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Requiem For Ginger:

Dreamed 2008/1/30 by Lily

I dreamed I made up this story that my friends liked. Here's what I told them:

Ginger was our first pet--a calico with a black patch over one eye, orange around the other, and a white streak down her nose.

She brought down my parents' "no pets" barrier, so I remember well how we got her.

I was sleeping in the living room because my bedroom still smelled of fresh paint.

When the doorbell rang early on Sunday, Daddy answered the door in his tentlike print pajamas.

Our neighbor Mrs O'Shea stood there in her voluminous coat and an itsy-bitsy hat. "Get your cat out of the back seat of my car. I have to go to church!" she greeted him, without so much as a "Good morning."

I called out to Daddy "Just tell her to shoo the cat out." It was a stray I'd been feeding, a stray so timid I'd tentatively named it Timmy.

Mrs O'Shea just snarled "The kittens too?"

Matching her surly tone, Daddy responded "Take 'em to church and get 'em baptized."

So we wound up with a cardboard box of kittens. We kept the prettiest one and named her Ginger for her predominant color.

When Daddy had his heart attacks, he spent a lot of time sitting, "resting." Curled in his lap, Ginger kept him company for hours.

After he'd gone, Ginger was with us for a while. But one day she was off her food, the next she was sluggish, and then she was gone too.

I guess our family wasn't ready to deal with another death yet--even a small one. So Ginger got wrapped and labeled and stowed in the big freezer down the basement.

Later, my brother Henry and I resolved to give her a proper send-off. We found a little old doll carriage, the kind that looks like a curvy hooded wicker basket on wheels. I put a doll cap on Ginger's head and dressed her in a fancy baby dress. Alive, she wouldn't have put up with this for ten seconds. She hated playing dress-up and I had scars to prove it.

Henry caught four mice in his Have-A-Heart Trap and fed them beer until they fell asleep. Then he rigged those mice into little string harnesses and tied the lines to the doll carriage. He worked inside a little fence he'd made from the side walls of a cardboard box, which we used when we raced turtles.

When the hung-over mice started to stir, he lifted the fence. The mice of course tried to get away. It worked! They actually pulled that funeral cortege for a whole minute before the harnesses broke and they scattered. We did her proud.

We buried Ginger under her favorite lilac bush and scattered some catnip seeds on top.

Back in the house, we told our favorite Ginger stories, like how she trained us to play fetch. She signaled her desire for you to throw her ball by dropping it in front of you. If your timing was good you could get a hand under the ball and say "Drop it, Ginger!" making her look really smart.

We drank tea and ate cookies--ginger snaps of course.

In the dream, when I told the story (most of which was true) my listeners doubled over in laughter at the baby carriage and drunken mice. Too bad the funeral was the fabricated part. You see, my dream-story compressed events. Ginger really was like this, and so were we; but she didn't die of grief over my dad, she lived for years with my mom and died (as cats do) by wandering off into the woods. So I never got to hold a requiem for her.

Until now.


The night before my dream, I'd read Jenny Badger Sultan's dream Peggy's Cake, in which Peggy returns from death as a cake rabbit... until Jenny eats her. Well, as it happens, I had known Peggy myself. This absurd reminder of her death provoked (I think) my dream of small animals and death. It taught me I still have unresolved feelings, decades later, about Ginger's death--and my dad's.



If this reads like oral storytelling, that's because it is. Lily lives nearby, and came to tell me this dream (with a slight Southern accent) right after she had it. I transcribed it on the spot.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: cats - rodents - kids - death - humor - truth and lies - literary dreams - more dreams by and about Lily - the dream that inspired this one: Peggy's Cake

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