On Thanksgiving morning in 2008, I said goodbye to a special friend of more than 19 years … my darling Alice Wanda.
Alice was a tiny little mouse-like critter when I adopted her in Indianapolis. Her Siamese mother had died before the kittens were weaned, and Alice was struggling for life. She moved into my new office on the 16th floor of Merchants Plaza, office of the newest Vice President at Simon Property Group. A heating pad and towels tucked into a wicker suitcase made a perfect home for her under my desk, and my secretary helped me feed her from a bottle for a couple of weeks!
We lived in a posh condo complex surrounded by lakes full of swans. Alice adored running across the living room and leaping onto the window ledge to watch the activity of these magnificent birds! One day, she hit the screen, it gave way, and she went flying down 1/2 a story into the soft grass below our windows. Yikes! As I looked out — I saw the big swans coming across the grass to investigate this “morsel”. I flew down the hall and made a dash down the stairs, ran around the building in time to scoop Alice up before the cantankerous swans got to her! What a close call.
As a tiny kitten, she liked to sit on the counter in the mornings while I put on lotion, makeup and perfume. I had a particular hair conditioner that was spritzed on — and the only time Alice ever meowed was when I was spritzing my hair! She adored having her own fur spritzed and would be busy grooming herself while I continued to dress for work.
My darling Alice had many quiet days in our Indy condo while I was busy with my career. She never seemed to mind. I could not wait to come home and find her sitting on the piano waiting for my special greeting. She loved our evenings of reading by the fire, or doing needlework “together”, or just curled up beside me on the piano bench while I played.
During vacation time and for holidays, Alice would tuck herself into a little basket in the front seat of our Porsche and zoom to Marietta for visits with the Georgia cats, Smitty, PeterRabbit and Hawaiian-born JennyAnyCat. And after five years of commuting, we moved back home to Georgia where life took a giant upheaval for us.
Through all the agonies of divorce, Alice lay beside me and licked tears from my face, purring all the while. After cancer surgery, I was comforted by a black purring ball of fur that spent her days in bed with me. Alice slept on the book shelves in my new little ‘office’ in the spare room — and as business grew and we took over the lower level of Hill House for a studio, she took up residence on the office sofa. When her precious little life drew to a close, I laid her to rest in a shady spot out by the bird feeder with a little marble headstone nestled in the ivy. Now chipmunks scamper across her grave collecting all the seeds dropped by the birds, and I like to think that she enjoys this.
Nineteen years is a long time to have such a friend and companion. I am reminded of Rod McKuen’s poem, “Sloopy”. Perhaps Alice “was the only other human thing that gave back love to me”.