When Eleanor was but a wee little thing, Paul rescued him, He kept him in a little bed in his bedroom and fed him with a dropper. We thought he would die. Kittens don’t often survive when cared for by 12 yr old boys. But Eleanor did. He grew slowly but surely, his coat black and glossy. He was a house cat from the start, coming and going at will through Paul’s bedroom window that he kept propped open just for him. It never seemed to enter his mind that he was not every bit as much a part of the family as any of the rest of us, and perhaps he was right.
Loren named him Eleanor. He was just a little fellow then, and Eleanor a tiny kitten. We didn’t realize until later that he is actually a tomcat. But it was too late then. He must forever be Eleanor now.
You have to understand, we aren’t exactly a cat loving family. We aren’t a cat hating family either. More like a ‘cats should stay in the barn’ kind of family. Dad never allowed cruelty of any kind and I’m proud to say that I have 6 brothers who would never kick a cat. Dorcas Smucker says you can judge a man by how he treats a cat and I dare say she is right.
Eleanor doesn’t really consider himself a cat tho, He is after all, part of the family. If he needs to get out during the night, he knows he needs to go into mom and dad’s room and meow loudly. He knows if he wants breakfast he needs to get from dad, he’s the only one who actually shares his food.
We have come to feel it is quite comforting on winter days to see watch him sleep before the fire. He keeps himself meticulously clean and we have never found cat hair in our house. Even Larry, who is the closest thing to a cat hater in the family, grudgingly admitted that “he is pretty nice as far as cats go”
He is the most patient cat I have ever met. He let’s children play with him, pull his tail, hold him clumsily. Anything. Almost. There was only one little girl ever who was too much for him. We found him hiding in the closet.
Our friends and family are all a bit shocked by Eleanor’ s presence, justifiably thinking that our family has enough chaos without adding a cat to the melee. But Eleanor adds a bit of security to our lives. He’s always there, a constancy in the ever changing scenes of our life. Usually.
Last week, Matt and Paul were driving happily down the road about a mileage a half from home. Matt was driving at a pretty good speed when he heard something on the back of the truck and glanced back just in time to see Eleanor take a flying leap off of the side of the truck.
Matt and Paul, who have thankfully never been infected with the cat hatred that seems to be required of teenage boys, pulled off and walked up and down the road calling for the family cat. They saw no trace of him at all.
They came home, and we waited anxiously for several days, hoping he had lost only one of his nine lives. Matt felt fairly sure he was dead. “I was going pretty fast, I’m not sure he could have survived”
Paul was more hopeful and I think couldn’t bear the thought that his beloved Eleanor was really gone.
Three days went by. We began to give up hope. Perhaps he really was gone. And then, there he was. His face has a big scrape right above his eye and he’s a bit thin. But he was home. He was welcomed with a feast of milk and chicken. Dad sent a message to all the family “the prodigal has returned!” When Loren came home from school he flopped on the ground beside him and just held him for a little. There was much rejoicing. He that was lost has been found.