"Anytime!" I replied enthusiastically to my nephew's wife.
Mike and Fretzie are from the Illinois branch of my family and had never been here before, so it would be a real treat to see them. We arranged for a visit the next day at 3:00. I just knew that Ray would be excited to meet his cousin's family of four boys and a girl.
They arrived just after three. I put Ray on a leash and took him out to greet them as they piled out of the minivan. I was caught totally by surprise at how well behaved Ray was; right up until the moment that he realized there was a little girl amongst the bunch of boys. Once in the house, Ray tracked her down and gave her an overenthusiastic Ray-greeting, including nibbles, hair-eating, and licks. Ezri, who is a fearless five-year-old, and apparently smells remarkably like a raccoon, sought refuge on the back of Ray's chair behind a protective wall of her big brothers: Miko, Vincent, Kai, and Quentin, and her mom, Fretzie. Ray tracked his little prey to her 'tree' and paced and yelled excitedly. After a bit of uncontrolled chaos, Ezri convinced him with stern commands to "sit" and "flop" that she was, indeed, a human.
With all his cousins there, Ray was overwhelmed with attention and going in ten different directions at once. He showed them how to use the treat ball; how to sit, flop, and shake; and how to play with a hex bug without letting it touch his lips. In return he received lots of free food.
After the humans chatted, went out to dinner, and played with remote control dog toys, things were winding down.
"Can I look upstairs?" asked Ezri.
"Sure," I replied, unconcerned.
Two minutes later, Ezri was back, her eyes positively snapping with excitement.
"I saw the cat!" she exclaimed, "Can I touch it?"
"Let's go see," I said, wondering how Moonie would handle having her space invaded by a little girl.
Ezri and I headed up the stairs followed by all the boys and Ray. I had underestimated the size of the crowd interested in the old cat. Ezri went directly for old Miss Pie who was eying her warily from her bed.
I kept a close eye on the little girl as she touched Moonie gently on the head then turned to me and said, thrilled, "I've never touched a cat before."
Ray was trying to climb up on the bed. Instead of his usual leap to the top of the mattress, he lifted a back foot, trying to get purchase on the edge to hoist himself up but couldn't quite get a good grip. As he tried again, I reached a hand down and slipped it under his back foot, stirrup-like. Using me as leverage, Ray hauled his body up and settled down in the middle of the bed, determined to get his share of attention. The boys obliged.
"Moonie is deaf," I said to the assembled crowd.
"You have a blind dog and a deaf cat," said Vincent, "You should get a hamster that can't smell."
"You mean to round out the menagerie?" I asked with a laugh.
While Ray soaked up the attention from his boy cousins, and I fielded dozens of questions, Moonie was getting a little anxious at the attention from her girl cousin. Ezri, whose entire being was vibrating with excitement, had climbed up on the bed and was petting the old cat. Although Ezri was being gentle enough, Moonie nervously edged away. Ezri followed. Moonie edged away again. Ezri followed.
Deciding she'd had enough, Moonie jumped down off the bed and tottered from the room. Excitedly, Ezri jumped down also.
"She wants me to chase her!" Ezri exclaimed.
I laughed and watched as she tripped down the hall in gentle pursuit.
A moment later, she was back.
"She went under the bed," said Ezri disappointed.
Just then, I saw Moonie heading back to her room. She had forgotten why she had left in the first place. The old cat took one look at the crowd and turned to jog away again, but not before she had been spied by the little girl.
"She wants me to chase her again!" said Ezri as she started down the hall.
A moment later, Ezri was back.
"She went behind the chair," said my great niece.
The scenario repeated. Once again, the old cat had forgotten why she had left her room, only to be reminded as soon as she returned. Once again, the excited girl followed her down the hall, only to be thwarted when the old cat ducked under the furniture.
"Let's go downstairs and let Moonie rest," I said as we all trooped from the room; the boys and Ray
followed by me and a still-excited Ezri.
"Can we stay here?" asked Moonie's new friend.
"Sure," I replied, "But you'll have to sleep with Moonie."
Not sure if I was serious or not, Ezri gave it a moment's thought, then declined.
Thankfully oblivious, Moonie had no idea how close she had come to gaining a new roommate.
|I think you guys should move in. |
Ezri can sleep with Moonie and you all can sleep with me.
(Ray and -from back to front- Miko, Kai, and Vincent.
Ezri with Moonie in background)
|Who are these people?????|
(Moonie with Vincent and Ezri)
|Are you sure you wouldn't like to move in? |
I have a futon that's pretty comfortable.
(Ray with Miko)
|Y'know they didn't used to let me in here,|
but now that Hugo is gone, I can come in anytime I want.
(sigh) I kinda miss him though.
(Ray with Kai and Ezri)
|Don't tell anybody, but this is where my bone is buried. Right here.|
|This is my dream family. |
A whole bunch of boys and one raccoon.
(oh, yeah, and my dad)
[Ray, Ezri, Mike, Miko, Kai, Gregg, and Vincent]
What do you mean I'm a raccoon?????