Today would have been my dad’s birthday. He has been gone for six years now.
Today, my aunt died. She went to bed last night and just didn’t wake up this morning. Missing her habitual 9 AM phone call, my mother went to check on her, finding her in bed, looking asleep, peaceful.
My aunt was the proverbial cat lady, feeding all the strays in the neighbourhood. It was really my parents who started it. When they moved into the city in the late 1960s, they asked my aunt to care for their cat, who was used to being out and about and unlikely to adjust to apartment life. The cat got into the habit of walking my aunt halfway to her office as mayor of her small community. In the late afternoon, the cat would go to meet my aunt at the same halfway point.
My aunt kept cats ever since. When she got old, sometimes her cats were the only reason she got up in the morning. When her last cat died last year, she refused to get a new one, saying she would just worry about what would become of the cat when she herself died. I understand what she meant, even though I argued at the time that she should get a new cat, precisely so that she would have a reason to get up.
If I could design a heaven, it would have my aunt sitting in the garden, having coffee and birthday cake with my dad, surrounded by sunbathing cats.