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Having an outside cat like Morris means that he often brings something home from time to time. Many times in the last few months, Iíve found remnants of his nocturnal activities on the front sidewalk or in the back yard. Birds, mice, and furry bits of I donít know what are some of the less than pleasant remnants of his hunting expeditions. Usually I bury it all in the small woods of my back yard, sure to be away from our avid hunter so he doesnít resurrect his past victories. (Itís a hassle, yes, but how can you stop his instincts from kicking in?)
So it was no surprise the other day, as I walked my dog Pepper, that I spied Morris traipsing across the courtyard with a larger than usual something in his mouth. To my alarm, it was a very much still alive bunny rabbit, a baby obviously, and Morris just kept motoring along. With Pepper at the end of a very taut leash, there wasnít much I could do to stop him as Morris headed straight for the safety and privacy behind the bushes and then, just as quickly, made a beeline for the neighborís fence. I spied on him through the crack of the fence and he seemed delighted to put on a show for me, batting his trophy around, toying with the poor little guy before the final sentence was passed. I had enough time to go in the house and notify my wife of the gruesome show outside; we looked out on him from the bedroom window for a short time as we decided what to do.
But just that quickly, Morris decided to leave that yard and come back to ours. And where did he end up? Oh, in a bit of pride he must have had, he decided to bring his prize to our deck. Imagine how pleased they will be when they see what Iíve brought them! Yes, he brought the bunny up the steps and put him right outside the patio door. Then he sat back, as if to await our accolades upon his ability to hunt. But Mr. Bunny, as my oldest, Adrianne soon dubbed him, wasnít gone yet; that was the part that made us all uneasy. I think it better to spare the particular details, so suffice it to say that the little guy just lay there, helpless as could be. My wife, always a true friend to animals, retrieved an old shoebox from the garage, insisting that, though it might be a lost cause for Mr. Bunny (and it sure looked that way), she wasnít going to sit idly by and have Morris finish the job. By this time, my daughters had become aware of the situation and soon a death watch was established on the deck after Morris was herded inside the house.
If the girls had been quite a bit younger, say 7 or 8, I might have better understood their actions; after all, isnít that what young children have done for generations, championing sick and infirm creatures, instilling their hopes and love in a multitude of lost causes, of lame puppies, of birds fallen from their nests, of motherless kittens, of lone eggs found in the grass? I could not have been more surprised and moved by their gentleness and willingness to ease the suffering of a lost little creatureís last hours. Adrianne always was partial to rabbits anyway, but their exceptional kindness touched me in ways that helped alleviate somewhat the mixed feelings I was having about our Morris. And with this coming in their middle teen-age years, where they are stereotypically supposed to be as jaded and distant and troublesome as possible, gave me pause, that perhaps, my wife and I had done something right in their upbringing. The girls sat for a long time on the deck, Mr. Bunnyís box between them at the table. Adrianne kept playing various musical ringtones from her cell phone; her explanation was that the music was to soothe Mr. Bunnyís last hours. I doubt that Coldplay or 50 Cent ever intended those music snippets to be used in that manner, and Iím skeptical about the so-called soothing effect this really had, but I appreciated that she wanted to be with him. They stroked his fur and murmured soft somethings only he could hear. This was kindness and love at its finest hour; I couldnít have been prouder of my girls at that moment.
As expected, Mr. Bunny didnít make it through the night. We had a burial of sorts the next morning. I led the procession, shovel in hand. Without any pretense or conceit, the girls, acting as pallbearers, flanked the cardboard shoebox, each walking in step with the other in the traditional manner. At the burial site, Adrianne said the final words, ďHe was a good bunny.Ē And then, very carefully, they gently wrapped the cloth diaper that had cushioned him in his final hours, around his little body before placing him in his final resting place. Mr. Bunny was finally at peace.
David Galassie's work has appeared in numerous online venues, to include Rewind the Fifties, A Long Story Short, and The Preservation Foundation's Writers Showcase and he has also been published in traditional magazines such as Good Old Days Specials and Reminisce. His essays appear in the anthologies: Flashlight Memories from Silver Boomer Books, Heartscapes, from Spruce Mountain Press, and Hey Kids, Comics!: True-Life Tales From the Spinner Rack from ComicMix . In 2012, he wrote Menasha, a local history book about his boyhood hometown in Wisconsin, published by Arcadia Publishing (https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9780738591780/Menasha). In April 2018, Arcadia will release Neenah and Menasha: Twin Cities of the Fox Valley, a postcard history of Menasha and its sister city. His internet blog has featured Menasha history and trivia since 2012 (http://menashabook.blogspot.com). He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he is, by day, a mild-mannered human resources specialist.
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