The following short stories are about three of my pets' visits after they passed away. I should start by making it clear that the first one took place during my childhood in Mexico but, given the fact that they are going to be very short, I have decided to include them together in the same narrative.
As a little background about my family, I'm the second child out of four siblings whom, either by my parents' careful calculations or sheer luck, were born fifteen months apart from each other. They had four children in a little less than four years and with birthdays in January, April, July and October on four consecutive years in the early 1960's.
Perhaps this information is irrelevant to the stories but, in my opinion, will be helpful into having a better picture of some of the events.
JON THE ROOSTER
One day, the store where Mom used to buy eggs from had a promotion, giving away a little chick as a bonus for buying a certain amount of eggs. That's how we got a little yellow ball of incredible softness that began following us all over the house as soon as Mom put it on the ground. I don't remember who came up with the name, but we began calling him Jon and he was our first pet.
With time, Jon grew up into a handsome white rooster with a bright red comb and wattles, he looked magnificent crowing in the mornings and liked to take dirt baths under the pomegranate tree that was at the back of the house and used to peck on the ground calling for an imaginary and nonexistent lady of the feathery kind.
There's too little I remember about Jon, perhaps because roosters are not exactly attached to their masters or, perhaps because it has been too long since all this happened; but I remember he became aggressive and territorial, and used to chase Mom when she was wearing a pair of pistachio-green shoes with chunky heels, - it was the 60's, after all!
As mean as he was, he was our pet and my siblings and I loved him. Unfortunately, my parents didn't consider him a part of the family and had some other plans for him and, one day, they decided to turn him into our supper.
Needless to say, us kids, aged seven and under, didn't want to eat that evening; instead, we were wailing and crying over our dinner plates looking at Jon's body parts to Mom's dismay and Dad's anger.
As traumatic as this was, we survived. Few days later, I looked to the back of the house through the kitchen window and saw Jon pecking on the dirt under the pomegranate tree. I couldn't believe what I was seeing!
After blinking my eyes for a couple of times, Jon wasn't there any more and I didn't mention this to anyone because, though I was used to the grownups telling ghosts stories, I had never heard about animals having spirits and much less about any pet escaping from the cooking pot!
I didn't tell anyone what I saw that day, little did I know that that wouldn't be the first time a pet would let me know he was fine.
BUGGY THE DOG
After Jon, we had some other pets, mostly dogs that grew up beside us. Some died of old age and some others had violent deaths: two were poisoned by some heartless person and one run over by a car.
In my late teens we adopted a puppy from one of the neighbors. It was a black and white furry ball of fun that, supposedly, was a cocker spaniel but, in reality, was more of a mongrel. Regardless, we loved him and shared great times with him. We named him Buggy and we were his pack.
As we grew up and my siblings got married leaving the paternal house, I was the last one of Buggy's pack and he was very attached to me. By those days I used to travel frequently and Buggy's way to show how much he had missed me was by following everywhere around the house and sitting outside the bathroom door when I had to use it, to the point that I would call him "mi sombra" (my shadow).
Then, I got married and emigrated to Canada leaving behind not only my family but aging Buggy too.
I went back to Mexico once more during Buggy's life and he was very excited to see me again. He couldn't jump the way he used to but his wagging tail was as fast as a chopper's rotor and, of course, he followed me acting again like 'mi sombra'.
Back in Canada one day I couldn't stop thinking about Buggy with nostalgia, it felt like having him at my side following me everywhere the way he used to do after I came back from a trip.
The next day Mom called me to let me know Buggy had died peacefully during the night.
I'm sure "Mi Sombra" found his way to Canada to spend one more time by my side.
MR SPOTS THE CAT
One morning in early spring I heard a cat meowing loudly somewhere outside the house and, after checking that my three cats were indoors, I went to investigate what was going on.
When I got to the bottom of the driveway, I found a cat balled up in the ditch. It was a mostly white cat with some black spots on his head, ears, tail and back; it had a pink nose and the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen on a cat.
After some further inspection I saw the big set of jewels that marked him as a boy.
I don't know if he came to the neighborhood following the scent of love, or if someone who didn't want him just dropped him on the road, but the poor thing was just a little more than fur and bones and looked scared and lost.
Having three cats of my own, I knew I couldn't keep him but decided to let him stay around and give him fresh water and the odd morsel to eat. Since the house was in a semi-rural area there's plenty of mice and other unfortunate little animals to feed a good hunting cat.
For those days a crew of construction workers were paving the streets of the neighborhood and the ones of a new subdivision being built on the hill. I'm sure the guys thought I was a crazy cat lady since not only my three cats -Poem, Tom and White Socks- used to follow me on the yard, but two of the neighbours' cats that came to my place looking for feline company and now, on top of them, Mr Spots had joined the club!
Something between six weeks to two months later, Mr Spots had become the outdoors cat and used to help me by rubbing against my legs when working at the vegetable garden in the mornings. He would stick around the house and wander on the hill.
One morning he didn't show up and I began calling him, at some point an image played in my minds eye, it was that of a young man laughing and driving away after hitting Mr Spots.
At that moment I knew I wouldn't see the cat again.
Later that morning, one of the construction workers told my husband that he had seen the people from the Department of Public Works picking up our cat's body from the side of the road.
I think Mr Spots came to tell me the reason why he wasn't coming again.
Well, this story ended up being longer than I had intended... If you made it this far, I thank you for reading.