On holes of the heart (or ode to a garbage cat)

I met Frank on the day I moved to Coopersburg. He ambled down the staircase, through the door, and into a bush. Back then, he was lumpy and gross and more resembled a tumbleweed than a Persian cat.

After the events across the street, he began staying with us. I remember the first time that I touched him: I immediately recoiled. He was covered in dreadlocks, probably years old. Little burrs caught in his long hair and they would seed into finger-sized knots all over his body.

As he became more comfortable in our home, we slowly shaved him down. No groomers in the area would take a cat, probably because they didn’t have the staff to anesthetize them during the procedure. So, every few weeks we’d distract him with belly rubs while using our clippers to remove a handful of dreads. His volume went down as his mange-factor increased.

We met him during the transition from spring to summer and he died during the transition from summer to fall. I like to think that we gave him one good final summer.

I’ll miss the way he meowed. Incessantly. He became quieter in his finals days, with a meow that betrayed pain. During those early summer days, he would meow and meow and meow with a dull inflection and no desire to stop. He would meow like an old door creaks against the frame. He would meow like an old person passing gas.

I will miss that meow.

I’ll miss the way he bothered us while we worked. He would place himself underfoot, without a care for self-preservation. You could be carrying a refrigerator or boiling water and he would be between your legs while meowing for your attention. He liked being around us.

I will miss the way he bothered us.

I’ll miss the way he slept with us. At first, my partner had a strict ‘No Frank’ rule in our bedroom. Mostly because he would wake us up at 4a with that meow until we fed him. But, he liked me the most and out of our housemates, I liked him the most. So, I would find ways around this rule, like leaving the door open so that he could rumble in like a small garbage truck. Then, the rule became ‘No Frank by our heads’. So, he slept on top of the blanket and by our feet. Or, next to me. Or, between us. More often than not, he would take up half the bed and we’d squeeze together.

I will miss the way he slept with us.

I’ll miss the way he would surprise me. He’d alternate between noisy meows and quiet sitting. There were many mornings where I would go to the bathroom, look to my right, and see Frank sitting contently in the bathtub. He loved the bathtub, for reasons I could never really fathom. He loved to lick water off the sides after we showered.

I will miss the way he would surprise me.

I’ll miss looking for Frank. Coming home, he would usually be sitting somewhere outside and under a bush. Upon hearing a car arrive in the driveway, he would run in his lumbering fashion with his big blank stare fixed on you. Sometimes, I would hear his meow before I saw him. Other times, I would see a dark spot honing in on me. At night and in the house, I would see a big fuzz and reach out to touch it, to check if it was really Frank. Sometimes it would be a damp, used towel. Sometimes, it would be Frank.

I will miss looking for Frank.

He was an old cat.
He was a good cat.
I will remember him fondly.

I love you Frank.

Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

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