A humor column is by design or by
accident supposed to be funny.
We associate humor with laughter, with
smiles and hopefully an occasional
guffaw. Oddly, though, one of
the definitions of "Humor me" is "to
In today's story "soothe" is the
Last week I lost a precious friend.
It wasn't a family member or a pal I'd
known a long time. Instead, it
was a little gray stray cat with a
broken tail, a bent back, a scarred
eye, and a missing tooth. Her
name was Missy. I never saw her,
I never held her, I never petted her
furry coat. We lived a continent
apart and before I could even hold
her, she died. And I am bereft.
Missy belonged to my best friend, Dee,
who lives in Arizona. Because
Dee is disabled by an incurable and
largely untreatable disease,
Sarcoidosis, this stray cat who came
fortuitously into her life took on the
dimensions of a near-human friend and
companion. It was through Dee
that I learned to love Missy.
Last year Dee staged a birthday party
for her stray cat at Epoch Assisted
Living Center, a posh retirement home
in Sun City West, Arizona. I
laughed. I thought it was a
hoot. But the residents at Epoch
had grown to love Missy during Dee's
frequent visits to her mother who
resides at this facility. So
many residents showed up for the
birthday celebration and the large
birthday cake which was served, that
Dee scheduled a tenth birthday party
for Missy this spring. The
spacious living room was overflowing
Missy primly wore a lace collar and
posed proudly for a newspaper
photographer. Party-goers were
given packs of Lifesavers wrapped with
a colorful printed message from Missy.
Slices of birthday cake were served to
the residents. An accomplished
guitarist provided special music.
A certificate, naming Missy "Arizona
Cat of the Year" was delivered.
Roses were presented to Dee and her
caring, elderly mother, Mary, who had
found this lonely stray cat ten years
ago in her garage in Casper, Wyoming
and took her by plane to Dee's
residence in Arizona where she was
given a warm welcome and a loving
After Missy's first birthday party,
Dee and I decided to self-publish
"Missy's Mewspaper" a tongue-in-cheek
newspaper for cat lovers as seen
through the eyes of a cat. It
was an instant success. Missy,
as editor-in-chief, wrote an "Advice
to the Lovelorn" column, reported
imaginative and humorous cat events
held throughout the nation, featured a
Literary Section of original poetry by
Missy, a classified ad page, Health,
Education and Church pages, an Op-Ed
page, and a Society page which
detailed Missy's engagement and
pending marriage to Snuggs Buggalug, a
make-believe tom cat who ultimately
disappointed Missy enough that she
gave him the proverbial boot.
Four or five editions of Missy's
Mewspaper were made available to Epoch
residents who eagerly mailed copies to
family and friends in virtually every
state in the country. Missy had
When I added Missy's Mewspaper to my
own "Humor Me" web site, she became
known worldwide. With links to
many other cat sites, Missy's web page
brought visitors from over thirty
foreign countries as well as every
part of the United States. The
postings in my web site Guest book
were full of accolades citing Missy's
antics, her humor, her foibles, and
above all, her sweet, cunning nature.
It became difficult to separate the
real Missy from the personality Dee
and I had developed for her and
indeed, there was no need: Missy was
the Missy of Missy's Mewspaper.
Two weeks ago, Dee noticed with alarm
several protruding lumps on Missy's
tummy. Missy's trusted veterinarian,
Dr. Tom Leber, confirmed that Missy
was invaded with a very aggressive
form of cancer. With little
warning and with virtually no
preparation for those of us who loved
Missy, she laid her head down and
submitted quietly to the inevitable.
When I posted "In Memoriam: A Tribute
To Missy" on my web page recounting
her sudden death, people from all over
the world responded. Most of
them I didn't know but they'd
regularly visited my web site to learn
of Missy's most recent adventures.
All were shocked and saddened by her
For Dee, it is a much larger issue.
Her house is quiet. Missy isn't
there to open the window blinds with
her large paw or to push stuffed
animals from the shelves of the
entertainment center. Missy
isn't asleep in the linen closet.
Missy isn't begging for a can of Kitty
Kaviar. And hardest of all, Missy
isn't curled up in Dee's arms under
the covers at night, providing comfort
and love and nurturing to a dear,
disabled woman whose love for that
little stray cat has become legend.
Will there be pets in heaven?
Billy Graham was asked that question
and his compassionate answer was,
"I believe God will provide whatever
it takes to make us happy in heaven
and for that reason I believe, yes,
there will be pets in heaven."