Four O’Clock in the Morning


It’s Capto_Capture 2018-11-16_02-22-34_PM4 AM in the morning, and I wake up thanks to my affectionate cat Rusty. Don’t get me wrong he’s a wonderful companion and friend. However, he wakes me up early in the morning and has for the last 14 years. It is a part of his morning routine. Every morning he wakes me up somewhere between three and 4 o’clock.

Today, I was reminded of the time when I visited my father-in-law’s farm years ago one winter night. He was a dairy farmer and milked his cows twice a day. The first milking occurred around 4 AM. I can remember hearing the pumps and the machines starting up for the day as he prepared for the morning milking. I can remember thinking to myself at that point in my life, “I don’t ever want to get up that early in the morning; every morning, ever. However, sometimes blessings come in small packages and today the memory of that moment years before slithered into my consciousness thanks to my little friend Rusty.
I have always been a dog person because I never had the opportunity to get to know many if any cats until I got married. I was still going to graduate school and my wife and I lived in a small apartment in the University apartment complex. It was during that time that “Peanuts” came into my life. Peanuts was a beautiful gray cat with a quiet yet peaceful disposition.We took her to the University Veterinary Clinic to have her spayed. The surgery went well, and she recovered quickly from the surgery. However, we noticed something had changed. Her disposition that completely reversed itself from the pre-surgical state. She became extremely nasty and relegated herself to a corner of the room. When approached, she just struck out with her paws. We were very concerned with such a drastic change.
We took her back to the clinic for her postoperative checkup when her fury came more extreme. The moment she saw the vet coming toward her in a white coat, she began to hiss and snarl and started to show her claws and teeth. Something happened before, during or after her surgery to cause her to reverse her entire personality. We tried all we could help her overcome the trauma but to no avail.
 She did live a few years after that but never recovered from her psychological injury.
I learned many things from that experience. Things like; change is the only thing consistent in the universe and sometimes you will find a rotten apple in the middle of the bag. I more importantly realized how circumstances in life can cause change in an instant. Oh, there are also the qualities called patience, compassion, and love even in difficult circumstances.

Fortune came my way many years later when Rusty came into my life. Rusty is a Devon Rex breed of cat. We adopted he and his sister when they were 16 weeks of age. I can remember the breeder mentioning to us that he was “special”. He was special in that he tolerated all kinds of play. It didn’t bother him at all if you held them upside down or one way or the other. In addition he was extremely people oriented and just loved to be around people. That is not to say most cats are not people oriented but he has a “special” personality. We noticed as he grew older he had an unusual fondness to be with people. He always loves to watch workmen as they do some repairs in her home or if a plumber came his usual cleaning of the furnace. There, sitting in a supervisory position was Rusty watching and approving everything that went on. I learned rather quickly that he was and is a complete and special soul. In fact, as I write this article he is sitting in front of me looking at me directly in my eyes.

This year, he will be 14 years old. He has not lost any of his enduring characteristics but has become my constant companion. He follows me everywhere I go, sleeps with me, and always wants to be very close. We’ve developed a relationship where I know when he wants food or water or attention which are all the usual things people give their pets. However, he has a distinct personality which is different from any other animal I have ever experienced. I know one thing; I will certainly miss him terribly when he passes on. He has become more to me than a cat. He’s become trust, love, and a teacher of life. As he sits next to me, he is in that pose cats give which allows them to burrow into our heart. You can see it in his eyes when he twists his head to the side. Perhaps that’s me interjecting human qualities to animal but this little guy has affected me more than any other human individual has in my life.

If we as humans had as much faith in our friends and companions as this little guy has in me, the world would be different. If we had the patience that he has, a commitment to loyalty, and 1/10 the conviction that this little guy has, our world would be different. What makes some animals so incredible? What makes them know when you’re sick? What makes them understand how to be compassionate or read your moods when neither of you share a common language? Rusty knows me better than I know myself. He can tell I’m happy and know where to sit on my lap, next to me or on my side, when I’m sleeping. He knows when I’m sad and wants to make me happier. He knows when I’m sick and tries to make me well. They say we humans are the most intelligent life on earth, I ask are we? Who are we attempting to kid?

These thoughts and others are the things that run through my mind at 4 o’clock in the morning. If I allow them to flow through and don’t write them down, they quickly fade from my consciousness. This is a day in which I remember memories of years gone by and appreciate the lessons taught by a little boy who shows me only love, devotion, and trust. Some would call him a cat, but to me he is my constant friend and companion. I closed my eyes felt at peace while stroking the back of my little teacher and mentor, Rusty. This day just became a better day.