Several weeks ago, while offering Mitty her morning backrub, I found a lump on her back, close to her curled, Siamese tail. Her beautiful, blue eyes objected to my tick inspection, yet I persisted until she growled and clawed my hand.

“Sorry, Mitts.”

“Meeeooow!” she repeated, and escaped.

I would wait to probe the suspicious spot with my husband’s assistance. He’d left the house for another cat food run. Considering Mitty’s healthy appetite (and her sister’s), I determined not to worry about a tick.

Besides, I had packing to do for my trip with my daughter Kelly to Kentucky and West Virginia. Our pets’ timing is much like our children’s when they were babies–just before we stepped out the door for  church or family functions, they’d mess their diaper, or spit up on my clothes.

When Kelly and I returned from Appalachia, the lump remained on Mitty’s back. I called the vet. We scheduled the first available appointment, several days out. “If she’s eating well, don’t worry,” the vet said. “If her behavior changes, call us immediately and we’ll get her in.”

Yesterday, Mitty submitted to her carrier with little protest. Yet, her pitiful meows broke my heart as I drove several miles to the vet. I recalled my friend, Martha, who would belt out happy songs like John Denver’s “Country Roads” to herself and whomever would listen. Including Rosebud, her adorable, miniature terrier.

I do not possess Martha’s singing voice, or care to know the lyrics to every song John Denver sang. However, I learned the words and melodies to my favorite hymns “Blessed Assurance” and “He Lives” at nine years old. This in mind, I sang them to Mitty.

Her meowing faded into silence. I parked the car. Within ten minutes the vet returned with Mitty and a hairy scab, rather than a swollen tick. “This often happens with indoor/outdoor cats,” he said. “Make sure to keep your cats in at night, safe from coyotes.”

Relieved, I nodded, paid the bill, and sang to Mitty on the way home.

I miss Martha, my “anam cara,” soul friend, at times like this. She would celebrate such good news with me, most likely sing a happy song.

Also gifted with needle and thread, throughout our friendship Martha created dozens of cross-stitched and embroidered gifts I display in my house. However, years ago I hung her “Anam Cara” needlework in Happy, my little camper.

At last I removed the little treasure from the camper’s wall, knowing it now belonged where I would see it every day. I carried it uphill, into the house, and upstairs to the wall I face when I awake.

Dear Reader, as the lyrics to “Country Roads” say, “I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me, radio reminds me of my home far away, driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.”

“Martha, I’ve just been home to West Virginia,” I reply.

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