In time for Mother’s Day, I wanted to re-blog this post I did about three years ago, but with a newly found very old photo of my mother and the family cat, Molly. This would have been taken about forty years ago, so I don’t need to say any more about the quality of the photo. It’s what’s in the photo that counts. My mother loved animals and was kind to them all. I still shudder to think how she swept spiders up carefully on a dustpan and put them outside to continue their lives out there where they belonged. It only makes sense that she would have her picture taken holding her cat, standing under her favourite pear tree, beside the tulips, daffodils, and primroses she planted.She loved her pets, her flowers, her garden, her children. She was a great cook and baker and a loving mother. Molly was the family cat but she really was my mother’s cat. Rescued when she was little, Molly paid back our family with loyalty and love. My mother died in 1982 and Molly left this world before her, but neither will ever be forgotten. If my mother were alive she would love to hear me retell stories of her beloved cat.
Let me tell you a bit about Molly.
We know that most animals communicate with each other and with people. Domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are especially good at making their wishes known. They’ve had thousands of years of practice. Dogs bark; cats meow. But what of those animals whose voices are weak or even gone? How do they manage to communicate?
Molly had a lot of character, but she was almost voiceless. Her meow was barely a cat whisper. She may have been mute, but she was certainly not deaf, and she demonstrated a love of music. When we made music in our house, Molly always appeared on the scene. She liked to put her paws on the piano and add her “voice” to the harmony, and when my sister played the recorder, Molly rubbed her neck on the instrument.
“Look at her,” I said, laughing. “She’s writhing around like a cobra coming out of a snake charmer’s basket.” When we played tuneless scales for her benefit, it seemed to drive the cat crazy. “You’d better stop,” I told my sister. “You don’t know what you might be saying in cat-speak…although she does seem to like it.”
If Molly needed to go outside, she ran to the front door and waited. Usually someone noticed her. If not, she ran across the piano keyboard, making plenty of noise, and then jumped down to wait by the door.
“Allegro and forte. Sounds like she’s in a hurry this time,” I said.
My parents’ bedroom was off limits to Molly and she knew it. My father didn’t like animals and barely tolerated the cat. Even when the bedroom door was open, Molly never ventured inside. But one night, after the family went to bed, Molly pounced on my parents’ bed and immediately jumped down again. Jolted from her sleep, my mother shooed her out. When no one got out of bed, Molly repeated her pounce. The moment my mother got up, Molly ran into the living room. A thick cloud of smoke had filled the room.
“Fire!” my mother yelled. Hearing the shout, my father scrambled out of bed. They stared at the smoke billowing out of the fireplace.
“No. There’s no fire, but the damper’s closed!” my father said, his voice in panic mode. He flipped the lever to open the damper while my mother flung open doors and windows.
This time it was an easy fix, but my parents were shaken up to think that the whole family might have died of smoke inhalation.
“Thank God for Molly,” my mother said. “She can’t talk, but she sure can communicate.”
My mother gave Molly a bit of left over chicken as a special thank you and we all took turns cuddling our resourceful hero.