The Owl and the Pussycat   Leave a comment

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring.”  Said the piggy, “I will”.  So they took it away, and were married next day, by the turkey who lives on the hill.  They dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.  And hand in hand on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.  They danced by the light of the moon.  © Calhoun Rising- All rights reserved.

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When I was small, a friend of my grandmother’s who owned a book shop gave me a book for Christmas,  “The Owl and the Pussycat”, that came with a set of two stuffed animals.  It was in French, as most of the little baby books and records that she and Tisolay gave me were.  I loved them immediately.  At some point, during the time that the nuns of Sacred Heart were teaching us to write chancery script, they must have assigned my class a penmanship exercise where we could pick our own subject, because Tisolay and I found it, a loose-leaf  sheet with a drawing of the owl and pussycat’s wedding, in the attic among a roll of drawings of mine that she’d carefully packed away.

It was then, thirty years later, that I did a second drawing of The Owl and the Pussycat, one of several projects that I dragged Tisolay into after my granddaddy died and I realized, like a knife in my heart, that she was losing her will to live.  I made my visits more frequent, and anything that brought her closer to Granddaddy became an epic adventure: a big attic-cleaning and ‘discovery’ of forgotten trunks of Granddaddy’s, filled with mementoes from his childhood and their courtship years together… reading her love letters to him, found in the trunks, aloud to her, and then his to her (she  surprised me by melding the two together in chronological order so they could be read as the two-part conversations that they were)… sorting through the bureau drawers crammed with old photographs, and recording the stories that came pouring out of her with each one…

And drawing the things she loved.  She loved to watch me draw, had ever since I was a child.  When we found my little Owl and Pussycat penmanship exercise, I started a drawing of the little Owl and Pussycat book and the two stuffed animals, and then matted them together in one frame for her that Christmas.  True, it was less an expression of her tie to Granddaddy than it was to me, but they were all, in one form or another, wordless pleas for her to realize how much she was still needed down here by me.

Sept. 1964, Tisolay’s side yard.  © Calhoun Rising- All rights reserved.

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   Sept. ’64 – I love how the shadow of Tisoley’s head, caught while snapping this picture, is touching mine.

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© Calhoun Rising- All rights reserved.

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