Wake up and smell the routine
Christmas morning as a child – I’d be the first one up filled with excitement and anticipation. My parents, who I now realize had filled the role of Santa’s helpers by assembling and wrapping my gifts, probably had been in bed for just a couple of hours. Once they were awake, I was told to wait as they took their turns in the bathroom running a comb through their hair and a brush over their teeth. My mother, knowing photos would be taken, would put on a bit of makeup as I paced back and forth for what seemed like an eternity. Now at 64, I am reminded of this routine each morning by my cat.
Miss Trixie Delight (named after Madelyn Kahn’s character in the movie Paper Moon) and I have our morning routine. I know that she gets up during the night and roams through the house while I am asleep, but she returns to my bed when she knows it’s time for me to rise. Once I begin to move and stretch, my “big-boned girl” steps onto my chest with a thud. I greet her with “good morning” as she starts to purr.
I ask if she is ready to get up, knowing that she has been up for hours, and she prances back and forth. Then the magic words: “Let’s go” is all she needs to move from bed to night table and then down on to the floor as my legs come off the mattress. She times it perfectly so that my dangling bare feet can rub across her back as she moves to stretch out in front of the bathroom.
Finally on my feet, I shuffle towards the door and step over her. She then begins pacing back and forth, as I did as a child on Christmas morning. After waiting for me to flush and then brush my teeth and hair, we make our way to the kitchen.
As I pass through my dining room, I flip the switch for the light above my mother’s portrait and greet her with a “good morning” too. In the kitchen, Miss T. stands by her bowl full of food and whines for more. There is never a time that her bowl is empty, but it takes a sprinkle of fresh morsels to entice her to begin eating while I start the coffee maker.
From there we move into the sitting room as I turn on lamps along the way. She waits by the front door for me to go in and out as I collect the morning paper and then nestles down in front of the full-glass storm door watching the various neighborhood morning walkers, chipmunks and squirrels. She appears content as I read the paper and drink my coffee.
I know that she will be waiting at the back door for me when I come home at night, often with her favorite plaything, a shoelace. We each do our own thing in the evening unless I settle in to watch TV at which time she graces me by plopping down across my legs until they go numb. Later, when she feels it’s time for me to go to bed, she begins to pace. I swear, if she had a watch she’d be looking at it tapping the face to signal that it’s bedtime.
I finally obey and fall into my own ritual that ends with me on my knees thanking God for all of my blessings. As I crawl into bed, she moves in for a quick behind the ear rub before curling up against my side. I drift off to sleep with what sounds like a motorboat as she purrs contently. The next morning, we start all over again.
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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