Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Old Friends

If you find a white hair on a black cat, you will have good luck.
- Old Welsh Superstition

Old Friends
A story, part 1 of 3

Beetie Gilman had spent nearly 20 years of her life in a classroom, teaching fractions and grammar to third graders. In 1989, she'd survived a heart attack, bypass surgery, her retirement party, and her husband's sudden death from a hunting accident.

After crying more tears than one ought to have to cry, Beetie sold the family home and most of her possessions and took herself, her meager savings, and Buster to Florida. It was nice for older folks there, said a friend who'd moved there years ago. It was warm and would be good for her heart, said her doctor. Beetie's daughter, Kayla, who lived an extremely busy life in California, the state of busy lives, figured Florida was about the same distance from California as New York and wouldn't affect the travel time for her yearly trip home too much. Kayla would tell her mom that the next time she called her, maybe next week, when she wasn't so busy.

Buster was Beetie's cat, well, really, Buster had been Leo's cat, but you know the ways of cats. They love the one who feeds them, heck, they'd love a grasshopper if it could figure out how to crack open a cat food can, so Beetie turned out to be OK with Buster. The two shared a quiet life now, one which Beetie hoped would grow a bit brighter, maybe a bit less sad, down in the southern sunshine.

Finding an attractive, affordable condo unit where Buster would be welcome too had been pretty easy, which helped Beetie feel immediately at home in Florida. The town she'd chose was mostly pastels and very shiny, with new shops, except down here they called them "shoppes", and plenty of heart specialists, podiatrists and banks. Services and activites for persons over 55 seemed to be a thriving industry all by itself.

Beetie met a couple other ladies her age and they lunched together frequently. She was thankful for the condo pool where she continued her water exercises, started during her previous cardiac rehab. She even began learning Bridge and hoped one day to be good enough for the condo Bridge Club. Buster had a sunny bay window from which he could perch and observe his world and let his aging bones soak up the warmth. Beetie still cried a bit after going to bed, some nights, not all. Basically, for the most part, she and Buster did OK.

Until someone noticed Buster stretching in his window seat one day and went to the condo office and carried on about their cat allergy. That seemed to remind several other folks in the condo about their cat allergies and so it began...and grew...on and on, until one day, the condo owner gave in to the whining and changed the condo pet policy to "none allowed."

The manager hated to tell the tenants with pets about the new policy as none of the pets had been problems, ever. He really dreaded telling Beetie, she was such a nice lady, a little frail and hard of hearing and that cat didn't bother anybody. But he had his orders. Beetie would be allowed 30 days to what they called, "rehome" Buster or she wouldn't be able to live in her condo any more.

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