Tippy had become quite a love, and was incredibly beautiful. She loved me and was so attached to me. I as offered the opportunity to graduate from high school a semester early, and took it without the need for a single thought. I was outta' there!!!
The day after school ended, I packed a suitcase and Tippy, and we were headed to Florida to live with my Granny and Papa. I was very close to them, spent most summers with them in my teens, and couldn't wait to depart metro-Detroit's hideous winter weather in January, 1979. I couldn't be happier. The world was suddenly and unexpectedly looking much brighter than I could have imagined. I didn't like Michigan's harsh and long winters, and cloudy days, year 'round. I was heading for the Sunshine State to live with my grandparents, whom I adored, and they adored me. And my cat, which I probably didn't tell them about before arriving.
I was in heaven. No more school. No more wicked classmates. No more walking back and forth though the woods to school. no more frozen feet through my rubber boots that kept out moisture, but not cold. No more white rabbit fur coat that I wore around the clock. I felt free and happy for the first time in my young life.
I turned 18 a couple weeks after arrival to what was clearly the Sunshine State! It was sunny every single day. In fact, the newspaper there had a deal with its readers that if the sun did not come out on any given day, the paper would be free of charge. I imagine that was only about 25 cents, but it was a lofty offer when you considered the amount of people who got the newspaper every day back then, and I can assure you, the paper never lost.
Tippy and I were in heaven. As I did in southeastern Michigan, I let her in and out as she demanded. She had become a favorite of my grandparents with her antics. And every night, my Papa had a bowl of ice cream, and Tippy would sit on the sofa back with her paws on one of his shoulders waiting for her turn. And Papa always saved a generous amount of ice cream for her in the bowl, and instinctively, she knew when she could put her pretty little face in the bowl, and lap up the remainder. It was a nightly ritual. A new tradition. A wonderful time during the evening. Tippy was as much in heaven as I was.
We didn't have a lot of money when I was young. My college savings amounted to $900. And I needed something much more than an education at that point. I needed wheels. I went with my Papa to look for used cars, and I found my first. A 1972 Chevy Impala. This car was a monster. It was so big and so powerful, and just what I needed to find a job and be able to get to it. My Papa was so sweet, he had it re-carpeted and had seat covers installed. I loved it. I used to call it a boat because it was as big as one.
I found jobs right away. I was a waitress at a HoJo's, but was so bad at it that I ended up washing dishes that were so hot, they blistered my hands. But I was much more comfortable not having to deal with people. I did a little modeling just for fun, and the rest of the time, I was at the beach. Sunning until I couldn't sign any longer. Then I'd go home to a wonderful home-cooked meal with Tippy often reaching up to the counter for her delectable morsels. And she always got them.
One day, not too long after we had arrived, I had let Tippy out. But this time she didn't come back. I was devastated. I couldn't find her anywhere. I searched door-to-door asking anyone who would answer if they had seen her. Nobody had. I searched for weeks, every day. My Papa had gone back up to Michigan to work, so it was just me and Granny, and we looked every day for her. The mood in the house had changed to sadness, but I would never give up on looking for her.
One night, about 3 months later, I was in a nearby park with my boyfriend under a shelter, and he was only interested in kissing, etc. But I had an eye out for my Tippy at all times. Then, suddenly, I thought I heard a whisper of a meow in the far distant wood line. I pushed my boyfriend away from me and told him to shut up with his protestations. I thought I heard a meow in the distance. He obeyed. I followed the sounds that I heard and after a very dark walk into the woods, there she was. Tippy heard the sound of my voice and called out to me. I scooped her up, and headed directly hone. My boyfriend was angry that he didn't get what he wanted, but he was nothing to me compared to finding Tippy.
I held her tightly as I walked with the biggest steps I could manage, and felt how she had become skin and bones. She didn't try to get away. She knew I saved her for the second time in her young life. I got to the house, went inside and woke Granny saying "look who I found! Look who I found!".She awoke with such a shock. We took her into the kitchen where she ate and drank for her life, literally. When she finally had her fill, she came to bed with me, and purred nonstop until I finally fell asleep. I knew I would find her. And after 3 months, she found me. Again. First as tiny kitten, and now as a malnourished young adult.
She readily gained wait with all the spoiling that Granny and I gave her. Her health returned quickly, as did our joy in having her back in our lives. She resumed her evening ice cream ritual when my Papa came home, and we were whole again. Happy, healthy, magical and grateful.
I will consider writing the last chapter about Tippy next time I have the time to write. Suffice it to say for now that she was greatly loved by my grandparents and me.
Tippy. What a beautiful cat.