“I’ll get right on it,” she said. This relaxed me for she was an outstanding visualizer.
I waited through the rest of May and all of June. July dawned, stultifying all of us in Stillwater with hot and humid weather. On July 3, 1991, Eliza disappeared. I roamed the neighborhood, calling her name. She didn’t come home that night. The next day I wandered farther afield, calling, calling, feeling my heart clutching within me.
That evening I went to a copying shop to print flyers in which I offered a reward for her safe return. The following morning, I left the house at 8 a.m. and began to walk an eight-square-block area, thumb-tacking a flyer on each telephone pole.
Around 1 p.m. I returned home to nap for an hour. Quickly I fell into a deep sleep. Grief and tiredness had taken their toll.
Dulcy and I at the birdbath.
Sometime later, the phone rang. I woke, groggy and a little disorientated. I’d been dreaming about Dulcy and didn’t want to left go of her presence. I reached for the phone and croaked out, “Hello.”
A voice began to speak. For the first minute or so, only an occasional word or phrase impinged the fog within my brain. “ . . . Jane . . . happy to . . . hardcover . . . thinking of illustrating . . . like you to add . . . .” Then, suddenly, surprising, amazingly, I heard a word so earth shattering that the fog vanished and thought rushed in.
“Wait!” I shouted. “Wait a minute! Start over. I was taking a nap! I haven’t heard a word you’ve said! Did you say ‘contract’?”
Now I’m sitting upright on the bed, the phone pressed to my ear. Attentive. Verging on giggles. Smiling wide in disbelief.
Yes, it was Jane Meara—“Call me Jane, please.” She “loved” the book. All I needed to do was add a brief section about taking Dulcy for shots. Jane wanted readers to realize how necessary this was. I confessed to her that I’d never done that, but I could see her point and would be happy to add a scene in the vet’s office.
She said she’d put the contract in the mail to me on Monday. I thanked her and then gave her my deal-breaker. The cover of Dulcy’s story had to say, “As given to Dee Ready.” Only then would I sign the contract. She asked me why this was so important. I explained that I hadn’t written the book. I’d only edited it.
Jane graciously assured me that the line would be on the cover. She proved just as gracious in all our future dealings.
After we finished our phone call, I called my friend. “Tell me,” I said. “How did you visualize me hearing from Jane Meara?”
“Every day since you called, I’ve been seeing you come home with groceries. You put the car in the garage. You carry two sacks across your side yard toward the house. You hear the phone ring as you reach for the porch door handle. You drop the sacks and rush in to answer the phone and hear the good news!”
The garage, side yard, and porch
of my 1870 lumberjack home in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Whatever the scenario, I was getting a contract! Details were mere piffle.
After sharing the good news with her, I got ready to post more flyers. With thumbtacks, flyers, a thermos of water, and an apple in my backpack, I locked the front door and turned toward the street. There, padding up the front steps was Eliza Doolittle. Hungry. Exhausted. Disgruntled.
Eliza Doolittle on top of kitchen cabinets. Aggrieved.
I concluded that she’d been in a neighbor’s garage since the morning of July 3. The owner must have gone away for a few days and returned on the afternoon of the 6th.
The call from Jane. The offer of the contract. The return of the prodigal feline all took place on July 6, 1991, the two-year anniversary of Dulcy’s death.
She just kept giving me gifts.
(Continued on Saturday . . . )
PS: Besides the usual holiday activities, I am in the midst of copyediting a lengthy manuscript for a Minnesota client. The deadline for completing it is next Tuesday, so I’m going to work long hours between now and then. Because of this commitment, I won’t be reading blogs or commenting on them until next Wednesday. I will miss reading your wonderful blogs, but I’ll catch up on all your postings in the days after the manuscript goes in the mail. Thank you, in advance, for your understanding.