It has been about two weeks since What's-Her-Name's made her last bony appearance at the cats' breakfast. Q has devoted considerable effort to searching for her, but I know that she will not appear. People die as they live, and that cat is an independent thinker. What's-Her-Name is not going to enjoy a final cuddle and request hospice care at the vet now, please. She's one of those cats who will go off on her own and find a place to lay herself down. What's-Her-Name will always be hard to pin down.
"I think she's gone home to Jesus," I tell Q. "Of course, I've been wrong before. She could still show up."
"Or Jesus could send her back," he says. "Thinking she can do more good here."
"Less evil, anyway," I say, thinking of the time she knocked an entire apple pie to the floor in the middle of the night, shattering its glass dish and waking us all out of a sound sleep.
What's-Her-Name has two confederates in other states -- well, she had them: Tyrone of New Rochelle went home to Jesus not long ago himself, and Sniper moves around a bit. I think he's in Pittsburgh now. I imagine he'll get in touch if he reads this. And she has lots of human admirers, if they can be called admirers: What's-Her-Name is awesome, rather than pleasing, rather like some opera singers. Amazing, rather than actually lovable. You have to work to love What's-Her-Name. People have been drawn to her annoying exploits ever since I've been writing about her, and that's a long time -- long enough for one of my books to have contain a chapter entitled "The What's-Her-Name Chronicles."
I don't think Jesus is going to send What's-Her-Name back. I think he's going to keep her. There are lots of annoying people up there -- have you ever read Jerome or Tertullian? And St. Paul could be difficult, too. I imagine all the less-than-admirable aspects of us stay right here with all our compostable parts, to be made into something better later on. As with What's-Her-Name, so with all of us: she is finally who she was intended to be.
But we will miss her, if she really is with Jesus. Q is still devising ways to lure her back into our lives -- he thinks keeping Ben and Santi under wraps might work: she can't stand either of them. And I still think I see her, sudden in the window box right by the kitchen table, startling me out of my wits. I still think I hear the thud of her slight body when she leaps down from there and lands on the slanted cellar door. I still think I see her trotting across the patio for her supper after a long day of doing whatever it is she does all day.
But I could be mistaken about all that.
Here is a small selection of What-'s-Her-Name eMos. There are many, many more, archived at www.geraniumfarm.org.
"Cats on Drugs," December 30, 2006
"Not Another Cat Tale," November 27, 2006
"The Farm Summit," November 8, 2006
"Herding Cats," January 6, 2006
"What's-Her-Name and the Watering Can," August 22, 2005
"A Psalm of Cats and Dogs," July 9, 2005
"A Bed of Catmint," May 24, 2005
And here is a list of Barbara Crafton's public appearances for the remainder of the year.
Sunday, November 28, 10:00 am, Trinity Wall Street,
74 Trinity Place, NYC
Barbara Crafton begins Trinity's Advent program of study on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Wednesday, December 1, 12-3pm Zion Episcopal Church, Dobbs Ferry, NY
Clergy Sermon Workshop for Advent Sundays. Barbara Crafton is the guest of Region II clergy in the Diocese of New York as they prepare for an important month in the preaching year. Telephone 212-316-7408 for more information or to reserve a place.
December 5-6 Grace Church, Camden, SC
Barbara Crafton visits for a Saturday quiet day and Sunday preaching. Call 803-432-7621 for information and reservations.
Wednesday, December 8, 6-8 pm The Nature of Creativity -- A Panel Discussion at Trinity, Wall Street
Held in conjunction with the exhibit " All Insignificant Things Must Disappear -- The Social Sphere and the Post-Economic Landscape." Trinity partners with Phenomena Project, a group that views the role of art in social change. Barbara Crafton will represent the theological corner of the discussion. 74 Trinity Place. Call 212-602-0800.
Dec 12 Church of the Ascension,Montgomery, AL
Barbara Crafton visits for preaching and discussion of issues raised by her book, Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet. Sermon at the 10.15 Eucharist, discussion from 4-8pm. Call 334-263-5529
Saturday, December 18 Quiet Day with Barbara Crafton and the Sisters of St. Mary, Sewanee, TN. Telephone 931-598-0059 for reservations