Shortly after we moved to Florida, someone gave us a cat. While we were still pondering over this possible change, the cat’s erstwhile person arrived at the door with one of the most beautiful cats we had ever seen. The woman told us that the cat was ten years old, a birman, and that her name was Jojo. Then she left.
“Jojo” did not waste time in telling us that her real name was Baby Doll. She also informed us that my younger daughter was her person of choice. She slept with daughter #2 every night of the rest of her life (except for the three years daughter was at college). Baby Doll’s domain included everyone in the family, but Sarah was her first concern and she slept on Sarah’s head. One of her favorite pass times was watching Cat TV on the windowsill in Sarah’s room.
In fact, Baby Doll took on the improvement of the entire family, and kept us in line. She pointed out such things as cleaning projects that needed to be attended to…immediately. Baby Doll had ways of making us cooperate. All of us were put on our mettle when it came to good manners. She made an entire teaching DVD about manners. If, in the way of duty, someone suggested that she was rude, her immediate response was, “It’s only rude if it isn’t true.”
When Wu and Teddy joined the family, she took charge of them as well. She and Wu were best friends for all of her life.They could never beat her to the kitchen when someone opened a can of tuna fish. And woe be to anyone who forgot to let her lick the can.
As the children grew into young adults, she was very particular about their friends – especially the friends who had marriage on their minds. If the person did not pass Baby Doll’s inspection, they were given their walking papers. In fact, she had no time for people who tried to curry favor with her, either. She chose whom she chose.
Life became hectic with graduations, and jobs. Baby Doll continued to teach and love everyone in her sphere of influence. When Sarah went out on a date, she was at the front door to scold her if she was out late. (“Late” might have been after 8 p.m.) She might have been getting older, but she kept up the protocol until the end. In fact, we realized in retrospect that she held herself together until she had given the Baby Doll Seal of Approval to all of our childrens’ prospective mates.
The summer of 2007 was all about preparing for eldest daughter’s wedding. Such a rush and bustle! The four-legged ones were left much on their own. Shortly after the wedding, we noticed that Baby Doll’s fur was matted – a thing she never allowed. While we were still taking that in, she tried to get a drink, fell in the water bowl and couldn’t get out. She tried valiantly to tell us she was okay, but we saw through her bravado. With tears running down our cheeks, we took this 18 year-old cat to the vet’s.
Baby Doll lives on in our family lore, and in her teaching DVDs. Such a cat comes only once in a lifetime, I think.