David Sedaris is a master of satire and a writer who can turn diary entries into poignantly crafted stories. Send me a message for your free copy of this story.
"THAT'S IT," MY MOTHER SAID AFTER HAVING SADIE PUT TO SLEEP. "MY CAT DAYS ARE OVER."
In the early sixties, during what my mother referred to as the "tail end of the Lassie years," my parents were given two collies they named Rastus and Duchess. We were living in upstate New York, out in the country, and the dogs were free to race through the forest. They napped in meadows and stood knee-deep in frigid streams, costars in their own private dog-food commercial. According to our father, anyone could tell that the two of them were in love.
Late one evening, while lying on a blanket in the garage, Duchess gave birth to a litter of slick, potato-sized puppies. When it looked as though one of them had died, our mother placed the creature in a casserole dish and popped it into the oven, like the witch in "Hänsel and Gretel."
"Oh, keep your shirts on," she said. "It's only set on 200. I'm not baking anyone; this is just to keep him warm."
The heat revived the sick puppy and left us believing our mother was capable of resurrecting the dead.
Faced with the responsibilities of fatherhood, Rastus took off. The puppies were given away, and we moved south, where the heat and humidity worked against a collie's best interests. Duchess's once beautiful coat now hung in ragged patches. Age set in and she limped about the house, clearing rooms with her suffocating farts. When finally, full of worms, she collapsed in the ravine beside our house, we reevaluated our mother's healing powers. The entire animal kingdom was beyond her scope; apparently, she could resurrect only the cute dead.
The oven trick was performed on half a dozen peakish hamsters but failed to work on my first guinea pig, who died after eating a couple of cigarettes and an entire pack of matches.