The Christmas Kitten
Growing up on a farm, animals are a part of every country child’s life, and mine was no exception. I have known many cows, horses, geese and even turkeys, but it’s a little bob-tailed kitten that has made the greatest impression on my heart.
Cats are everywhere on dairy farms, and my parent’s farm was no different. Most of them are considered partners in the business, and seldom does anyone become attached to one. They have their job on the farm, just as we had our own.
Even though I had moved away from the farm where I grew up, I was still a frequent visitor, since I lived only a few miles away from my parents. Often I would go over after work for a few minutes before going home.
That particular fall and winter, we watched helplessly as my father’s health declined. He’d had a stroke ten years before and had not regained his health. His mind was still sharp, and I grew to appreciate him during those years to a degree that I never had before. My family knew that his time on this earth was limited, and he could go at anytime, yet still it was a shock to get a telephone call at four in the morning to tell me that he had passed away that night in his sleep.
I raced over to be with my family, but there was little to be done except to hold one another.
During the next few days, I was in a daze as we made arrangements for the funeral and interment. We buried Dad on December 23. Afterward, the family and friends gathered at the farmhouse to remember and comfort one another. I was cold inside. I refused to cry or let myself show any emotion. I was determined that no one would talk afterward about how I fell apart. I still don’t know how I made it through those days without expressing how I was feeling.
As I walked to my car that late afternoon, flakes of snow drifted down on the cold breeze. The silence was suddenly broken by a loud demanding meow. I looked down to see a small bob-tailed kitten at my feet. Her eyes were matted and her back end was covered in manure. Suddenly, I found myself reaching down, and picked up the kitten, saying, “No you are not going to die. Death will not visit this house again, if I have anything to do with it.” I knew the she would indeed die if I left her there, for cats were an expendable item at the farm, and my family laughed at anyone paying good money to a vet to help one live.
Good money or not, the next day found me at my veterinarian’s office with the kitten, who was complaining so loudly I needed to plug my ears, for she had a voice that would be the envy of an opera diva. It turned out that she had a bronchial infection, diarrhea, worms and was seriously underweight.
I kept her isolated from my other cats. When I went in to give her antibiotics she crawled up my chest, and I would find myself cradling her as though she were a human baby. I cried for her, even as I comforted her. As Bobbi healed and grew to be a beautiful, loving feline, I healed as well, for as I allowed myself to cry for her, thereby finally releasing my pent-up emotions.
Five months later, she allowed me to bury my face in her fur again when my mother followed my father to the other side.
Today, my Christmas kitty is a loving tabby, who’s voice makes the windows rattle. She continues to shower me with her love. I find that sometimes when I am hurting, and don’t know how to express my hurt that somehow she knows and crawls up on my chest to fall asleep healing me, even as she purrs in her sleep.
– Merry Liteheart
Orwell, Ohio, U. S. A.