Knowing that fifteen is quite old for a cat, Annie had been planning for over a year. “Getting my affairs in order,” she explained, when she handed me a sheet of notebook paper. ‘First will and testify,’ read the top line written in crayon, each letter large scrawling and a different color from the last making the whole thing look like a strange version of a rainbow. Then it said, ‘Bury me in the Pet Sandwichtarry in the back yard in a Walmer bag.’ Phil had begun calling Walmart Walmer and Annie followed suit.
“Annie it’s ‘last will and testatment,” I said.
“Slam, cats have nine lives and this is my first,” Annie replied, tossing a handful of fish eyes into her mouth rolling them around on her tongue and sighing, ‘ummmm’ when she finally started chewing them.
“Where is this pet ‘sandwichtarry’?” I asked knowing exactly what a sandwichtarry was. My father had often referred to the cemetary across the road from our house as a sandwichtarry. I still did not believe Annie had frequent visits with my parents when she traveled in her time machine, but only because I did not believe that her time machine could actually work.
“Slam,” Annie sighed, like I was the dumbest person that ever drew a breath of life, “The old pet sandwichtarry that has been in the back yard for the past 93 years. Old Sophie’s pet daddy long legs, Bessie Bunch’s 800 pound gorilla; Don, Old Slimy Babcock who passed away last week in the towers,” she pointed to a garden of bird houses she rented to mice and squirels. Slimy was an elderly gecho.
There had never been a pet cemetary in our back yard, but Slimy had passed away the previous week and Annie, Annie Jr and Duh-Wayne had been seen treking through the back yard with shovels and pick axes claiming they were gold miners and not to bother them. You know I kind of expect this behavior from a couple of cats but Duh-Wayne he really should have known there is no gold around here.
I probably should have been worried about the Pet Sandwichtarry but I didn’t bother myself with it. I had plenty of worries already so I didn’t. Annie was always digging around in the back yard, digging up stuff and planting stuff, like the multiple hamburger trees and mice tail roots she had been trying to cultivate for years.
I should have worried even more when Duh-Wayne took on a Maine accent, and kept saying….’Ahhh yup,’ instead of a standard yes. The fact he took on that accent after a weekend of scary movies should have worried me more but again I ignored all of it and moved passed the whole sandwichtarry thing.
“What did you mean by first will anyway, Annie,” I asked.
Annie slapped her head. “Cats have nine lives, Slam.” Annie explained.
“Annie that is physically impossible and what that means is that cats often times live dangerous lives and get into all kinds of scrapes and situations but somehow get through it unscathed and dangerous life means fending for yourself fighting off other cats for a dinner you had to hunt for yourself. Not like you Annie that lays around watching tv, tweeting and getting your meals served on a silver platter.” I sighed.
Annie made this weird annoying beeping sound and screamed, “Negative wrong answer.”
Annie was strangely quiet the rest of the day though and later on I heard her answer Annie Jr’s question of , “what’s wrong, Mom-mom,” with a, “I’m dying Annie Jr. life is like a box of chocolate covered mice….”
I interrupted her with. “Annie stop saying that. You are NOT dying. You pretend this at least once a week. I will think you are dead because you are laying there unmoving no matter what I do and just when I think you ARE dead, you roll around and laugh.”
Annie did not argue this time, she just stared at me from her big princesses bed, she laid in every night with the flannel sheets with little pigs on them, keeping her warm in the winter and cool in the summer. She remained quiet the rest of the day and rested. I never thought anything more about it, I mean I knew she was getting old.
Later on, I got up to go to the bathroom and saw she was gasping for air. She did this often trying to fool me and I laughed a bit at her prank. But she wasn’t pranking this time. She gasped a final breath and my beloved Annie was gone. She had died of old age and my heart broke in a zillion pieces.
Grandfather and I wrapped her in a towel and then the blanket that Annie Jr. wore home to us. Abe and Bryan had given it to him and I knew how close Annie was to Duh-Wayne, Curry and the girls. Then as instructed we put her in a Walmer bag.
I held her while Grandfather dug her a little grave and we played her favorite songs. “Dancing in the Dark”, “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,” “Nashville Cats,” and we sent her off with her idol Rod singing her to sleep with “You’re in my heart.”
Saying goodbye to a friend like this is always so hard, especially knowing that you won’t have the ability to interact as you once did. I felt empty inside and my face was wet from crying and my cheeks were red. Grandfather’s shoulders were all slumped and his head was pointed down as he put his arm around my shoulder and we went back upstairs.
The saga of Annie had ended. Fifteen years of a life no cat had ever experienced before Annie. Fifteen years of stories and nonsense; fifteen years of a bizare unpredictable, off the wall crazy cat and it was over. I missed her already. My heart hurt, my stomach had lumps in it and the tears stopped sometimes but started again soon after.
Grandfather and I reached out to family and friends, and spent time talking about and remembering our dear Annie. Duh-Wayne and Spam came. Spam and I sat drinking a cup of sludge in honor of Annie, Spam knew exactly how to make it.
Duh-Wayne, Grandfather and Annie Jr. went to visit Annie in her final spot. There were gone for what seemed an eternity. They returned and I suggested we order a pizza because Annie seemed to like that the best. Annie Jr. ordered it and I cringed a little when I heard extra mouse tails but that is how Annie liked it best so I decided to go with it.
We’d no more than opened the box of pizza and Duh-Wayne had cracked the first moose made when I heard a familiar laugh. I thought at first it was Annie Jr. because he sounds a lot like his mother.
Then I heard Spam say, “Grandfather, your cat smells like the ground she dug herself out of.”
Then I knew. I knew the reason for the pet sandwichtarry and why Annie had not left even one possession to anyone and why she said first will. She wasn’t going to be a zombie, or a ghost, or a witch, she was something else. “I’m back Slam, a hundred times more Annie than you can imagine.” Then she laughed.
It was an eerie laugh, a scary laugh the kind of laugh that makes you get goose bumps. This was more like death with Annie not life with Annie. I was a little scared but living with Annie had made me a little braver over the years. Sometimes her nonsense made you stronger and I feared it would get worse.
Annie, who had taken on a dirty moth eaten look since she had been buried and later reburied by Duh-Wayne, Grandfather and Annie Jr. in the pet sandwichtarry, crawled back into her princesses bed and flipped on her remote as if nothing had occured. She smelled awful. Life went on as normal.
Authors note: My beloved Annie did pass way this morning a few minutes after two she was 15 yrs old. Her presence in my home will be sorely missed, from her awesome mice catching skills, to her chirping meows. My heart is really broken, but this blog and making Annie continue her adventures will lessen my grief and heal my heart. Fly high Annastasia AnnaMaria Albergeti.