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Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Aunt And The Cathouse

My aunt A. is a catnapper. I don't mean that she likes to take those brief naps and then spring awake, refreshed and ready to take on the world. Nope. I am not sure that she does this any more as I haven't had contact with her in a number of years, and she is getting older, but for a good number of years she would acquire any cat or dog that she thought looked homeless. If she was driving to the supermarket and saw a dog or cat sitting in a front yard, she would lure it into her car and take it home. I imagine that there were dozens of kids who came home from school expecting to see their pet waiting to greet them on the front porch, only to never see Fluffy or Fido ever again. Some are probably still in therapy. I do not mean this as a joke; losing a pet is very traumatic.

A. would try to distribute these lovely critters among family members after having taken them to a veterinarian for spaying or neutering. Since she lives on over one hundred acres of land in Northern Colorado, she does have room for these pets. The last I knew, she had a couple of small, house-like buildings with central heat and windows to house her dogs and cats. When I was old enough to be ineligible for punishment from her, and therefore more brave than I was as a child, I used to refer to her as the aunt who ran a cathouse. I still giggle thinking about it.

My Aunt A. was always a woman who set her mind to something and pursued it wholeheartedly. At one point she entered a Victorian dollhouse phase. She assembled one and set about furnishing it. She was artistically gifted; she had belonged to a local artists' group before she moved out to the country, and won several awards for her paintings. So I am sure that the dollhouse would have been beautifully completed and furnished. One holiday, when we were gathered celebrating at her house, she began talking about a little shop that she had found which carried absolutely beautiful dollhouse furniture, and how she wanted to go there again. She had attempted to locate it more that once, but never saw it again. "It must have gone out of business just after I went there," she said.

We all felt bad for her. "Do you remember the name of the shop?" She did not. "Well, where was it? I could try to find it when I drive home from work downtown," I offered. "Oh, that would be so nice! It was at the corner of 38th and Colfax." The entire family looked at each other, stunned and disbelieving. "Did we hear you right? Did you say the corner of 38th and Colfax?" "Yes, of course!" A. exclaimed. "But you do know that 38th and Colfax run parallel to each other, right?" "I know that! But it was on the corner of 38th and Colfax!" We gave up trying to convince her that there was nowhere in this world that the two streets would intersect, but gave it up as a lost cause. After we all hummed a few bars from the theme of The Twilight Zone.

If you guessed that this is a woman who was a living, breathing source for numerous family stories, you'd be absolutely right. I will only briefly mention that she often planned her driving excursions around whether or not they would require her to make left turns. One of my favorite stories has to do with her experience Christmas shopping a number of years ago for her granddaughter. Sarah had told her grandmother that she would like to have the latest album by Def Leppard for Christmas. I do not know whether either of them wrote the information down, but suffice it to say that A. showed up at the music store with her signals just a little bit crossed. She remembered that the name of the group involved some sort of impairment and one of the Great Cats. When she was asked if she needed help, she responded with a sigh of relief. "Oh, yes, please. My granddaughter wants to have the latest album from Crippled Tiger." She left the store with the right album, but I am pretty sure that the former record store employee loves telling the story to this day!

As I said before, I haven't seen A. in a number of years. I wish her well, and still get a laugh thinking about some of the things she used to do and say. I don't know how long her family will have her around, but I do know one thing. When she leaves this mortal plane, she will probably build herself another cathouse. With Victorian furnishings. At the corner of 38th and Colfax.