Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pets of Christmas Past

by Jeffe Kennedy

One of the great drawbacks of these "historical" topics, like this week's theme of childhood pets, is that I suffer from the lack of access to photos. I can picture the photo albums in the living room armoire in my mother's house in Denver and the exact pictures I would show you.

Then I start thinking, for the umpteenth time, how I *really* need to get after digitizing all those photographs.

You can picture those old photographs, from the 60s, barely in color, square with those white borders around the edges. There's the one of me peering at a jack o'lantern with our kitty, Punky, sitting nearby. My dad grins with a hand on Shadow, the Weimaraner, who figures prominently in my early childhood stories. How I learned to walk by pulling myself up on patient Shadow. How my mother would send Shadow to find me if she couldn't spot me in the yard. Shadow always knew. After my dad died when I was three, and we went to live at my grandmother's house in Denver, and Shadow knocked an enormous bowl of spaghetti with marinara over on her kitchen carpet, Shadow went back to live with my North Carolina grandparents. The photo I would show you is one taken by their back garden gate, with Shadow gazing up in soulful concern. It feels like a betrayal that I don't really have any of my own memories of him.

Punky, though - short for Pumpkin - a cranky, marmalade cat lived with us for many long years. When I was seven, Stormy came to live with us. My mom gave her to me for Christmas. A particularly blizzardy Christmas, which is how Stormy got her name. She was my best pal and companion, and lived until I was in grad school in my mid-twenties. I'd show you that picture, too - me in my velvet Christmas dress, my hair up in a bun, and the utter, ecstatic delight on my face as my mom set the kitten in my lap.

I still remember the joyful surprise of that moment.

Those pets gave way to other cats and dogs. All companions to various stages of my life. Their affection is constant. Their simple pleasure in living provides a constant reminder of the daily small events that form the fabric of our lives.

Love to you all.


  1. Hey, we had a pretty calico cat named Pumpkin when I was little, as well.
    Amusingly, my Dad, while home-bound recovering from hip surgery, was bored enough that he went through and digitized most of our old slide collection, so I don't have to.

  2. Funny coincidence, Kev! And also amusing that I was considering siccing Stepdad Dave on this very project...

  3. What a lovely tribute to Punky and Shadow! "Teach human child to walk" was tasked to our family dogs too.

  4. I wonder how many human children have learned to walk via endlessly patient pooch? More than we can repay, I suspect.

  5. Oh, this is a lovely post! I love your conjuring of old photos.

  6. Thank you, Carolyn! While my mother agreed it was lovely, she also declared herself uninterested in scanning in all those pics. Still contemplating that one...

  7. Aww, poor Shadow. Your stories of your pets are awesome, Jeffe. Thanks so much for sharing them. If I lived closer to Denver, I'd find a way to scan those photos for you.

  8. Hey - it's not a long drive from Denver to your place, B.E. They could totally come to you! ;-)