My husband paused the television show we were watching to read an email he’d received on his phone.
It was from Nick, his former student, who had taken our cat, Bacon, to live with him a few years ago.
“Bacon’s gone,” my husband said, and I immediately thought he meant missing, but he didn’t.
Nick had found Bacon on the side of a road, lifeless, although he didn’t have any obvious injuries.
Nick wrote that his wife had cried all afternoon when he told her he’d buried Bacon.
I cried, too, sad to lose a special cat that had been part of our lives.
My younger son, now 19, found the skinny, short-haired black cat with a stub of a tail one summer about eight years ago when we were hiking a trail in Mayflower.
The cat followed us meowing, and Scott picked it up. I said no, several times.
We were both allergic to cats, I reasoned.
But the poor thing did look skinny, and he was in the middle of nowhere in 100-degree heat, so I gave in.
I tried to give this cat away. I put an ad in the paper, and I got a few calls.
One woman was sure it was her missing cat, and I was standing in the yard, waving Bacon’s little paw at her when she drove up. Nope. It wasn’t her cat.
By then, he’d charmed us. Put a spell on us, that black cat.
He had his ways. My husband was his favorite. He rode like a parrot on my husband’s shoulder. Bacon would meow, and my husband, 6-3, would bend slightly and Bacon would jump from the chair, or bed, or flat-footed from the floor onto his shoulder.
Bacon loved climbing ladders and eating the dregs of my husband’s morning oatmeal.
Sometimes Bacon ate bacon — cannibalism, my son would say.
A friend of my son’s took a sniff of the cat when we brought him home and said, “He smells like bacon.” The name stuck.
He was the friendliest cat I’ve ever seen. Most people loved him.
Once we had a garage sale, and that cat got rubbed and petted and picked up by dozens of people, and he just lapped it up.
A couple regularly walked by our house, pulling their little boy in a wagon. They always stopped to see Bacon.
“His first word was kitty,” the woman told me about her son.
Bacon was almost perfect, but he had one big flaw. We had him “fixed.” Alas, it was too late.
We watched him like a hawk in the house, but he’d back up to the TV, or couch, or wall to mark his territory. We’d yell; he’d run in a streak of black.
He was just being a cat, but we would get upset as if it were a character flaw.
Sadly, we knew he had to go.
My husband found a student whose family lived on a 60-acre farm.
It was a match made in heaven. Bacon was a hunter. He brought more dead animals to our door than I could count.
He thrived in his freedom.
This student and his family fell in love with Bacon, too.
He rode on their shoulders. He rubbed and played and romped on their farm. He walked on two-by-four trusses in the shop, climbed ladders and looked down on his kingdom.
This student got married, and guess who came to the wedding? The couple posted photos from their wedding on Facebook — there was the beautiful bride, holding Bacon.
I thought he’d live to a ripe old age.
Bacon survived a lot, including once getting closed in the top of the garage door for 45 minutes, which separated his pelvis and made him walk funny for a while.
My older son got the news and posted on Facebook: “I may lose my man card for this, but I’m sad about losing a cat.”
Bacon touched a lot of lives in all nine of his.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.