Personal Musings

Jeremiah, an Opossum, and a Litter of Kittens

It’s Jeremiah’s birthday today. He would have been 45 years old. Crazy to think. I sometimes wonder how different all our lives would’ve turned out had he never been stricken with brain cancer:

  • How many kids would he have? A mix of boys and girls? All boys? All girls?
  • Where would he be living?
  • Would we all get together every once in a while and shoot hoops at the court: Kevin and me vs. Robbie and Jeremiah to a game of 50 win by four?
  • Would a big group of us have gone on annual camping trips? I could see that happening.

Back in 2007, the year Jeremiah passed, I wrote a poem on what would have been his twenty-eighth birthday. It was called “Fish Swim Forth and Stay.”

I almost forgot today was Jeremiah’s birthday. Not because I had forgotten the day he was born. I’m terrible about remembering my friends’ birthdays, but I do have a few memorized for all eternity including his as well as Robbie, Rick, and Josh Holt. I know Andy was born in May, but I forget the day every year. I usually wish Andy happy birthday too soon or too late. It’s the thought that counts, right?

No, today, I almost forgot because my brain got sidetracked.

When I went to check on our dog in the backyard, as I stepped out onto the back patio, I noticed my crow pal Mr. Jones cawing his heart out. My squirrel friend, Little Girl, was screeching away in the trees all the same.

I looked to where Mr. Jones had perched himself and his beak positioned. There was an opossum standing on my fence rail.

I’m not sure if this is the same one I wrote about on my random thoughts daily blog page yesterday. This opossum seems smaller, but maybe the one yesterday wasn’t as large as I initially thought.

I don’t have any Jeremiah and the opossum stories tucked away in my memory bank. The closest animal story I have involving Jeremiah relates to cats.

Back when we were kids, he informed my sister and me, and the rest of the kids in our neighborhood, “the cats were making sex” in his yard.

They weren’t “having,” they were “making,” which is apropos if you think about it. They were indeed making something: kittens.

Not long after, we realized our cat was pregnant, a detail Jeremiah left out in his story. Eight or nine weeks later, while our cat was in labor, we invited Jeremiah and his family over to witness the kittens being born in our living room floor.

Is this when Jeremiah fell in love with cats and would one day get his own cat and name it Leon Phelps? The world may never know.

Read: Cal Meets Leon Phelps the Cat

Either way, it was the opossum that sidetracked my brain momentarily. When it failed to listen to my gentle suggestions to “get” and “go on outta here,” I shooed it away with a broom. I didn’t beat or bash it in any way. I nudged it humanely until it moved off the fence post.

While I was driving back from dropping off my kids at school, the thought occurred to me: was that opossum an otherworldly Jeremiah dropping in to say hello and I’d shooed him away?

No, couldn’t be.

If anything, I think he’d vacation from the spirit world as a cat. Definitely a cat.

Happy birthday buddy. I miss you.

Thanks for reading. I write personal essays on every day life, often with a touch of humor and nostalgia. Get updates of new posts by email: