For Christmas, all I wanted was a kitten. What I got were years of friendship, entertainment, laughter, snuggles, and unconditional love.
Opus and Roscoe always had very different personalities; personalities that changed little over the twelve and a half years that we had each other. That Christmas afternoon in 1995 I was told to close my eyes. When I opened them I came face to face with two of the cutest kittens I had ever seen. Roscoe had a red bow on the top of his head while Opus wore a green one. No one knew if the kittens were boys or girls or one of each. With the vet being closed over the holidays, I had to wait a few days to find out.
Once freed from Christmas bows, Opus immediately sneaked behind the couch, snuggled up on top of the heat vent and went to sleep. Roscoe, on the other hand, went right to playing. As we tried to video tape him he kept batting at the lens cap, which made it swing. The more it would swing, the harder he would hit it, causing it to swing more. I couldn't stop laughing.
In the days that followed, I tired to guess the sex of my kittens. Opus was more serious, aloof, and acted like a grown up cat. He found it more interesting to just sit back and watch. Maybe he was trying to figure me out. Roscoe never sat still. There were just too many interesting things to explore in his new home. He was also very loving and wanted to held. This made me think that he was a girl while I guessed that Opus must be a boy. Imagine my surprise a few days later when the vet confirmed that Opus and Roscoe were both males! And from that day on, Opus and Roscoe were loving refereed to as "the boys".
Roscoe was also a clumsy kitten. He would constantly fall off of the couch, getting stuck between the furniture and the wall. When he would try to jump up on the counters he always missed judged the distance. I lost count of the times he would try to jump up only to hit the side of the counter and fall down. Never mind the fact that he wasn't even suppose to be ON the kitchen counters.
Several days passed and the kittens remained nameless. I tried to come with cute, matching names (Salt and Pepper or Abbott and Costello) but the none of the matching names fit the personalities of the kittens. Then one day, as I watched my clumsy cat the name came to me. Roscoe P. Coletrain. He was the sheriff from the old TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard". It wasn't that I was a huge Hazzard fan. You see, the sheriff was a bit goofy and extremely clumsy. But underneath it all, he was good man with a kind heart. Just like my Roscoe; goofy, clumsy but a great cat with a good heart. And so that is how Roscoe got his name. And his clumsiness? It turned out that he had ear mites which were affecting his balance! Once those cleared up, he was much less clumsy.
The kittens were given to me on Christmas day 1995. Five months later, I moved out of my parents house and into my first apartment. It was on the 8Th floor of a high rise in down town Fort Wayne, IN. My window over looked a river lined with giant beautiful trees. The boys would sit in the window watching the world below. They spent the first year and half of their lives thinking that everything in the world was miniature.
In 1997, in desperate need for a change the boys and I packed up my car and moved to Indianapolis. You can imagine how surprised they were to see how much bigger the world was from a second story window! I cherish the years we spent together in Indianapolis. They were my friends and my family all rolled into one. When I first moved there, I didn't know very many people and spent many nights at home with the boys. Over the years they nursed me through heart breaks, snuggled on me when I sick, and gave me the kind of unconditional love that only a pet can give.
In 2001 I fell in love an incredible, Italian man with a sexy accent. Opus was a little leery of him during that first visit, but old Roscoe welcomed Danilo into our lives with open paws. I could go on with a long list of things that I find attractive about my husband, but one of the things I have loved about him the most has always been his affection towards Opus and Roscoe.
A few years later, Danilo and I were discussing the possibility of me moving to Italy. Before I would even consider the question I had to know one thing. Could Opus and Roscoe come? Of course Danilo was delighted to have the boys, but we didn't know if it was possible to import cats to Italy. It wasn't until I was absolutely sure that the boys could come did I even consider the move.
Flying to Italy with Opus and Roscoe was the longest flight of my life. Because of regulations, my boys had to go into cargo in separate cages. My family and I drove three hours to Chicago just so I could take a direct flight to Italy; I was too worried that the boys might miss a connection and then be stuck at an airport in America while I was in Italy. Danilo met us in Milan and then drove us two and half hours home, even though there was a closer airport in Bologna. That way there was only one flight and no connections. I was so happy to be reunited with boys once we landed. And though they were frightened, they were both fine.
I can't begin to tell you what it has meant having Opus and Roscoe with me in Italy. Leaving your home country for a new one is not an easy thing. There are always moments of homesickness. After almost four years, I still miss my culture, my language, my friends, my family and my country. But having Opus and Roscoe with me is like having a slice of my old American life right here in Italy. I feel like did not come here alone, they made the trip with me. We are in this together.
To say that it has been a rough few weeks is a bit of an understatement. Every day that passes, I miss Roscoe more. But today, I will not be sad. Today I will think of my little friend and smile. I will remember all of the funny things he did on a daily basis, like sleeping on my head or talking constantly, that made me smile.
ON my head when it was really cold.
We pet owners think that we are pet owners. But that just isn't true. The truth is that our pets own us. I feel lucky to have had Roscoe in my life. And I will always be proud that he and Opus are my owners.
(My sweet Roscoe, we will see each other again...)