In memory of Lucky, age 17, who passed away last night. We miss you, Lucky.
|I believe in miracles, plain and simple. But, are there plain and simple miracles? I believe that, too. Miracles come in many forms and in many ways to each of us; we just have to be attuned to them, and be watchful in our everyday lives.
For example, there was the time when our cat, Lucky (who was not quite five years old at the time) disappeared from our house on a cold, blustery January day. He opened the sliding glass door, and stepped out to investigate the world around him.
His natural cat curiosity may have gotten the better of him, but he should have at least checked the weather forecast before venturing forth. He chose a wet, windy and rather raw weekend to leave us. And leave us, he did
It wasn’t just the weather we were worried about. Lucky wasn't used to being outside. (Even indoors, he preferred to be lying right next to the heat duct). Then there was the possibility of all sorts of animals in the woods that he could fall prey to. What would he eat? Lucky loved to eat but was partial to chicken, especially chicken cut up in tiny bits for him. Even though I was trying to keep everyone's mood as positive as possible, I knew the danger was very real.
We spent the entire weekend looking for him. Throughout the day on Saturday, we busied ourselves by focusing on our only goal: find Lucky before the bad weather turned even worse.
My son, Jeff, was fourteen at the time. Lucky was his cat, a gift from Walter and me on his tenth birthday. Jeff was broken-hearted about the loss of the cat he had wished for since he was a small boy, the cat who had grown up with him.
I thought back to that first night in our house, when Lucky was such a tiny bundle of fur with very blue eyes. I remembered the ride home after we chose Lucky, (or was it the other way around?). He clung desperately to Jeff with his tiny claws piercing his tee shirt as Jeff tried to calm him down with whispered words and soothing strokes of kindly love. Upon his arrival home, the first instant his paws hit the floor, Lucky raced to the end table and surveyed the room from under its protective shelf.
To ease his fears, Jeff slept with him on the floor of his room for the first several nights. These memories urged me on to do what I could to find him.
So, on and off throughout the day, Walter and Jeff put on their boots and heavy jackets and walked through the woods in the back of our property, hoping that Lucky would magically appear despite the torrential rains and biting, heavy winds that visited havoc upon the area.
In the meantime, I worked the phone, calling area vets and shelters to see if Lucky had landed himself there. No such luck. No such Lucky.
On Sunday, our searching continued, but still with the same discouraging results. By Sunday night, we were planning our strategy for Monday. Walter and Jeff would go to the animal shelter in town before school. Grandma had taken Jeff there yesterday, but it was closed, and they couldn't see all the cats from peeking in the window. They would go there, and if he wasn't there, they'd file a report and a description, in case Lucky showed up later.
Hope faded, as did daylight on Sunday. Tomorrow, it was back to school and work and we wouldn’t be able to search with the intensity that we had during the weekend.
Monday morning brought more wind, more rain but no Lucky. Walt went outside, calling Lucky’s name, but was only answered by the howling wind.
Lucky was not at the shelter, so a report was filed. Walter took Jeff to school, and returned home to make a flyer, describing Lucky. He delivered these flyers to every house on our street, and the surrounding streets around us.
Monday passed with no word from either the shelters, or from the neighbors, about Lucky. I phoned in a "Lost and Found" ad to the local newspaper. We all said some prayers that Lucky was all right. Jeff said it best: "Not knowing if he's OK is the worst part. If I just knew he was safe, in a house somewhere." he left the rest of the sentence unfinished.
Tuesday passed; still no word about (or from) Lucky. Our worries increased as weather for the following four days was forecasted to be extremely cold, windy weather, with a snowstorm on Friday.
Wednesday came and there was still no sign of Lucky. The weather began its downward trend. By suppertime, the bone-chilling wind whistled through the bare branches of the trees at the rear of our yard, an ever-present reminder that our little cat was out there somewhere, lost, scared and shivering from the cold.
“Time for one last call to the shelter before it closes,” I thought to myself.
“County Animal Shelter,” said the bored voice on the other end of the phone. I recognized it as the same monotone voice of the man I had been speaking to every day since Friday.
“Uh, hi, again,” I tried to maintain my composure. “I was just checking to see if anyone has brought in a white and gray tabby.”
There was an audible sigh. “No, no one has brought in a gray and white tabby.” It was again said in the same monotone with which I was greeted, but there was a sarcastic edge to it that I didn’t like.
“I’m sorry to keep bothering you,” I said by way of an apology. “But I’m desperate to find my son’s cat.”
Instead of dissuading him from continuing with his sarcasm, this seemed only to egg him on. “Well, why don’t you say a prayer to St. Francis, then?” he sneered.
I knew this wasn’t meant as a comforting suggestion, but I wasn’t about to let him know that.
“Thank you. I will.”
I hung up the phone, and decided that this, indeed, was a great idea. Clearly, I wasn’t making any headway on my own. I--we-- needed some Divine intervention.
I had a few moments of quiet solitude in which to make my plea to St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. He would help, if I asked. I knew it; I felt it. Then I looked out the window into the gloomy darkness of a winter’s night. I heaved a heavy sigh. The wind howled back as its answer, as I returned to making dinner.
I said my little prayer to St. Francis of Assisi as dinner preparations were stopped temporarily. We sat at the table and talked of what we would do tomorrow in case there was no response from either the neighborhood flyers or the newspaper ad. Then I thought I heard a faint cry outside. It was hard to tell because of the wind. Then I heard it again.
"Listen!" I said, excitedly, straining to hear it again. "I think I hear Lucky! I think he's on the deck!"
NATURALLY, no one believed me. Walter and Jeff both scoffed at the idea, thinking it was just my imagination working overtime. Then Walter said, "Wait. I think I hear it, too."
That was it! That was all they needed. They both jumped into action. Jeff ran to the dining room doors that lead to the deck. Walter ran down to the family room, and got to the deck from the opposite direction. Sure enough, Lucky was huddled in a corner. But when he saw them, his fright increased, and he jumped off the deck, and ran to hide under our neighbor's deck. When they were catching up to him there, he ran under the neighbor's car. Again, Walter and Jeffrey surrounded him. He tried to run past Walter, who managed to grab the cat as he ran past him.
He brought Lucky into the house. There was much excitement and celebrating going on downstairs. I was expecting to see an emaciated, dirty, wet and trembling cat. As he strolled up the six stairs to the kitchen, I was amazed to see that he was perfectly dry and clean!
It was, Walter said, as if Lucky had just come back from a Club Med vacation. We marveled at how resourceful he was to protect himself from the wind-driven rain from the previous weekend.
The only sign that he had been away was that he was very, VERY hungry. Apparently, if he HAD caught anything to eat, no one showed up to cut it into small enough pieces for him to eat, so he did without, instead!! Ironically, for dinner that night we had roasted chicken--Lucky's very favorite. He ate until he could eat no more.
Lucky followed Jeff's every move that night, and every night for a long to time to follow. He made himself more sociable, as if to say, "Look, I'm HERE. If I'm not around, start LOOKING for me!"
When they went upstairs to Jeff’s room, I stopped, and murmured a prayer of thanks to St. Francis for the return of a our little cat who truly needed a miracle--actually, we all needed one.
We are very grateful for our everyday miracle.