In William Faulkner’s book, “As I Lay Dying,” as I recall, the narrator is the matriarch of the family, the grandmother, upstairs on her deathbed, and she can hear her son and grandson making her coffin. Starts that way.

In January, of 1990, me and the girlfriend at the time (Virgo), went to the Mesa (Phoenix area), AZ kitty lock-up to look for a cat that had gone missing. Such as cats will. We walked out of there, for a small fee, and as a poor, broke college student, a fee I could ill-afford, with two six-week old kittens, one gray and one orange tabby. I don’t know what happened to the orange one. Sisters separated at the pound, as the girlfriend and the cat are no longer around. But the gray tabby, at the conclusion of my degree, followed me to Texas. To Austin. To East Austin. North Austin then finally, alongside the river in South Austin.

I cared for that cat, as only loving and devoted cat carer can, for seventeen years. Through thick and thin, although, anyone who’s seen her more recent pictures realize it more for thick than thin, as she never missed a meal. Not to hear her talk about it, though. A couple of cat tales come to mind. One time, it was summer and I was living in East Austin, and I was too cheap (broke) to keep the AC on. I had a lady friend over, and the cat, she hadn’t been out from underneath the couch in about three weeks. Other than, of course, to eat and use her litter box, but she did indicate her displeasure at my choice for thermostat settings by pointedly ignoring me and staying under the couch, which was the coolest place in the cheap apartment. Me and that girl, woman, whatever, we started necking on the couch, and by the time we made it to the diminutive bedroom, there was the cat, stretched out, across all four pillows, at the head of the bed. She stretched once, like it was her place.

There was another girlfriend, a Virgo, and whenever the cat heard that woman’s truck on the gravel for the trailer park’s drive, quick as lightening, that cat was under the bed and in full ignore for the duration of that woman’s visit. Can’t say animals aren’t a good judge of character.

There was one instance, with a Gemini, we were just sitting on the couch, and the cat hopped up, and plopped down between us. Put an end to that. First girlfriend’s rights, or something.

There was another, a Virgo, who was allergic to cats, so she said. That cat did manage to sleep curled around her rival’s head. Another Virgo who never returned.

Bubba and I picked up Sandy’s burgers one evening. His largest dog is bigger than me, I think, outweighed me at one time, anyway. The dog, not just Bubba. Either outweighed me. However, on that one night, the cat always had a certain fondness for Sandy’s burgers, and she was up on the couch, he glared at the cat, reminded the cat that he had a dog that outweighed either me or the cat, and still the cat mewled just right, and got herself a piece of the burger.

There’s been a variety of pet sitters, too. Towards the end, me and the cat had a special understanding. I would be gone for up to three days, and frequently, she never really missed me. Sometimes, I’d get home, and I’d swear, she never moved from the bed or the couch, for the whole time. Cold winter nights, though, she still curls up against my back. Gets upset if I move too early. Gives me “the look” and complains.

I’ve used a queen-sized bed for a dozen years or more. I have four pillows on it, two for me, two for the cat. Summer months, in other words, 9 months out of the year, doesn’t much matter. But for the coldest, winter months, that cat would sleep on the two pillows, right beside my head. I’ve long since learned it’s pointless to argue with women, even when I’m right, I’m still wrong.

One mythology suggests that there’s a heaven, and when we get there, all our pets come back to greet us. I’m not interested in seeing too many other pets, but that one cat? I’ll be glad to see her. Of course, she’ll just be on couch, flicking her tail at me, wondering if I brought burger, bacon or brisket.