One of the first birthday presents I remember receiving was a Casio keyboard.
The good people of Casio somehow knew that not all of its customers would be budding Rachmaninoffs, so they included a number of preset songs that would play themselves with the touch of a button. This was groundbreaking technology in the 80s. The foot-stomping barn-burners included Greensleeves, De Lorelei, and, most pertinent, Old Folks At Home.
As soon as I saw the name of that song and listened to its fresh beats, I knew exactly what it was about. Old Folks At Home had obviously been written about retirees sitting in overstuffed chairs, eating ginger snaps and watching reruns of M*A*S*H* and All In The Family. Because that’s what old folks do at home. (That’s what my old folks of reference did, anyway, which explains why my first celebrity crush was Alan Alda. But that’s another story
for another time that I will never tell you.)
All these years later, I have learned the error of my assumption. That little Casio PT-82 was not, in fact, playing a song about my grandparents.
It was playing a song about Tabby’s Place.
I’m confident of this, because our lobby is nothing if not the living, snoring embodiment of Old Folks At Home. Everywhere you look, there’s a fossil of a feline, sleeping or purring or screaming circles around your ankles for fresh fish mush. The lobby has always been the purview of our more fragile felines — either we want to keep a close eye on them, spoil them or both — but the population seems to have gotten an awful lot older in the last year or two.
And that’s just fine, because they’re all feeling very much at home.
In the stuff that songs are made of, our current crop of aging luminaries has also decided to collectively adore each other. With Boots on a nice, steady dose of Prozac and Olive more entertained by dead leaves than killing cats dead, the lobby is a harmonious spot for the extreme elderly.
Anneke loves Mimi loves Chloe loves OJ. OJ loves Lars loves Boots loves Trey. (Technically, those last two are not among the “extreme elderly.” But extreme elderly is as extreme elderly does, and Trey and Boots sure love their ginger snaps and M*A*S*H* reruns.)
Even the creature who most loathed living beings at Tabby’s Place, Halie, was getting in on the warm-and-gushy act just before she took her final bow recently. While Halie never stooped so low as to cuddle with another cat, she kept cozy company with her neighbors, snoozing in side-by-side beds while dreaming of Alan Alda. We miss her terribly today, feisty old force of nature that she was. I have no doubt her fellow seniors feel the same.
But grief doesn’t linger long in our old folks’ home. There is too much snuggling, snacking and seeking out strange bedfellows for that. These are the cats who have earned the right to stretch their whole selves out, body and spirit, in the lobby. They are exactly as they are, and they fully expect that we will love them such as they are.
They know they don’t need to style their whiskers or groom their wild wispy hairs or even clean the days-old fish mush off their toes to get your affection. They know they are loved, and they’ve long since graduated out of getting themselves all in a tizzy about…well, anything.
May you find yourself entirely at home, my old and young friends. And if you lose your way there, head for our lobby and cuddle up with Mimi and Anneke. They’ll make you sweeter music than an entire Casio orchestra.