Sometimes we just grow into a name
|At the beginning of autumn he arrived in a cardboard crate to take up residence at our home. Though he would never be the same, he was acquired to give us a sorely needed distraction from the passing of a predecessor that having been a part of our lives for too few years. There would be shoes to fill.
A tiny ball of white fluff with bluish grey points, the Siamese within him was much in evidence with a ruby red explosion in his eyes, a calm disposition of presence and a loud and piercing voice. It had been two days since we had procured him from a shelter before my son's expected grandparent's arrival and the kitten clung to the company of my yellow lab. He was not testing the waters of the two presently residing feline counterparts. After all, they had already staked out this house's territory and claimed its domain. This kitten was aware of his standing and knew his place.
For two days the boys and myself had grappled with a name for this newcomer and none could be found that would fit this creature that had befriended the family dog. We had had our share of cats but this one had a different manner to himself and usual names were not a fit, try as we could. It was just going to take more time.
With the arrival of my parents, the boys dashed about their grandparents, jumping in and out of laps and being treated to hamburger meals with ice cream and along new toys with clothing. All was forgotten but the delight of the loved visitors who spoke of how bright and wonderful their grandchildren were. I was newly divorced and my parents' company was a buffer to my foreign situation, reassuring my sons that all was well and there would be a hand to hold or a story to be recalled to keep them in rapt attention. I, myself found it to be a relief to have them there as I went off to my 12 hour shifts as a nurse. To have my children in the care of loved ones lifted a burgeoning weight from myself for at least a temporary time. In the controlled chaos of presents, hugs and kisses, the cat's name had been forgotten.
Appearing back home after a grueling day, I found my mother casually reading the newspaper, the children having gone on an expedition with their grandfather. Imbedded within that kitchen atmosphere I perceived a keenly recalled tenseness of my teenage years that would herald my Mother's talking to —aka lecturing—me. My fate sealed, I sat in one of the kitchen chairs opposite her. Slowly putting the paper down, she peered over her half glasses and succinctly asked me why the cat had no name. My eyes widened as my words came out in disjointed sentences presenting the final obscure answer that we just hadn't come up with one yet. With her well-trained teacher's gaze set upon me, she merely remarked that the cat needed a name as quickly as possible and it wasn't to be put off. this would be in all due fairness to the kitten. Without rolling my eyes (I suppressed my well engrained, teenage urge) I explained to my mother that we simply hadn't found the right one. I perceived a tightening of her jaw and the paper was once more picked up as she commenced her reading. I had now been dismissed.
The next morning, clad in my nursing uniform and poised to retrieve my lunch from the refrigerator, I once more saw her seated at the table. With a quick "good morning," I again thanked her for spending time with us and watching the children as I worked. Her hand moved up to brush off my words and once more she brought up the subject of my nameless kitten. Pressed for time and at a loss for words I finally blurted out "Why don't you name him?" I saw a flash from her brown eyes as she pondered my question and instantly she stated "He will be named by the time you get home." I quickly nodded a thank you and departed.
As I arrived back home that evening my mind was still full of drug calibrations, the reliving of an assistance with a bone marrow biopsy and the responsibilities of being a Charge Nurse on a Busy Telemetry floor. The cat was the furthest thing from my mind. I hoisted myself from the car, grabbing the lightened contents of my lunch pack and entered the house. The kitchen was silent and I unloaded my now empty food containers into the dishwasher and wiped the insulated cooler clean. From the living room I heard my name called and proceeded in that direction. Seated in the lounge chair with the young feline curled about her feet, my mother announced "Your cat is named Buffington." I looked down at the cream colored ball of fur so tiny and delicate as I rolled the ostentatious title across my mind. How could this minute creature bear such a distinguished name, I thought? I thanked my mother for her contribution and as the more appropriate nickname of Buffie came into my thoughts I said "Let's name him after Dad, too. He'll be Buffington Edward." She nodded her approval and the little kitten became a member of the family from that moment, a big name squarely placed upon his small shoulders.
As the years proceeded, the cat grew into his name. He was a large male with a dense coat that was a marvel to many who saw him along with his elegant beauty and grace. The name Buffington was easily filled by his mass and a personality that gave one a sense of awe and as he stood on his own majesty. A wondrous and intelligent cat, he has always taken his honored place seriously and became a favorite with my children's friends if only for his boldness. He does not hide from the sound of company. Being irresistible both in looks and disposition, he is a charming rogue when necessary for his needs or will watch silently with that ever-moving tail as you beg him for his companionship. The name Buffington bears a sense of entitlement.
The years have softened us both as we've mourned the passing of his predecessors including his beloved Labrador retriever and have watched our once young children grow into men. He takes his place rightfully upon my bed, occupies my lap when empty and walks sure footedly through the house with tail raised high as he commences to discipline the younger litter mates that have taken the place of those long gone. A surety and confidence is emitted from him not often found in household pets.He will put himself between myself and a stranger until he's satisfied that I'm in no danger ensuring my personal safety. He licks my hands when open to him and tentatively touches my face with a soft paw in the mornings to inform me of the start of a new day or that the time for breakfast has come. Sitting with me in the grass, Buffie will lazily watch as I pot my plants and now easily comes when his name is called. He is the epitome of confidence, high breeding and sensibility. He is also one of my closest friends.
Who would ever know 14 years ago that the miniscule kitten at my mother's feet would ever live up to such a stately moniker with all of the responsibility that is tacked onto the numerous syllables. Now curled at my feet as he once was in the same position with my mother's, I think of her passing and the legacy that she has left embodied in this handsome creature that stays staunchly at my side. My mind wanders to my mother and offers to her a silent thank you. "Yes, mother. His name *is* Buffington."