I hope to start writing a romantic Christmas novella this month. This story, Minty’s Kiss, will be released in a box set with other authors, and all the stories will feature pets–nice, sweet Christmas stories starring a lovable pet.
Only one pet came to mind when I signed up to participate in this box set. Minty. Sweet, eccentric Minty, named by my daughter Anna when Minty chose us as his people.
Our Florida house had a raised floor beneath our bedroom. One Sunday afternoon, we heard a sound that resembled a creaking door. It continued throughout the day and night, yet when we looked under the floor, we couldn’t see anything.
The next day, we took a flashlight and shined it under the house since the squeaking continued sporadically. Eyes glowed back at us, but we couldn’t see what it was attached to. We began leaving bits of food under the floor. Cheese disappeared first. Then we began laying the food closer and closer to the edge of the house. Eventually, we saw a ball of gray fur surrounding those greenish eyes. The shy, scared ball of fur squeaked and hesitantly came closer and closer to us until five-year-old Anna had him eating out of her hands.
“I want to call him Minty,” she declared after she was able to pick him up. He shook with fear at first and didn’t like being up in the air. He liked to sit in laps, but balked and scratched when we stood.
We lived on a dirt dead-end road. We believe Minty, and maybe other kitties, was dropped out of a car—hence, his fear of heights—and left to survive, or not, on his own. That little guy, probably not more than five weeks old, walked a quarter of a mile from the road to our home where we welcomed him and sheltered him from the bad things in the world.
Minty never recovered a proper meow. For eighteen years, he squeaked to announce his presence or to demand something from us. However, that cat could purr so loud we could hear him throughout the house. He refused to use a litter box, but he never left deposits in the house. He slept inside during inclement weather, but mostly he roamed the perimeter of the property and had spots to sleep, thanks to several outbuildings on our twenty acres.
“Love like Minty” is the title of a painting by Anna, created not long after we put Minty to rest eighteen years after he joined our family. The painting hangs in my living room, reminding me every day that to love like Minty is a very noble standard to follow. We buried him in a spot overlooking the front door of the house where he guards over where my ex-husband still lives, and Anna still considers home.
There are so many Minty stories, but one thing remained constant through his eighteen years. He loved us fiercely, and he always knew when one of us needed comforting. He paid back our kindness a million times over the years. When Anna stayed home from school with the flu or a cold, he’d climb into bed with her and stay until she felt better. When any of us were sad, Minty instinctively knew and kept close by in case we needed him. His kisses consisted of a very scratchy tongue swipe across the cheek. Just once, but enough to let us know he cared.
He fought all the wildlife that came near our house and had plenty of battle scars to prove it. Once he came home in the morning with a gaping wound on his neck requiring stitches to heal. We believe a bob cat may have done the damage. I bet whatever it was, it ended up in worse shape.