This blog entry was written in November 2006 after my mom’s uncle Jimmy died. I had a special relationship with him…he was the only person who could see my imaginary cat, Skinny! One might wonder why I’m resurrecting this old blog from five years ago. Well, Skinny has never really left my thoughts but he’s no longer an imaginary friend. I’ve not shared this publicly with most folks, but the tales (or is it tails?) of Skinny are the topic of the children’s book I hope to write sometime soon. I recently shared about the book on Facebook but didn’t say too much of what it was about. Thought I’d share that here. Oh, in case you’re wondering why this post has no picture….it’s about an imaginary cat, remember? Just pick a corner of the page and pretend he’s there!
Here’s the blog from November 2006 (from my MySpace blog, which has since been destroyed):
Guess Skinny Will Have to Come Live with Me
Skinny was a good cat. Too skinny for his own good, hence his name. At various times he had various problems from getting patches of his fur gone to just being a bass awkwards ugly feline. Skinny was a trustworthy friend who was there with me through some scary times in my young life as I faced lots of surgeries, etc.
Skinny was often my best friend through the years and I loaned him to only one person who was very special to me. Skinny is alive somewhere in my memory but the person that was trusted with his care is gone.
Skinny was an imaginary cat but the person that would make believe with me the most that he was real was very much a real friend.
Uncle Jimmy died yesterday. My fond memories of Skinny center around Uncle Jimmy coming to visit and we would share tales of this scruffy, unbeatable cat. Uncle Jimmy lived in Tampa, Fla. for as long as I can remember and it was always big fun every Christmas time when he would come to Wichita. He would spend the actual Christmas holiday with his son in Kansas City then drive down to spend New Years with our extended family.
Uncle Jimmy was not what most consider an educated man. He quit school in the eighth grade when his father died to take care of the family. He was, after all, the oldest son and it was his duty. (He later got his GED.) He worked and took care of his siblings. I’m not sure if his older sister, Aunt Betty, was old enough to be gone from home yet or not. I think she was. That left a mother (Susie Mama) that had to be protected and Uncle Jimmy’s twin plus the baby, Uncle Robert. Uncle Jimmy’s twin, my mother’s mother, was named Jamie. It was James and Jamie. I obviously was named after her, which is partly why I think Uncle Jimmy always doted on me extra special like.
Later on I am almost positive he joined the Navy. I wish I knew more about his time then, but I was never smart enough to ask I guess.
When Uncle Jimmy would visit he’d crack every joke imaginable and tease us kids but it was never mean. He paid me a quarter a foot for rubbing his sweaty-socked feet.
He and I would talk about Skinny all the time. We never knew where that cat would turn up. If I was sad and needed him the joke was that Uncle Jimmy would send him on the wing of a plane from Florida. No wonder the poor cat was losing its hair if we treated it like that! But this cat, like my Uncle Jimmy was not always there but was always nearby if I needed him. I realized later on in my life that my mind made Skinny to be somewhat of an outcast in life because that’s how I felt. Skinny wasn’t normal, I wasn’t normal yet Uncle Jimmy loved us anyways.
Many years have gone by since he and I talked often of our dear friend Skinny. That changed briefly when I had gastric bypass surgery. I could admit to Uncle Jimmy that I was scared and he loaned me Skinny again. I am old enough now to not need Skinny’s memory in the operating room with me again but I feel it was Uncle Jimmy’s way of telling me his thoughts were with me. Me loaning the cat to Uncle Jimmy I guess was my way of letting him know I was thinking of him.
Uncle Jimmy was a lifetime smoker and he had emphysema. I wanted him to have Skinny there with him when he had to start using oxygen so much. I know he had to be scared even though the man never said so. I think it was that and just old age that finally killed him.
Guess Skinny will have to get on his own plane wing to come live with me. Good thing he’s an imaginary cat, I’m not allowed to have pets in my apartment.