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Frankie, My Blue-Eyed Love
That Dark Night
It was a cold dark night but thankfully the road we traveled on was short and straight. I was happy when we reached our destination quickly, wanting to get back home under a cozy blanket on the couch. We picked our movie out quickly from the local Blockbuster, a convenient place to rent the latest thrill. As we walked through the dimly lit parking lot towards the car, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye.
"Did you see that?" I whispered, bending down some to get a closer look.
"No, what are you talking about?" my husband responded.
"I'm going to check it out," I said softly as I crept slowly to the unlit parking lot adjacent to the Block Buster parking lot. The building that faced It looked like a real estate office that had probably closed hours ago.
As I made my way towards what looked like a small slowly-moving animal, I turned to see my husband getting into the car, clearly losing interest in my little adventure. I never hesitated to look at and pick up animals, and he didn't share this interest at all. I turned back to the small bundle and stooped down cautiously to get a better look. A strange sight, but definitely a cat, looking more like a mis-shaped filthy mop.
In the darkness, the small animal made no noise and stayed perfectly still in a crouched position. I decided to take my chances and put my hands on him. To my horror, his bones were extremely pronounced. I felt them instantly as I gently touched his back. Clearly he was near starvation. Decision made; he was coming with me. Scooping him up carefully, I carried him assuredly to the car.
"What are you doing?" he asked in a frustrated tone as I sat down and placed the animal securely on my lap.
"He's starving. We have to feed him," I said in a voice that was final. "Let's go."
"We're not keeping him," he spat back.
"Oh no, of course not," was my honest response at that moment.
Once in the light at home, I was able to get a good look at this furry mop of an animal. He was a complete mess. His fur was a dark soot-gray and matted, looking as though he had fallen into a bucket of dirty oil that must have soaked his fur for weeks. Hardly moving, he seemed completely exhausted.
I gently set him on the floor and gave him a little bowl of milk. He slowly lapped it up and then looked up at me, sickly eyes open wide. Blue. His eyes were big and blue, with a small hint of happiness in them, despite his current condition. He soon fell asleep on a thick folded towel in the kitchen, sleeping soundly, probably for the first time in quite a while.
Cleaning Off the Oil
The next day I placed his 2 pound body in my kitchen sink, filled with luke-warm soapy water. I didn't know how he would respond, but never expected him to be so calm and still. He actually seemed to enjoy it.
My husband walked in the door. "Oh no, that's not good," he said as he looked at me questioningly.
"He needs a bath, and he is getting one. I think he's going to need several more before whatever this is comes off," winking at him as I said it.
I was able to wash him ever so gently, getting off some of the oil and dirt. Then I wrapped him in a fluffy clean towel and dried him off.
20 Some Baths Later
It took over 20 baths to get all of the oil off of his incredibly soft white fur. He was beautiful. He was a blue-eyed Persian cat underneath the terrible coat of dirt and oil that had previously covered him.
He must've felt better too because he soon began talking. He had a scratchy old-man voice that completely fit his personality. I'll never forget how he would cock his head and meow in short bursts as if he was speaking words. By the look on his face, he expected us to understand them too.
Weighing 6 pounds now, he began to play and go outside for short periods of time, always sprinting to the door the second it reopened as if he might lose the chance to get back in.
As for deciding whether to keep him, he ended up spending each evening curled up on my husband's chest as he relaxed in his outstretched recliner. He didn't seem to mind. A very affectionate soul, he loved to spend time curled up on my lap during the day, or telling me something very important. I never knew exactly what he was saying, but I liked to pretend that I did.
Letting Him Go
We only had him for 4 years. Frankie developed kidney failure and ironically dwindled back down to nearly two pounds before the veterinarian told us there was nothing she could and that we needed to say goodbye. I held him as the needle was inserted and he took his last dying breath. Even if only for a short while, I think he knew that he was loved.