Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? There’s more than one answer. Sometimes it is both.
For eighteen years, a gray striped curmudgeon named Dandy Lion graced our home with his unique presence. We traveled many a mile together, figuratively and literally. I could paint a picture in thousands of words with all the adventures good old DL and I experienced, but that is another story. After Dandy died, my young son asked, “Mom, would it be silly to pray for another cat?” You can guess the answer to that one.
Ten years before, I had received a lovely print of a print of a gorgeous longhaired white cat. Whoever painted it captured the elegance and beauty of what appeared to be a Turkish Angora. The only thing visible was the face and ruff and wistful green eyes, and one pale pink rosebud near the bottom.
I found an old frame at a yard sale. It was perfect for my beautiful cheap artwork. I had never seen a cat exactly like that one, nor the serenity in his expression the artist had captured so well.
Several months after dear Dandy’s demise my mother called to say she needed to drop by. She had just arrived home from a 500-mile trip to visit her sister and sounded like she had a secret she couldn’t wait to share. When she walked in she was carrying an old, soft pajama top. I don’t mind hand-me-downs, but this one looked a little ragged. She presented it to me as if it were an award. When I reached out, I felt something small and warm and wiggly. A tiny white head peeked at me. He had two bright green eyes and weighed about a pound. He quickly made himself right at home.
She told me my cousin had come out of the corner grocery to find this little darling under her car. She already had enough pets and took it to my Aunt Sarah’s where Mother was quick to claim it for me.
The adorable, little guy stuck to me as if he had been sent on a mission. As he matured and grew, I began to notice something astounding. He looked exactly like the decade old picture in the used frame. The Vet agreed he was most likely from the Turkish Angora gene pool.
When a serious back injury relegated me to a pallet on the floor for a week, that sweet natured kitty stayed right beside me. Mother brought food for me on a tray and put his little dish close by. In the night, when I would moan in pain, I could feel the pressure of a small pink padded paw on my arm. He acted more like a dog in his obvious empathy.
A few years later, when his person was weeping nightly from a desperately broken heart, that exquisite little ball of fur was always there, as close as he could get, and always with one paw touching my arm. Once, I stopped crying and said out loud, “Who are you--really?” That was enough to make myself giggle at the absurdity and for him to purr as if he understood the silliness.
That portrait come-to-life is over twelve years old now and suffers in his hips when the weather changes. He loves to curl up next to the dog, even when she smells like…well, like a dog. He has accepted two other cats with no malice and tries his best to wash their faces when they don’t seem to do the job to suit him. He wouldn’t know a mouse it if slapped him on his whiskers -- that simply is not his thing -- but he still seems to realize when an aching heart needs the warmth of a kitty cuddle.
It may be a stretch for some, but to me, receiving a lovely print of a beautiful pet I could never afford, and then being presented with the exact real-life replica, was more than a coincidence. Our Lord is concerned with every desire or need, even the prayers of a little boy asking for just the right cat, and of a woman alone.
I have often wished I could depict his classy countenance on canvas, that pose he strikes exactly like the cat in the painting with that faraway look in his mysterious green eyes. Then I remember, a real artist already has and it is framed and hangs on a wall down the hall.
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