The Big Things

I was a single mom during most of my kids’ childhoods. They were my life. But I felt like a loser anyway because I never dated, and had never owned a house.

I’d graduated from college but always worked as a secretary. My kids and I lived in overpriced rentals in Orange County, California. My kids were the apartment kids while their friends lived in nice houses with both parents.

I sometimes borrowed from my sister to pay dance studio bills.

On Christmases, when we three looked at our shiny tree, my outlook was hard to shake: I couldn’t be really happy with the little things because I never had the big things.

Now the kids are in their thirties. I’m still alone, and renting, but I have four cats. I’ve had cats before but this is different.

Three of them made their presence known a couple of months after the pandemic hit in March, 2020. A trio of kitten faces peeked at me one May day from behind the backyard shed; two black males and one black and white female.  I tried calling rescue organizations, but nobody would help. In time, I took them in. My senior cat, predictably unpredictable, permitted the apostasy.

Our lives merged. And our routines set. They watch me, especially the boys with their moon eyes.

They snake around my legs when I’m in the kitchen. They press close to me when the evenings are quiet.

I admire their beauty and mystery, and the way they collectively embrace the house with something invisible. As siblings, they read each other, and that connection is a new joy to me. When my senior Calico girl, Suki, deigns to come near, and eat and groom and lounge on the periphery, we are complete.

Last Christmas, with my granddaughter, we admired our shiny, but humble tree. At their usual posts were Suki, Chocolate Chip, Panther and Percy.

The cats have taught me this, and just in time: I always had the big things.


Photography Credit: Jason Rice, detail