This is a trivial story with a happy ending. It is meant to be no more than that, just a flower poking from the caked ground that the world seems to be today. Sometimes that’s all you get, and it’s important to be grateful.
At an art and wine festival back in the 20th century, I ran across a vendor selling decorative tiles and house numbers. The deal was that if you bought the appropriate numbers for your house and the decorative tiles – showing flowers, animals, more than I can remember now – the vendor would put them together into a wooden frame that you could hang on the front of your house.
Among the tiles the vendor was selling were representations of both an orange tabby cat and a black-and-white cat. Our first cats were an orange tabby named Tuxedo and a black-and-white cat named Fluffy. So of course I paid the money and soon had an indication on the front of our first townhouse that we were proud owners of two rascally felines.
We outgrew the townhouse and its confining backyard, and did something that still seems rather silly: we packed up all of our belongings and moved them less than a mile away, except to a bigger house that had more room for more cats. We moved everything except the house numbers, which I never thought of taking down from the front of the garage. But the woman who bought the townhouse from us didn’t think about taking them down either, and whenever we passed by, we could see the images of our beloved kitties still guarding their first home.
More time passed.
The woman who bought the townhouse moved away. Having been in our “new house” more than ten years, we decided it was time to paint the exterior. But the trim color we chose was dark, and the house numbers we had were almost indistinguishable. In the hopes of finding the equivalent to the cat tiles on our townhouse, I took to the Internet, without success.
The name of that art-and-wine festival vendor was lost to history. I felt thwarted, until I remembered that the original tiles I’d bought were still less than a mile away … assuming the new owner hadn’t thought about them anymore than the two previous owners. I drove back to the old townhouse.
And that’s when serendipity reigned. It was mid-afternoon, but the new owner was there waiting for the phone repairman. He recognized my name because junk mail of ours still arrived in his mailbox. I told him that I’d be happy to buy him new house numbers if I could have the old ones, and he said, “My wife hates cats. Let me get new house numbers, and then you can have the old ones.” It was one of those things that was apparently just meant to be.
So eleven years after we moved away, and even more years after I first found the tiles, I bought new house numbers and asked my far-more-talented-at-woodworking-than-me brother-in-law to fashion a new wooden frame for the tiles on the “new house.” And there they hang today.
Though Tuxedo and Fluffy have long ago gone to the Rainbow Bridge, their images still guard the entrance to our home, just as they did so many years ago.