Times: They Be A’changin

Today is my mother’s birthday. If she was still alive, she would now be 102. She held on for a long time, finally giving up three and a half months before her hundredth birthday. My father-in-law also lived well into his nineties, dying in the year 2000. So, what am I getting at?

All my life, I’ve heard people say, “Thank God, so-and-so didn’t live to see this.” That prayer of thanks still holds true today.

My mother was a self-styled socialite. She loved only the best of everything. Her clothes, her shoes, her jewelry all spoke to the importance she saw in these material items. Cooking was not her forte; good restaurants and the country club were. Although she lived with me and my wife for the
last ten years of her life, she was continually “on the go” well into her nineties. Restaurants, the casinos, and the bridge tables were her daily haunts. She was not a home-body. With our current pandemic, I can’t imagine trying to keep her quarantined. She was always strong willed, and I would have failed miserably at the task. Thank God, she didn’t live to see this.

My father-in-law was very politically active and a staunch supporter of the Republican party. He was proud to number several high-ranking Republicans in our state as associates and friends. He always voted a straight Republican ticket and even ran for office once or twice. Since my mother-in-law was often ill, he would drag my wife and me to various Republican fund raisers and political events. When my wife and I finally gave up our membership in the Republican party, we guarded that secret for the remainder of his life. Had he known, I’m almost sure he would have disinherited us. Of late, my wife and I have pondered just how he would have reacted to the current administration. My father-in-law was an intelligent man who never tolerated stupidity and weakness in anyone. We can’t help but wonder what he would be saying now. Needless to say, we thank God, he didn’t live to see this. I am seventy-two years of age and suffer from terminal cancer. The idea of death is something I’ve become very comfortable with. As bad as things are in our country, I can only hope and pray that things do not deteriorate further. I don’t want my children and grandchildren to have reason to echo, “Thank God, he didn’t live to see this.”

Busted

With all the controversy concerning the police lately, I thought it might be refreshing to share with you an occurrence that happened over fifty years ago.

My father-in-law had retired as a Major in the Army Military Police. After moving to our little town, he soon became the Chief of Police. His daughter, Marilyn, my wife to be, loved cats. He was more a dog person, himself, but he never prevented Marilyn from having at least one cat around. Fluff was perhaps the most notorious. She was a mottled gray and orange long hair variety who really must have enjoyed sex. Never a season passed without her presenting with at least one litter. Of course, this was in the day when people did not think about spaying their pets. Puppies and kittens abounded.

Fluff had one idiosyncrasy the continually frustrated Marilyn and her mother. The cat would always deliver her kittens in the basement crawlspace next to the fireplace foundation. This habit was all well and good, but that was as far as it went. As soon as the kittens were cleaned up and fed, Fluff would begin moving them from hiding place to hiding place. It was a never-ending merry-go-round of, “Where is Fluff now? Where are the kittens?”

Late one morning, Marilyn and her mother were working in the kitchen. Fluff suddenly appeared at the dining room door and began to meow. At first, she was ignored, but the constant complaining became annoying.

My mother-in-law scowled at the cat. “What’s her problem?”

Marilyn shrugged. “I don’t know.”

The complaining continued until Marilyn walked over to her. “What is it, girl?”

“Meow.”

“I hear you, but what’s the problem?”

“Meow.” She then turned and trotted through dining room and up the stairs.
Marilyn followed. Fluff led her a merry chase, looking under beds and into closets. It
became obvious that the kittens were gone, and Fluff didn’t know where she had put them.

With a sigh, Marilyn reached down and scratched the cat’s head. “Sorry, girl. I don’t know where you’ve put them.” She and the cat headed back to the kitchen.

At that moment, the town patrol car pulled into the car park behind the house.

My mother-in-law looked puzzled. “What’s he doing home?”

The Chief of Police climbed out of the car and headed for the back door. Marilyn and her mother moved to intercept him.

“What are you doing home?”

Without answering his wife’s question, he turned and walked back toward the car.

“Come here.” His voice was firm and brokered no discussion.

Marilyn and her mother reached the car as he threw open the passenger side door.

He pointed. “Look there.”

Marilyn didn’t see anything. “What?”

Her father cleared his throat. “Under the seat.”

Marilyn leaned down and looked. There, under the seat, were Fluff’s missing kittens.
Somehow, she had gotten them outside and into the patrol car.

My father-in-law laughed. “They’ve been all over Sussex County this morning.”

Marilyn and her mother joined in the laughter as they collected the stray kittens.

Fluff stood at the back door and meowed