This I Believe

cynthia - 92651
Entered on March 24, 2007

I didn’t choose the father of my children, nor did he choose me. Alas, it was a force beyond our control, a higher power driving two souls together…our union, in fact, was orchestrated by my cat.

Sweetpea was indeed one special feline. With no training to speak of, she wrangled me a career, a man, and ultimately, a family. Our chance meeting happened my sophomore year in college, but I remember it like was yesterday. Drenched and skeletal, she looked like a rat. I was terrified she’d rub her rabid head on my leg as I opened my door, so I flicked her a piece of my English muffin and scurried off to my male-dominated geology class.

Later that same day, having struck out on any study dates or walk home with Cute Neighbor (and I had timed that class specifically to coincide with his routine), The Rat seemed like a perfect topper to my scavenger-like debacle of a day. So as I opened my door a second time, I surrendered to her rub. That was the moment she claimed me.

Things back then didn’t seem nearly as spooky as my friends found them. Sure she miraculously transformed from The Rat to a groomed, snow-white Himalayan. And, yeah, she did seem to ‘always be watching’. And I, too, could have sworn she had no tail. ‘But look at it now…’ I’d remark, ‘have you ever seen anything more luscious?’

In no time, Cute Neighbor was mine, my parents bought me a car, and I received one of the highest journalism test scores on campus. Coincidence? You tell me. Because the moment I embarked upon my post-college life – curiously, in a ‘no-pets-allowed’ apartment – my life went to pot. Cute Neighbor dumped me, my car died in a church parking lot and my career? The best I could do was answer the phone at a newspaper’s classifieds department. Part-time.

A fool no longer, I re-claimed my cat and moved.

Our first place was a quaint cottage with big windows. There, promotions were handed to me like parking tickets and dates with Cuter Neighbors were abundant. Thank God she was back in my life.

But ominously, second dates were tougher to come by. Refuting any responsibility, I simply took it as another feline sign, moved us to the more singles-conducive town and bought Sweetpea a fish. Still no second-date prospects. And if that weren’t enough to dishearten a believer, she somehow managed to lock me out on Father’s Day – a day where everyone (but me) was on the deck with their families, sipping happiness through a straw, lapping up rays of perfectness.

Pathetically, my one spare house key was at my boss’ house. “Catnip goes on strike today” I seethed, crashing her family barbeque. And then I saw him. This vision in flip-flops was sure to be part of Sweetpea’s elaborate plan.

But as bad luck would have it, this God at the grill was my boss’ brother. (I’d recognize that legacy of a nose anywhere.) So we chit-chatted a bit, exchanged glances across the pool, but other than that, any pending romance seemed poorly timed and, professionally, in poor form.

So what was he doing at my house the following Friday night, you ask? Well, no one can deny the power of a feline. (Or that I strategically left my jacket on the hood of his car). Wine chilled, I was prepared for this “chance meeting”. But he threw me off when he asked for a glass of milk. Unable to recover, I struggled for conversation, which – as it turned out – didn’t matter. Because whatever was exchanged came to a screeching halt the moment Sweetpea charged the counter and stuck her head in his glass. As only an ostrich should do, I ignored it, stuck my head down and waited.

And then the unexpected happened.

Boss’ Brother picked up the glass, took a sip, and placed it back down on the counter closer to Sweetpea. My future husband and guardian cat were sharing a drink in my living room! It was only a matter of time until we all exchanged nuptials.

But two weeks later Sweetpea died. Lost and lonely, I struggled to navigate the rest of my life.

Or was this the rest of my life?

After a quick inventory – good job, friends and home – it all became clear. Her final task was to find me the father of my children. Her work, evidently, had been done.

To say this was awkward to explain on a third date with the brother is an understatement. But ten years later, as I overhear him gently coaxing fluoride onto our sons’ back teeth, or as he – with animation – reads them Chocolate Percy for the 4,897th time as if it’s his first, I marvel at my late Himalayan’s final gift. Plucked from a barbeque, she dragged in my dad of the year.

So this Father’s Day, as our kids scratch his ears, feed him treats and ignore his fish-like morning breath – I‘m once again powerless – over the warmth, companionship and love between guardian and child.