Marmalade, an orange-striped cat

We got Marmalade when I was young.  My mother named him.  He was fun to play with when my brother and I were still young; I remember playing with him in the bright orange huge bean bag chair in the basement family room, where the t.v. was.

He faded into the woodworks when I was in high school and college.  I had lost my childhood love of pets and wildlife.  I used to love lions, and Africa, more than anything else.  It was an important escape from the suffering and shame of my life as a little English girl in a normal all-American neighborhood of that time. We watched “Born Free” and I accompanied the chorus on the piano when we sang the theme song in school.

Marmalade had a terrible accident.  My mother set out to drive and heard something knocking around in the engine.  It was Marmalade.  He dropped out of the back as she was turning the corner onto the other neighborhood street on the way to the supermarket.  She took him to the vet, and there was no visible damage.  But he was funny after that.  He took to me.  He used to love to park himself on the slanting roof outside my window.  I didn’t understand at the time.  I’ve blogged elsewhere about the peculiar damage to me as a young child that made me funny too.

For the longest time, more recently, for forever it seems, I’ve been trying to figure the discontinuity that led me from a progressive inpatient psychiatric unit in Cambridge, Mass., to my parents’ new home in rural PA, and then, shortly afterward, to the nearest State Hospital.  When I visited for Christmas during the hard time that preceded this discontinuity, Marmalade was desperate.  I had dropped off my cat Daisy.  I lay on the couch and let poor, old Marmalade knead my stomach and chest desperately, drooling and shaking and purring.  I didn’t know what to do.  My mother accused me of abandoning Daisy.

I just realized that it was while I was in and out of the local psych ward and then the state hospital, soon after this started, Marmalade died.  I feel so sad thinking back to him, a fragile, sad, beautiful cat.  I learned to love and value cats as I grew older.  He reminds me of my childhood.  I suddenly realized that this was the discontinuity.  Just as suddenly I’m grieving.  This was the painful discontinuity.  Marmalade, died, and I lost a piece of my childhood with him.

Cats can be a liability, I have observed very recently.  They can hide, they can expose.  My mother is too close to her cats.  My son is a Scot of one of the Clans of the Cat (so of course my husband was also.  That connection I have also explored elsewhere in my blogging, later cats, later people in my life.)  My son has two black and white and grey tiger stripped cats, two young males.  They are well-trained.  I learned from this.  You don’t get too close to a cat.  “Touch not the cat bot a glove” is the motto of the Clans of the Cat, and I still have to work on  understanding this.  All I know is that all of a sudden I am very sad.  Marmalade was an abandoned kitten my riding teacher found by the side of the rode at the barn I went to ride horses.  It is Sunday today.  I am listening to Catholic music radio.  It helps.  Gotta go now to pick up my son, who has lost nerve functioning in his right hand mysteriously and also just survived another car crash with pain in his ribs.  Only.  Thank God.


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