By Rick Hamlin
A Cat's Welcome Home
My cat Fred always gives me a hard time when I come back from a vacation. He’s a rescue cat, who was found wandering around the subway platform in Harlem nine years ago, very near Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Hence his name.
“Were you afraid you were abandoned again?” I ask him. “Did you not like your cat sitter?”
He runs around the house, yowling, and then sulks in a corner. I check his food dish. Full. I look at his water dish. Plenty of water. And the cat sitter has left the radio on for company.
“Here, Fred, I’m back now,” I say. I empty my bag and then invite him to sit in it, usually a welcome treat. He jumps up on the bed, then jumps off. He asks to be brushed, but doesn’t enjoy it for long.
Exhausted from my travels, I go to bed. I repeat a psalm to myself, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble ...” Fred yowls at the foot of the bed, then leaps up on the pillow, nuzzling me (waking me), then leaps off. He repeats this action several times.
Well after midnight, I fall asleep. Well before dawn, Fred and the birds have decided that I should wake up.
Finally he allows me to pet him on the nose. He stretches his neck and purrs. He’s OK. “See, you’re loved. We didn’t forget you,” I tell him.
Still short on sleep, I remind myself that I’ll be OK, too. I head to the bathroom, finishing the psalm I started the night before: “Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
“Be still, Fred,” I mutter to myself, “and know that I am home.”