Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Uncle Rufus The Cat.

I knew that would get your attention.

My Uncle Rufus was a stout little fellow. I guess you could say he had a Napoleonic complex. 

Actually, he and my aunt were my mom’s aunt and uncle.

Rufus always loved a good fight, and he always carried a knife. Rufus was also an alcoholic, so, he would get really drunk, then get into a fight, then the knives would come out, then he’d go to the hospital to get stitched up and/or otherwise repaired. He’d come home, clean himself up for a while, promise to never drink and/or fight again. It would last for a few weeks, then he’d be back to his regular routine.

He worked in a foundry, so he made good money. He always made sure that his wife and pretty much had everything they ever wanted. 

So, new we’re around to the subject of how my Uncle Rufus became a cat.

As I said, Rufus loved his liquor, and he loved to fight. Over the years he’d lost an eye, and someone chawed off part of one ear. He was fairly well scarred up by the time he died. There were lots of folks at Rufus’ funeral. Some of them were scarred up old men. I wondered if they were some of the men he’d exercised his pugilistic, knife wielding tendencies upon over the decades.

There’s a grand old tradition in the South when it comes to funerals. Actually, there are many funerary traditions Down There but, today, we’re only concerned with one. The one where, after the funeral, everyone gathers at the house of the widow/widower for a huge meal, making sure the dishes are done before everyone leaves, and carrying on quite grandiloquently about the recently departed, always looking around to see if children’s ears are too nearby during certain orations.

And so it was that we all went home with my mom's aunt. As we’re walking through the doorway a cat runs in, jumps up into my Uncle Rufus’ favorite chair, and turns to us.

This was, obviously not someone’s pampered house kitty. This was one mangy looking ball of fur. As it sat looking at us, we began to notice things. What hair it still had was streaked dark and light gray. The cat was missing one eye, along with part of one ear. It was quite scarred up about its face and body, and as we approached it, we quickly deduced that it had quite a nasty disposition. And she spoke.

“Well, I’ll be damned, it’s Rufus.”

Rufus lived with mom's aunt for many years. That cat never did become real approachable. Occasionally, he would escape from the house when someone held a door open just a bit too long. Rufus would disappear for a few days, then he’d show back up on the front porch, with a few new scars to add to his growing collection of battle trophies won or lost.

When Rufus the cat finally died he was buried him beneath an old oak tree that my Uncle Rufus and she always liked to sit under. She took a brick and carved RUFUS on it and placed it on his grave. 

Mom’s family never spoke well of the human Rufus, even after he was gone. They never spoke well of the cat Rufus either, at least while he was alive. But after Rufus the cat died, the stories of both got to be a little more lighthearted, and everyone started to laugh and smile whenever they reminisced about both of them.

And I think that, somewhere, both Rufuses are smiling too.


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