Posts Tagged ‘black kitten’

This came to me today. I haven’t thought about it in a long, long, time. I am posting it especially for my nephew, Mike, who wants to hear stories about his mom. This is a classic Deni story.

Of course, it starts out and ends with me: our memories are like that – centered around us. But if Deni had not done what she did naturally – and on that November day, in particular – then Buddie Jacopo would never have been.

The day was November 2nd, 1972. My fifteenth birthday. I rode to school with my brother in his old pink Willys Jeep. (Yes, pink!) He ditched me as soon as the Jeep was parked, but my best friend, Janet, met me outside of school. We found a tiny black kitten with amber eyes. He was so beautiful and so friendly: I almost put him inside my brother’s Jeep so I could sneak him home and beg to keep him.

But I didn’t. I went to school, instead, and hoped the kitty would be out in the same area when I had to walk home after school. He wasn’t.

Five blocks away, the middle school was busy. In those days, my mother worked as a secretary for an engineering firm that had an office adjacent to the middle school play ground. We were taught from an early age that when Mom was at work, we were *not* to bother her. No phone calls, no drop ins, nothing: we were to behave as though we did not know where she worked.

Ely middle school toughs hauled a kitten to the playground: a black kitty with amber eyes that was friendly and wanted only to be picked up and loved. They began to torment the cat with intent to torture it.

One thing you never did in front of my sister was be mean to a living creature. She couldn’t stand someone who picked the wings off of flies. Don’t begin to ask about tormenting kittens.

The kitty was carried to my mom’s office, where my sister begged my mom to take it home: “I want to give it to Jaci for her birthday. PLEEEASE…”

Can you imagine my surprise and joy when my mom brought the kitten home? THE KITTEN. The same one I almost put into the Jeep!

Can you imagine the sorrow and loss I felt when my dad put his foot down and said, “NO MORE CATS.” We already had one: a black cat named Speck-o’s that my brother hid in the garage for a week before our father discovered we had adopted a kitten.

My own beloved Jasper Cat died the summer before, cut in half by an ore train. I was in Reno when it happened and my sister helped my brother bury Jassy.

I cried alligator tears and stood outside in the bitter November chill, refusing to come back inside unless the lucky little black kitten was welcomed to come in, too. I threatened to spend the night outside, crying bitter tears.

I was truly Sarah Bernhardt. It was an act worthy of an Oscar.

The cat was allowed. I named him Buddie. My other best friend, Lisa, suggested I name him Jacopo (whether after the Italian poet, composer, or artist I no longer recall).

In a postscript: when I left for college and left BJ behind, he adopted my dad. Dad, the Grouch who did not want the cat in the first place, taught BJ how to beg for treats and to sit up like a dog. It amused my father greatly. I think BJ was his last favorite pet.

I was so grateful to my little sister for her act of bravery in the face of middle school hazing (she was the new kid on campus) and for her sacrifice (“I want to give the kitty to Jaci for her birthday” when she really wanted him for herself). It was something Deni would do. She had a big heart.

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