An Ode to Garfield the Cynical Cat

I was telling this story to a friend, and I thought the ending was quite amusing and she replied, “I’m still stuck on the fact that your mother loved Garfield.” So, we’ll start at the beginning.

My mother, the ex-nun, devout Catholic, and all around loving, sweet women even after Alzheimer’s chipped away much of what made her our mother, loved Garfield. That cynical, Monday-hating, lasagna-eating, and sleep-loving cat. It was one of those things that had been true for so long, I forgot that not everyone’s mother loved Garfield. That maybe not everyone had seen Garfield paraphernalia become a part of their childhood home after leaving, or as part of sorting through their mother’s things, had triaged Garfield t-shirts, dishware, baseball caps, stuffed versions of various sizes, including one with suction cups to stick to a car window, and a Garfield telephone.

She used to call me and my 3 siblings on that phone, but as she got older and her hearing got worse and cell phones became a thing, it sat on her desk, unused, but not unloved. When it came time to clean out our parents’ house, my sister hired a company that sorted the items into 3 categories: Sell (they gave us the proceeds), recycle, throw away. My parents were of modest means, so it’s not like there was going to be any high priced items appearing. I was pretty sure the coffee table and matching side tables from the 70s were going to sell — people are crazy about buying nostalgia. And I was right, it was one of the highest priced items sold.

“Guess the next highest priced thing that sold?” My sister texted us 3 siblings. We were all pretty much stumped.

“Mom’s Garfield phone sold for $65!” We all had a good laugh over that, and joked about how our mom had her finger on the pulse of pop culture. There was also something nice about the phone finding a happy home, maybe with a Garfield watch or a hand held video game. As something to remember her by, I had taken a Garfield baseball cap my mom often wore to the beach when she visited. After my sister’s text, I eyed it in a new light. But I reminded myself she loved the beach, and I had a picture of her at the beach wearing it. Besides, maybe by the time the kid was cleaning out my apartment, the hat would be worth 100 bucks. Best to keep it as a future investment.

So I thought that was it, but I had forgotten about another Garfield item we owned. Actually it belongs to the kid. My mom had a Garfield handkerchief that she made into a square pillow for him when he was about 11 or 12. He’s slept on it pretty much ever since. A few months ago he presented it to me, asking if I could fix it. The handkerchief was so worn it was translucent and the backing had frayed and ripped from the seams. There wasn’t even enough solid fabric left to Frankenstein hand stitch the thing.

My first thoughts went to preservation. Maybe we could find sheer fabric and cover it, so you could still see Garfield (sort of). Clearly out of my sewing depth, which is pretty much restricted to sewing buttons and curtain hems, I called in my other sister who had often sewed with our mom. Before I had even explained the situation and sent a photograph, she was sending me links from eBay of — you guessed it — brand new Garfield handkerchiefs. Pardon me, “Vintage 1978 Rare Garfield Handkerchiefs.” We each bought one, just in case. Just in case of what, I didn’t really think through. So that we could fix the pillow again in another 12 years? We could invest in an American pop icon? Our 2 purchases totaled about $60, so as far as the Garfield world balance accounting goes, we came out about even. But as far as the universe accounting?

When I visited my sister, we spent an afternoon conducting sewing forensics on how our mom had put the pillow together, laughed ourselves silly when we got some stitching backwards and had to redo it, and called upon her patience when we cut a few corners she never would have. We’re pretty sure she not only forgave us, but was laughing with us (or maybe at us).

So there you have it. A rejuvenated pillow, a connection with our mother, an ode to Garfield. And a spare handkerchief, just in case.


  1. What a nice way to remember Mom! I love Garfield too, Used to read it in the morning with a cup of coffee.

  2. Thanks so much, San, and I love that we added another memory layer to ‘the kid’s’ memory and our memory of Mom by you adding it your blog.❤️ (edit pls, Im tired and cant express clearly 😜)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s