Once upon a time in the long ago ’80’s, there was a grand white cat we named Bush. I first laid eyes on him when he was a kitten just finding his legs, a tiny white bush, one green eye and one blue eye. My wife, Pat, gave five dollars for him at a Birmingham store and brought him home in a box. He grew.
Pat brought other cats home, different colored ones, none of them white. Bush took care of them like a mother. They all died or ran away. Bush stayed. And grew.
Bush let Stacey, Laura, and Molly do anything they wanted with him. They dropped him on his head. They dropped him on his back. They sat on him and held him upside down. They pinched him and stepped on his feet. He stretched out on the floor and let them rub his tummy. He kept growing.
We had mice when Bush came. Then we had no mice. He brought home birds and moles and chipmunks, laid them at the foot of our French doors in the back facing the side of the mountain where we lived. Pat scolded him for killing birds and small animals. He never ate them, just left them for us to see. His trophies. How the world he snuck up on any creature was beyond me. He was all and completely white in a sea of mountain green. He stood out lying motionless in the grass and weeds. Stalking.
One day Pat called me to the backyard. She and the girls were laughing. Bush was standing on our shoulder high brick wall holding his head regally high and his tail straight out. He was a cat version of a bird dog, gently holding an uninjured chipmunk in his mouth, Bush motionless in front of a Chipmunk Crossing metal sign that I had planted in the grass months ago.
“Don’t let Bush move,” I yelled. I bolted inside and grabbed a camera that I kept loaded with film for candid photographs of my 3 beautiful, athletic daughters and a chipmunk in Bush’s mouth next to a Chipmunk Crossing sign. I imagined my photo appearing in Life Magazine and winning first prize in a worldwide contest. I was going to be famous. I was.
I stepped back into the sunshine, raised the camera ready to snap a classic. Bush was still standing on the wall, large and majestic as always, one green eye and one blue eye. The chipmunk was gone.
“Bush let him go,” Pat said, giggling. The girls were jumping up and down, laughing.
You just can’t lay plans for becoming famous.