Before Mom was wheeled into surgery, she left me a last breathy message on my phone.
"Please, Greg... Remember... *sob*... the birds... please feed them... w-will you... do that?"
She wanted me to fling seed from the back door. Mom used to have a hanging bird feeder on a clothes wire, but that was long gone. Now it was just easier to fling that shit all over the back porch. And it was a good thing too since the entire bird population of Denver flocked for a hearty meal. If it wasn't done, the birds would chirp in hopeless hunger. A dewy teardrop would form on Momma Bird's eye...
"What happened?" she'd wonder sadly.
And the little chicklets would gather 'round. "Mama? Where are food?"
"I don't know, honey. Maybe it's a bad son."
The little birds all wore little cloths around their little necks. And then there was Tiny Tim, the littlest bird. He coughed.
"It's okay," he said, with a brave trembling smile. "I don't need any fucking seed today. *cough, cough*"
But then there was Mewy. Mewy the cat.
"Oh, and Greg... please... make sure Mewy... has water... and that you massage her paws...."
The next day, as Mom was in the hospital, I went to her house and found Mewy. Mewy was in bed, gently crying. I took the corner of my hanky and dried her little tears.
"There, there, stupid," I said. "Mommy will be home soon."
"Yeah, yeah. Mew."
In the hospital, Mom was feeling much better. The surgery went well. But she had a burning question for me.
"I watched that Magic Mike movie," she said. "Do they really have those places?"
"What places? Studios?"
"No, places where the men... you know. I mean, they don't leave much to the imagination. Do they really do those... things. At those... places?"
"No, it's just a movie. It's fiction. Like Indiana Jones or Lincoln."
"And how is Mewy?"
"Well, I was going to wait to tell you this, but... Mewy got a job."