I don’t know whether you can tell from this image, but the postcard follows the contours of the burro and his silly photoshopped hat.
Several years ago my mom sent it to my daughter and me from Arizona. She affixed a regular postage stamp to it, but the post office stamped a “12¢ postage due” message on the back, maybe because its irregular shape required special sorting methods.
By the time my parents took this trip, my father was in his 80s and my mom in her late 70s. I can date the card even though the postmark isn’t legible because of Mom’s reference to our cat Junior, short for Mickey Jr. Clues like that not only help us sort incidents into our lives’ chronologies, but trigger reminiscences to cascade like dominoes through our family histories until another story pops out. Not necessarily grand tales, the stuff of sagas and best-selling biographies, but little stories like the history of cats being named Mickey in my family.
When my parents drove east to California as a young couple, they smuggled in and out of motel rooms an orange kitten named Mickey. In a sense, he was their first child, and as such we have many photos of his kittenhood, including one of him sitting on the plaid upholstery of my dad’s prized Packard.
I remember Mickey as the old gentleman of my childhood as younger cats and kittens came and went in our household, living the free — yet dangerous — lives of outdoor cats on a busy street.
When I was given a new fluffy orange kitten of my very own, I named him Mickey Junior. He was a polydactl, seven toes on each of his front paws. Mom called them his baseball mitts. That first Junior lived with my parents until the ripe old cat age of 19.
A few years later, I visited the shelter to find a friend for my Siamese and brought home a white cat with orange spots and an orange striped tail, enough for me to dub him Mickey 3. And so it has gone, my daughter calling her orange kitten Mickey Junior and our collectively naming our current orange fluff ball Mickey Lu (after the friend who gave him to us), though we simply call him Kitten.
That little story of the five Mickeys encompasses a half century, from the British rock invasion of the 60s to Neil Armstrong landing on the moon to my heading off to college and Australia to home computers, the Internet and blogging.
And it all leads to me sharing a postcard from my mom: Hi from Arizona.