I'm going to tell you a story because
I find it to be a sweet one.
My friends Jessica and Jebb attempted to take in
a stray cat some months ago-
a female, and shy to say the least.
She would only come around for food but not allow herself
to be touched,
would not venture close or stay long.
She had several litters of kittens,
all of which Jessica and Jebb fed regularly.
All of whom stayed distant albeit nearby,
and who are grown now.
The mother cat slowly warmed up,
gradually drawing closer and
allowing herself to be pet.
She even began coming inside.
They named her Alberta.
One night, Alberta came to the door with a present in her mouth.
Assuming it was a mouse or bird,
Jessica was stunned to find it was a newborn kitten.
Alberta carried it inside and nursed,
stayed an hour or so,
then left again.
She reappeared a bit later with a second kitten in her mouth,
again stayed for awhile, and left.
She brought them four kittens that night.
The five cats stayed with Jess and Jebb for several weeks.
Alberta continued her inside-outside lifestyle,
coming in to warm up and tend to the kittens.
Alberta's breathing changed.
A severe uterine infection had developed that, to treat,
would require extensive and expensive surgery.
Even then, there was no guarantee the surgery would work,
the vet said,
or that the infection the only problem.
Jessica called me late Friday night in tears.
They had had to have Alberta put down.
Four playful and healthy kittens remained.
Unbeknownst to me,
Keith had already arranged for us to adopt the spotted gray male.
The furball showed up with a green raffia ribbon around his neck,
in an old wine box that Keith claimed we needed to repurpose.
I found the kitten when I opened the box lid.
Happy 29th birthday to me.
So we have one of the four,
and the other three will stay where they are
until they find good homes.
The whole situation was bittersweet and heart-warming;
knowing that Alberta had brought
her kittens in out of the cold,
and had made sure they were safe and cared for.
As Jessica said,
it just seems as if it were all supposed to happen this way.
One of those minor everyday miracles-
something that could easily be dismissed as coincidence,
but which seems all the more poignant and significant
at this time of year.
Here he is-
on the night he came home.
He has no name yet-
just as it took me forever to name Wilbur,
I'm waiting for the cat to essentially name himself.
He has some lungs, this one does.
He squalls something fierce when not being cuddled,
played with, or fed.
He's so small that to keep from stepping on him,
I tied a miniature cowbell around his neck.
Between the bell and his vocals,
we were thinking of naming him Bellow-
but I'm not yet convinced.
It's officially a full house, with two dogs and two cats,
But everyone seems to be getting along splendidly.
(Incidentally, if Keith is home, I don't see the kitten.
I think he's more smitten than even I am.)
Christmas came a bit early here.
I hope your holiday is every bit as warm and bright.