn't eating.