Sunday, October 4, 2020

Buddy and the Last Great Chase

"I think I'm dying," I confided to my editor.

"What?! Why?" she wanted to know.

"Because I'm having a really productive writing season. This might be my last gasp."

She wasn't having it. Not any of it. 

"Please let me explain," I said. 

And I told her about Buddy the cat.

Buddy, an orange tabby, became my parents' house cat after a hardscrabble start in a litter behind the barn. 

Buddy grew into a well-fed member of the household, but he kept his hunting prowess intact, occasionally depositing a dead chipmunk at the back door for all to admire.

For the most part, though, Buddy was domesticated. Pampered. Neither affectionate nor mean, Buddy just blended in. Other than a chin scratch now and then, he kept to himself, alternately sleeping and staring out the front window.

He did develop a fondness for Morgan, my great-niece, and the two of them were pals through all the years and seasons.

When Buddy grew quite elderly and thin, Morgan began to grieve. 

That's when he surprised us all with a final hunting tour that netted dozens of chipmunks.

Buddy would hunker down in the back yard and wait patiently, pouncing with precision and skill. Those critters thought they could outsmart Buddy, but they didn't stand a chance.

Not that summer.

His last summer.

One day he stopped eating. He became weaker. My folks noticed he would drink water, but he was not interested in food. His singular mission, day after day, was to vanquish the chipmunk population in the entire county. Hell bent and spring-loaded, Buddy piled up the chippies like little trophies, there on the back porch.

It was weird; that cat was enjoying his most productive season as a hunter. He was wasting away physically, but he had the stamina of a young feline on the prowl. 

It was a good run. Another chippie, another victory lap.

This went on for most of that summer.

And then he died.

Morgan was beside herself - it was hard to watch her mourn, after seeing the two of them grow up together.

"So this is why I think maybe I'm dying," I explained, after I told the story of Buddy the cat.

"I'm somehow cranking out a blog a day for my work."

"Basically I'm bringing chipmunks to the back door and it's been a really good run.

I must be at the end," I lamented.

There was laughter on the other end of the phone line.


She thought the analogy was a real stretch. When she came up for air, she said, "When you write something, it should not be viewed as an ending. It's an arrival. Just keep going on that journey."

I'm not at the end, I'm at the threshold.

I'm not Buddy-the-chipmunk-slayer. 

I'm Kathy, the word-chaser.

I chase after words and I carry them to the door, hoping upon hope I can write them down and give them to a reader who needs them.

Poor sweet old Buddy. He had a job to do and he did it like a champion. Even at an age when nobody thought he had it in him.

I think I'll learn from his blazing exit, and from my editor's sage advice: Keep showing up. Find the words; wait for them and pounce with precision and skill.

Write them down.

Wake up tomorrow. And do it all over again.

Kathy Joy, wordsmith, event speaker

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kathy - can you see me smiling? I found your story about Buddy’s last gasp very sweet! But I’m siding with your Editor! Your daily outpouring is the work of a young and healthy mind and spirit. Yes, your output is high but you are handling the writing with grace and style. Don’t give in to superstition or doubt! Keep loving what you’re doing. It shows and it will carry you a very long way! Love, Claudia