Our faithful old kitty cat, Patches, died some time late in the night. That’s him in a picture that’s the background for my cell phone. it perfectly illustrates for me his curious and inquisitive nature.

We got Patches when “The Boy” was in the second grade. “The Boy” is 21 now.

I was on the way to pick up the lovely and gracious “Mrs. Just Charlie” and “The Boy” from school one afternoon, and I saw a sign advertising “free kittens” at a house on the way. So I stopped, and the runt of the litter was the only one left. I had an empty copier-toner carton in the car, and that box was Patches’s first home. I’ll never forget the look of delight in a second-grader’s eyes, as he got in the car at school, and saw that little black-and-white furball in the box. We went to McDonald’s, where I proceeded to feed Patches with a carton of milk and a straw.

“The Boy” named him “Patches” because of that black patch over one eye. He moved with us ten years ago, and watching him learn to negotiate stairs was a real treat. He’s been really lethargic for a while, and all summer long, we just kind of felt that the end was near. Well, some time in the night, he negotiated those stairs for the last time, and we found him in our dining room.

“The Boy” cried, the lovely and gracious “Mrs. Just Charlie” cried, and there may have been a little dust in my own eyes as well.

No more kitty cat alarm clocks at 4:30 a.m. No more funny and delightful pictures. No more chasing stuff around. No more playing with the strangest things – like the yellow string out of a jacket orĀ  those rings from the top of a gallon of milk. No more head bumps in the night. No more wrapping around our heads, purring in the bed.

He was a good ol’ kitty cat…and we miss him already.