to the Senior Cat - very important. He comes from a close knit clan. The dwindling number of "first cousins" still make contact with each other on a fairly regular basis. Given that they are in their 80's and 90's and scattered across the globe that's not bad.
But of course immediate family is even more important to him. My brother arrived yesterday. He lives in Sydney - half way across the country - and he will be here for only three days. He's come to see the Senior Cat and to do some maintenance I can't do. (Things which involve climbing ladders and the internal workings of computers feature on the list.)
Our neighbours across the road had also invited us to afternoon tea. We had accepted thinking my brother would not be here until late in the afternoon. It was the Senior Cat's first, tentative outing since falling over. Neighbour and I were watching him closely ready to take him home if necessary. Just as he was sitting comfortably in a chair their doorbell rang again. More visitors?
They weren't expecting any as the only other guests had already arrived.
It was Middle Cat. Our brother had arrived early. She had picked him up, knew where we were likely to be, and was now ringing the door bell.
Our neighbours, lovely people that they are, promptly said, "Stay for afternoon tea. There's more than enough." Yes, that basket of hot scones was piled high. There was butter. There were three different sorts of jam. There was a small mountain of cream.
It didn't take a lot of persuasion on the part of the neighbours. It gave my brother a chance to meet them properly.
And we sat around the table. We ate excellent scones and drank the pot dry more than once. There was conversation, good conversation. It lasted longer than we thought the Senior Cat would manage.
The Senior Cat was sitting next to his hostess. Late in the proceedings I saw him put his hand briefly on her arm. (They know one another well by now.) All he did was smile. She smiled back.
It's another sort of "family".