On the 12th of November we drove straight through from St. Chuck, IL, to Alexander, N.C.   I had the cats in my vehicle and followed John in his blissfully cat-free truck.  Amos and Rascal meowed from an hour west of Chicago to an hour south of Indianapolis, despite the liberal use of a kitty-calming cheek pheromone spray.  (For those of you not in the know, kitties rub their cheeks on corners and edges and furniture where they are comfortable and at peace.  This rubbing releases “I’m okay” pheromones which, when captured and concentrated in aerosol form, lulls kitties into a state of happiness.)  It worked, for the most part.  

After 4 hours, they either resigned themselves to their fate, or they shut up to keep me from spraying anymore of that shit in the car.   Every time I gave a shot of it over my shoulder toward the rear of my vehicle, it instantly sucked into the ventilation system until it permeated my very soul.  It wasn’t horrible smelling… it just got OLD after a while.  Our Rascal doesn’t talk much, but long about Lafayette he was so quiet I began to worry he was dead.  I began to think about how I would break the news to his Daddy, for he is a Daddy’s cat.  My boy, Amos went from a consistent “I know you’re taking me to the vet to kill me” level of crying to an occasional soft “merow” every 20 minutes or so.  I found myself desiring to kill a mouse.

I rejoiced when we crossed the state line from Tennessee into North Carolina.  (Unfortunately, rejoicing activates cats.)  As we made the last 45 minutes of the drive, a beautiful full moon rose up over the deep blue of the mountains, and purple shadows spread along the folds in the hills like watercolor.  It was beautiful.  We finally arrived, 12 hours after we began, all tired, really glad to be out of the car! 

The cats were even more terrified when released into their new home.  They paced and meowed for two days and two nights and kept us up.  Since then, we have taken little walks around the yard and the boys are more relaxed, although they won’t leave the porch without us.  They have sniffed every inch of the little barn and tack room, the canning shed, the animal trails through the garden.  They sniffed the foundation of the house, the front walk, the back walk, the door frames.  They have sniffed the furniture, the floors, the heat vents, the deck.  Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff.  They sniffed the driveway and the tires on our vehicles.  They aren’t done yet, but there are little joyful runs and leaps between bouts of sniffing now.

So here we are, 2 weeks later, somewhat settled in.  I started my new job managing Jack of Hearts Pub in Weaverville.  (An absolute BLAST, by the way.)  John has since made the trip to Illinois and back a second time.  More recently, the family and a few close friends gathered the day before Thanksgiving to toast my late brother John and to spread some of his ashes.  We had shots of Jameson’s and the sunset that evening was spectacular, as though John had something to do with it.  Major sob fest, but healing in a way.  We sent up a paper hot air balloon with loves notes on it.  We managed Thanksgiving without tears, and even had some laughs. 

My boss at Jack of Hearts is having a bar stool engraved with the words John Ward’s Chair.  Every day, people come in and say hello and tell me how they knew John and give me hugs.  It’s pretty cool.  Weaverville has welcomed us with open hearts and open arms.  I am thankful.

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6 Comments on “Thankful”

  1. Elaine Madden Says:

    So happy and sad for you at the same time – but I know your decision to move to North Carolina has started the healing process for you and your family…and Amos and Rascal are going to be fine!!



  2. Laura Hill Says:

    Nice, Mary:)



  3. Jennifer Richardsonjennspeak Says:

    Bravo to you, braveheart…..cheering wildly in your corner for you
    and John
    and the cats
    and this next chapter.
    Loving the way you’re living out your love
    for brother and family.
    Brilliant, Mary.
    Big cheers,



  4. David Says:

    Cool! I knew that you would be fine. I am also trusting that this new veture is going t
    To be a fun ride. Take care!

    David W



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