As I mentioned in my previous story about Champs and her unfortunate poo accident, I had, before then, been allowed to be in the company of Ivory. I use the term 'own' a cat loosely, because I really don't think one ever can. They are so independent, and they will eventually decide whether they want to waste their time with you, or decide if it is really worth it all! Anyway, that is the way I have always viewed their world. (I don't think I'm too much off track there!)
So to go on with the real beginning of my story, I was newly married, and was still teaching at the local high school, a job I loved. I was home that night, deciding I had better start thinking about food for dinner, when John arrived with a small, white kitten/cat in his arms. He had been as his parent's neighbouring property, and noticed this poor scrawny, white farm cat with the sunburned ears, and a the scared look on her face, as she tried to evade the sheep dogs who ruled there. Feeling sorry for her, he thought instantly of me, and knew that I would nurse her back to good health, and love her company, so ... I became a cat/kitten carer/possible owner. This was from the man who disliked cats!! He also forgot to run the cat issue past Elsa, my Australian terrier - lucky for all of us that Elsa was a free thinker and easy going!
So, yes, I did nurse her back to good health, and her ears healed with special lotions, and I discovered she loved bubble baths! I know - you're saying: 'What! Cats don't like water!' But you are mistaken! She loved them! In fact, so did Elsa and they would jump around in the bubbles and smile a lot! You're now saying:
'What you talkin' about girl', aren't you:
'Dogs and cats don't have baths together! They are supposed to hate each other!'
Well- we didn't face those issues in our home - maybe they just felt the concern and love and after such rough beginnings, loved any sort of attention! Remind me to tell you about how Elsa entered our lives and home!
Anyway, I had certain towels for them and would gently lift them out of the tub and wrap them in their towels and then take them out onto the front veranda to dry them off, and brush them. It was always special time for the 3 of us! Elsa never did the doggy roll and throw of water, until I had her on the veranda and took off her towel - I always appreciated that, and told her so.
Ivory and Elsa were best friends and slept together at night in the small back room, and shared their food, often deciding to eat and swap food, each preferring the other's choice that had been offered.
But the one thing that stood out in my mind about Ivory, and set her apart from any other cat I had ever known, was her ability to zone in and understand, I mean really understand my emotions.
As I was a new permanent resident recruit to Australia, I didn't realise how homesick I could become. And believe me, I got pretty homesick. I mean for the first year, while I was just teaching and travelling, it was a breeze! My family was back in the US, and I could always go home! But during my second year, when I actually decided to get married and move to Australia permanently, it really didn't hit me until later. Like a few months later, and then.....well.....I was here, and my family was there! It was difficult.
One particularly bad afternoon for me occurred at a busy time in our lives. I think John may have been involved in harvesting, and I was alone in the house except for Ivory and Elsa. In order for me to call my parents, just to connect and say hello, I had to book the call through the local exchange operator, (who didn't provide this service on Sundays except for dire emergencies) and wait for the local exchange operator to phone me at the selected time and make the physical phone connection to the US. My home phone didn't have numbers--it had a turning knob--I don't even know if that makes sense to you, in today's world of mobiles---but I really had to plan ahead to be homesick. This particular day, homesickness attacked me, before I could plan for it!!
I started crying, and ended up sprawled across my just freshly made bed, and cried a lot. Knowing that I couldn't do a thing about how I felt, and knowing that the decision to live overseas at the time, was solely my own decision. I couldn't even blame anyone! It was a bad day for me.
As I lay there crying, and wondering how I could pull myself together, I suddenly felt a quiet thump on the bed. A very slight movement. I opened my eyes and Ivory was staring into my face. I looked at her as I dabbed my eyes with a tissue, and then just layed there. She just kept looking at me --intently. She eventually layed down next to me, and just put her paw on my arm, and started purring. I still felt pretty miserable, but I just layed still and listened to her purring. It was almost like a vibration as she breathed against me, and kept a soft tone purring away. After a while, I started to realise that I was just being silly, and that I needed to 'Buck up!' as they say, and opening my eyes, noticed that Ivory had sat up and was looking intensely at me again. We both just stared at each other, in a very quiet house, and then I reached out and rubbed her back and said a quiet 'Thank you' to her, and she just as quietly hopped down off the bed, and went outside through the doggie door.
I felt better. Much more calm, and gave myself a good talking to. I never had a dark day like that again.
That must be why cats are so important in our lives! At least Ivory was!