I grew up in a big old house way up in Northern BC, out where there were no McDonalds, public pools, and (gasp!) Wal-mart. We had two channels for television and no VCR until I was a teen. Yep. I was deprived.
Despite our lack of technology and fast food, my parents did allow each of us kids to have a pet. A small yappy black dog for my brother (who still gets misty eyed when he talks about Mickey) and an aloof grey ball of fluff for my sister.
My sister's cat wasn't exactly friendly. I think it was born wild in a barn somewhere, and while it tolerated people it certainly made it very clear that it, not you, was the boss of the house. Buttons did whatever he liked-and cuddling was definitely something he did NOT like. You risked getting scratched or bitten if you tried to cuddle that cat, I tell ya. Despite his prickly disposition though, he was a world class mouse catcher, and would happily disappear for a day or two in the woods to hunt. We were used to his rambling ways, and never thought much of it.
I was about 9 years old and we were on vacation somewhere at a relative's house in the city. My brother had stayed at home by himself because he had his first summer job and needed to work; however, he phoned us every day. One evening during our vacation, he phoned us with some very sad news. He had been driving to our Grandmother's house and found a grey ball of fluff on the side of the road. Buttons had apparently been hit by a car and died so he sadly took the cat back to our home and buried him in the back yard.
My sister and I sobbed and mourned the cat like little girls will, asking if he went to kitty heaven. My Dad spun elaborate stories of special kitty treats, and how he'd be very happy chasing the mice around heaven. Death was a part of life, and we really needed to just let Buttons go. I didn't want to. So much so that in the evening, I turned to Mom and said, "well, maybe he's not dead." Mom assured me that he was and that no, he's not coming back.
A few days went by, and just as we began to accept that Buttons was in kitty heaven, Jeff phoned again. His voice was shaking.
The night before, he had come home from work. It was very dark, and he was tired from working the late shift. It was a little creepy at night in our driveway because woods surrounded the house, making it very dark and slightly spooky. Jeff slowly closed the car door and made his way up the wooden boardwalk to the front door. As he reached to put his key in the lock, something brushed his leg. A furry something. To his horror, it then meowed a long, howling, yowl.
A ghost. A cat ghost. An angry cat ghost coming back to haunt him.
I'm sure he dropped the keys and screamed like a girl (although he would never admit that).
It was Buttons! Upon hearing the good news, my sister and I whooped and hollered in the background, dancing a wild jig around the kitchen in excitement. Of course, my Mom's next question was, "so are you sure that other cat wasn't Buttons? What if he was injured and you buried him? " Jeff assured her that the other cat was indeed the wrong cat.
"How do you know?"
"Mom, trust me, I checked."