Farcel was no ordinary cat. She had wisdom. She had class and style. She had beauty and grace. She had A LOT of kittens.
I’m not sure who named her Farcel and I don’t know why no one had her fixed. She was our family cat. I knew her when I was born. She lived to be almost 20 years old.
Farcel taught me how babies were born. I saw her deliver quite a few kittens. She ususally had them in a tiny little closet that was under the water heater. Maybe it was warm there. But, someone, most likely my mother, had put a little blanket in there. When it was close to time for her to deliver, she’d be put in a box and lots of little ones would be born.
As soon as they were old enough, most of the kittens would then get shipped off to live on my grandparents small farm just on the outside of town. I suppose some of them may have stayed around our house, but it would have been outside. I only ever remember two cats in the house. Farcel, the calico cat, and Sulene, the Siamese cat.
One day I was running out to the drive-way to meet my dad who had just gotten home from work; Farcel was coming in from outside. I slammed the screen door on her tail. She clamped down on the back of my leg with her razor sharp teeth and wouldn’t let go. I let out a scream and then a wailing cry. My dad came dashing down the sidewalk, up the stairs, and onto the porch to rescue me. He opened the door and the cat darted off to safety. That is the only time I ever remember Farcel biting anyone, and of course she was just reacting to pain. I forgave her. I still have a crescent shaped scar on the back of my left calf.
Farcel was very special to me. When I was three my mother took a picture of me with her old Brownie. I was at the foot of the porch and she was standing over me. I was hugging Farcel tightly. With my soulful eyes staring up at my mother, my too-big shoes, and wreck-a-mess hair, I looked like a little orphan child. My family has always loved that photograph.
One year I had it put on a calendar and gave it to my dad for Christmas. When he died years later the picture from the calendar was returned to our family. It had been hanging in his office. He had protected it with very thick laminate. I was surprised and very moved that he’d kept it all those years.
When I got married a couple of years later, I gave the laminated picture to my husband. He kept it in his chest of drawers for many years. After we’d been married for twenty years, he had an artist sketch the picture with charcoal and had it framed for me. I cannot tell you how meaningful that precious gift is to me. It hangs in our dining room along with artist renderings of my granddaughters.
It’s kind of amazing the meaning and memories that can be all tied up in a black & white photo of a three year old and her calico cat taken with an old Brownie camera in 1961. Do you have any photographs like that?