Iowa Writes

VICKI L. CHRISTENSEN
Rambo's Wake


Our youngest son would not allow cutesy kitty names—Muffin, Snowball—for his kitten. Therefore, he called his gray tabby "Rambo," before we decided that she was a girl cat. It wouldn't have mattered; he would've still insisted on "Rambo."
 
Once, she was gone for quite some time, and we became worried about her whereabouts. Then she came limping, bedraggled and much thinner, into the farmyard. Upon inspection, we put together her story of being trapped in a beaver trap until she was able to gnaw her paw out.

She got around fine on three paws and a fourth leg. No other animal could move as fast as that cat, if she needed to do so. We marveled at her dexterity, agility, and prowess. All of the other barnyard animals noticed also, and she rose to the position of feline Queen. The other cats would never cross her or chat with her; they just adroitly cleared the way for her to pass by.

If she came to the deck to repose and bathe, all other cats vanished from sight. She mothered many litters of varied colors and species of kittens and taught them all to be sly, fearless hunters. Oddly, none of them came to be princes or princesses, or even ladies-in-waiting! There was only one Queen, and that was Rambo.

Our youngest son would not allow cutesy kitty names—Muffin, Snowball—for his kitten. Therefore, he called his gray tabby "Rambo," before we decided that she was a girl cat. It wouldn't have mattered; he would've still insisted on "Rambo."
 
Once, she was gone for quite some time, and we became worried about her whereabouts. Then she came limping, bedraggled and much thinner, into the farmyard. Upon inspection, we put together her story of being trapped in a beaver trap until she was able to gnaw her paw out.

She got around fine on three paws and a fourth leg. No other animal could move as fast as that cat, if she needed to do so. We marveled at her dexterity, agility, and prowess. All of the other barnyard animals noticed also, and she rose to the position of feline Queen. The other cats would never cross her or chat with her; they just adroitly cleared the way for her to pass by.

If she came to the deck to repose and bathe, all other cats vanished from sight. She mothered many litters of varied colors and species of kittens and taught them all to be sly, fearless hunters. Oddly, none of them came to be princes or princesses, or even ladies-in-waiting! There was only one Queen, and that was Rambo. 

We're not quite sure how old Rambo was when she began to slow down and lose her hearing. We did know, however, that she was twelve or more years old and could not make it through many more Iowa winters.
 
One quiet, end-of-summer evening, Rambo lay on our deck. We happened to look out of an upstairs window and noticed the other barn cats coming to the deck also. Clint and I watched this fascinating scene unfold. One by one each cat took up a position on the deck near Rambo. Not too close, of course, but they just sat or reclined near her. It was obvious they were paying their last respects to honor her. I could hardly believe my own eyes! We whispered to each other, "They're holding a wake for their Queen." We knew that we were beholding something very holy.
 
As was expected, the next day we found Rambo near a tree where she had gone to die alone. There was no need for a fussy burial interment; her loyal feline subjects had already enshrined her forever in our hearts.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


VICKI L. CHRISTENSEN

Vicki L. Christensen is a farm wife and assistant librarian in Anita, Iowa. She says: "I am an animal lover and bird watcher. We have three goats, a bunny rabbit, six pea fowl, seven chickens, one dog, and many barn cats."

This page was first displayed
on June 17, 2007

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