A snippet from my family memoir-in-progress, Missing Dad:
Easter was always huge in our family. We celebrated both Orthodox and regular Easter, because Dad was Catholic, and Mom Greek Orthodox. Mom’s birthday and my sister Janet’s birthday are in April, and my sister Barbara’s birthday is in March. At least one of those birthdays would fall close to at least one of the Easters every year.
One year not too long after Frank and I were married—it must have been a year where both Easters, or one Easter and a birthday, fell on the same day—my folks had a full house, with lots of guests beyond our immediate family. My mother-in-law and her friend Tom were there, Janet and Walter and Walter’s folks, Nancy and her then-boyfriend and a couple of his relatives, Barbara, our brother John. Every chair in every room had someone in it. There had to be close to twenty people in the house.
My parents made lamb, and ham, and all the accoutrements. They had two black and white cats then, Sunny and Tippy (or, as Frank and I called them, Cattus Fattus Major and Cattus Fattus Minor). Sunny and Tippy were incredibly sneaky, even for cats. Throughout the preparation and serving of the Easter meal (on at least 3 tables in at least two rooms), they darted and lurked, darted and lurked, waiting for their moment.
Everyone ate their fill, and (groaning with both pleasure and pain) rose from and left their respective tables. In the moments between the departures from the table and the arrival of the cleanup crew (Janet and me), Frank spied the two cats s..l..o..w..l..y making their way to the seats under the table in the small dining room. They could smell the platters of meats, but not see them from their vantage point under the table.
Then, Frank saw it: a black paw slowly rose up over the table’s edge, like a periscope examining the horizon. It patted around on the table, found a platter, patted some more, found the meat. The paw tapped a small morsel of ham ever so lightly, and then retracted. Frank looked under the table to see Sunny sniffing what would come to be known as The Periscope Paw. The black paw came up again, as the cats readied for launch…and were thwarted by the return of the cleanup crew.