Frankie and Johnnie

By John F. Rifenberg


Our new bundle of joy is to arrive on Valentine’s Day. It’s the day of love, chocolate, roses, and dinner at our favorite restaurant. And maybe if the moon and stars are just right, romance.  Our family is expanding and it’s been an interesting experience so far.

Our friends and relatives were quite surprised that at our age or hinting at my age that we would be doing something like this. Frankie’s age is unknown and my age is given away by what’s left of my hair and a color that is an ugly shade of gray. Advice has come from everyone from our mailman to the butcher at the meat market. Our neighbors (I mean the men) see me around the neighborhood and they all have families, point their finger (not their index finger) at me and laugh. I guess there’s a hidden meaning somewhere in their actions.

Frankie and I asked our close friends what we could expect. We found out that they need to eat every day! So we have to buy food for this new addition to our family? They will get bigger and have a voice, louder then we think. When they get older they require instruction on how to go to the bathroom. That sounds like something in Frankie’s wheelhouse. They need to go to the doctors for check-ups, and need toys to play with. Who’s going to pay for all of this? Should we paint the spare bedroom and what color? It’s all worth it just to see the excitement on Frankie’s face when she talks about it. We are just like most people; we don’t care if it’s a boy or girl, just as long as it’s healthy. I thought it would be nice to have one of each, a boy and a girl. Frankie thinks that would be too much for me to handle. I think she is trying to tell me something.

It was time to find a name. I didn’t want to have a fancy name with some crazy spelling. I know this is the fad for the younger generation. Frankie (Florence) and I decided to stay with a family name. Francis was chosen. This name has been in our family for three generations, and now a fourth. I’m very happy with the choice.

*           *           *        *        *          *

One morning I looked out my office window and there he sat a little white ball of fur with a grey face that found his way into our backyard. He had this voice calling me, demanding his breakfast. I didn’t even know that I could speak cat. A year later that kitten has grown into a full size Siamese cat. We are thrilled that he lets us live in his kingdom. Plus, now we get to feed him and worry about him when he’s not here guarding his palace. So on this day of love, roses and cards, we celebrate this Valentine’s Day as Francis’ first birthday. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with lots of love from Frankie and Johnnie and our son, Francis the cat.


John Rifenberg is co-chairman of the writing group of Royal Palm Beach. He has just finished his newest book “The Alphabet Out of Order,” which is an assortment of stories and poems, including his award winning short stories.