Alex McRae Column

Missing both my Georges

by Alex McRae

The Heavenly choir has sounded a little sweeter since country music legend George Jones joined the tenor section.

What a singer. What a man. What a legend. I’ll miss the music for sure, but old Possum’s passing had special meaning for me.

I didn’t just like George Jones. I thought enough of him to name my cat after him. For me, that’s big.

Back in 1996 I had so many problems, I was jealous of Job, the Old Testament’s all-time master of misery. The Olympics were being held in Atlanta and I knew if they had a competition for losers, I’d walk away with the Gold Medal.

Then I became the owner of two, 8-week old kittens, a boy and a girl. I didn’t need a kitten, much less two, but figured that, if nothing else, they’d be good entertainment.

I equipped my place with “his” and “her” litter boxes then set about the serious business of choosing names. Music has always had a special place in my heart and I decided to name my kitties after a boy/girl duet.

Donnie and Marie Osmond didn’t rate a second thought. Neither did Paul and Paula. I adored Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, but for my money the best duo to ever moan across a microphone at each other were George Jones and Tammy Wynette. No contest.

My cats were christened George and Tammy, and for over 15 years I was blessed to have them in my life. I can’t count the nights those two felt like the only friends I had.

Tammy had a Southern Belle’s charm and a whine like a loose fan belt, but I have to admit George was my favorite. I don’t know why. Maybe because we both understood and enjoyed the mysteries boys don’t share with girls.

He was my buddy through good times and bad. The day George went to Heaven I cried like a baby. And now his namesake has slipped away, too.

Everybody loved to hear George Jones sing, but fans enjoyed his antics as much as his music. If he wasn’t falling in or out of love, George was falling off the wagon. He was bad to drink and before he sobered up for good was as likely to miss a performance as be there.

You weren’t a die-hard George Jones fan unless the man nicknamed “No Show” had left you staring at an empty stage with a ticket stub in your hand.

He will be missed. Not just by country music fans, but by anybody who loves life and admires the people who aren’t afraid to live it to the hilt.

George’s ex-wives loved to tell stories about the time (or two or three) he got so drunk they stole his car keys only to look out the window and see George cruising to the nearest bar or liquor store on his riding lawnmower.

My cat George liked lawnmowers, too, and enjoyed “helping” me cut the grass. Every time I’d crank up the riding mower, George would give me a look and sneak off. It wasn’t long before I’d find him sprawled in the middle of the biggest patch of uncut grass in the yard. I’d roll up to him, rev the motor and wait. And wait. He never moved a muscle.

I’d finally mow around him or pick him up and set him somewhere else. We both loved it.

If George Jones gets a riding lawnmower in Heaven and comes across a fat orange cat blocking his path, I hope he’ll pick up my old buddy and drive him down those streets of gold. I think both Georges would be thrilled to death.



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