written & illustrated by Karen Lough
Karina had been to visit her mother, who was old and lived alone. Karina was now in the car and on her way home. It had been a lovely visit. The fall days were cool and the air crisp as the apples she bought from the roadside stand. They had gone to a craft fair together. It was a family tradition between the two of them, that they go together every year.
In her trunk was a wooden push-toy duck with rubber inner-tube feet that flapped as it rolled along. She would give this to her youngest grandson Sam. Isaac, who was three, and loved trains, would get the wooden train with real logs. For Julianne who was five, she had gotten a hand -made necklace with J on the pendent.
As Karina drove she thought of these treasures for the ones she loved and of the joy she would have giving these gifts to them.
About this time, she absently looked in her rear view mirror and was startled to see a rather scruffy, black kitten rolling on the pavement from behind her car. The van following Karina managed to straddle the kitten! The last Karina saw, it was running frantically toward the tall grass on the side of the road.
A cat! That was what she and her mother had heard thumping around in the closed-up garage at night! That was what had left little â€˜giftsâ€™ that her mother had cleaned up each morning. They had been suspicious, thinking surely it was a cat but now she knew! A black cat! Well, a kitten really. It was not a baby kitten but a kitten who had grown some.
Midnight sat by the side of the road in the tall grass a little stunned and a lot dizzy. What had just happened? The last midnight remembered he had been lying, watching the road pass beneath him. The next he knew he was rolling on the hard pavement trying to dodge tires. Whew!
That was exciting and dangerous, but exciting! The feeling of the danger seemed to wrap around him as he began to feel the effects of his roller-coastering on the road. “Don’t care to do that again,” he thought as he headed away from the road.
The next morning Midnight had had enough of the traveling life. Midnight wanted a home. Deep in a valley in wild country where owls hoot into the dusk and hunt at night, where mice are thick and sometimes rats are a problem,
Midnight crawled up on a rickety porch where a swing was hanging and an old hound dog was sleeping. There Midnight napped with the unaware dog.
Along about dusk when the owls began to call to one another, a car pulled into the yard. The hound shot like a bullet to the opening car door.
â€œWell, hello Red. How are ya boy? You glad to see me? Come on in the house and weâ€™ll get you something to eat.â€? The kitten watched the man and the dog go into the house and close the door. The man limped and he looked worn and tired. They did not notice the kitten.
As night descended, the door opened. The man was telling the dog, “Go catch a rat boy, get them rats!” Midnight’s hair raised around his neck. Adventure! He followed the dog. The nights that followed were nights of learning. He watched the dog. What the dog did with the rats Midnight did with the mice only in a quiet way. Midnight snuck up on them. He could find whole nests of them. He was full.
Mornings he would take the biggest one and lay it at the man’s door. The man began watching. He began to put out milk and to talk to Midnight when he saw him at a distance. He would not let the dog hurt him. “You’re my best mouser. Red, he don’t mess with the mice, but you do! “
Midnight did not know but the man was tired because he was in pain. It was hard for him to walk. The man had been in despair. He had tried to rid his small cabin and shop of the rodents but it was all he could do to work all day and come home to fix supper for himself and his dog at night. This black kitten had given him hope. The man felt as if God himself had sent the kitten to him. The man began to love Midnight because he had tried so hard to be accepted, to help. The man understood this struggle to fit in, to be a part of something, to contribute, to be considered of value, and the man loved the kitten for it. The kitten had showed the man his own struggle and had been victorious. Hope was gained.
After Karina arrived home and had unloaded her car, called
her husband to tell him she
had arrived safely and felt ‘home’ once more, she glanced
out the windows to the deck where she saw, much to her amazement, a rather scruffy totally black kitten.
baby kitten mind you but one that had grown some.
Karina called her
husband and told him about the second
kitten. Then she called her son and told him. They both said,
“There were two
kittens and one rode all the way home!”
The kitten that Karina saw on her deck was Tom, although Karina did not know his name. He was licking his mouth after having discovered and finished the scraps Karina’s husband put out for the neighborhood dogs. Tom had indeed ridden the hours-long way from Karina’s mother’s house.
It had been a grand adventure. Tom had finished his nap and was now pleased to see a country of grass
and trees and pond before him. It was a grand world and Tom was ready to explore it!
Not many days after Tom checked out his new territory, he awoke from his afternoon nap to the sounds of children playing on the porch. A little girl, a small blond boy and a barely walking baby. The littlest had a very interesting toy that flapped as it moved. And Tom, being the cat that he was, bounded from under the deck to the porch to check it out. Shouts of delight greeted his attempts to catch those flapping feet which soon became bare toes and reaching arms.
The children loved and adored Tom. He became a treasured memory of their childhood although he was never aware of it.
The evening after her daughter left, Miss Ida opened the door to the mewing on the other side. There she saw a pitiful scruffy black cat. A kitten, yes, but one who had grown some.
Miss Ida was alone. Her son lived in the next town over and he loved her as she loved him but he had a family of his own and was busy, so sometimes her evenings became long and lonely. Miss Ida had, of late, felt this loneliness keenly at times and had begun to pray asking the Lord what she should do about this need in her life. And now this kitten was at her door, lonely and afraid, pleading for help. She rather saw herself in this little kitten and her heart went out to it and she took it in.
Earlier that afternoon, Miss Ida had gotten a call from her daughter, “Mom, I think I got rid of your cat for you, and guess what? There were two of them!” The next morning Miss Ida called her daughter, “Karina, there were three of them because I have one here!” Weeks after Miss Ida opened the door and days after Karina’s grandchildren played with Tom, Karina got a call from her son, “Mom, You know the little black cat you told me about that fell out of your car? Well, I think I may have it here at my cabin! Good mouser too!”
Hanging up the phone, Karina felt the hand of God and then she heard him speak her name, “I will never leave you or forsake you - not you or your Mom or your son or your grandchildren. Before you call I will answer. Was I not aware of your mother’s loneliness, your son’s struggle, your grandchildren’s need for wonderful memories? Did I not provide for your concerns? I know the plans I have for you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Karina fell to her knees in adoration of this God who makes himself known to us in the minutest ways.
He uses kittens! What a revelation! Nothing is wasted. He uses all things in his creation to comfort us and speak to us, if we will but listen.
This is a mostly true tale. There were three black cats. One did ride the five hour journey home with me. I did see one fall from my car. One was at my mother’s door. My son did make a friend of a stray cat who became a very good mouser. And God does have plans for each and every one of us. - Jeremiah 29:11 I wish to dedicate this book to my family; many who appear in this book in one form or another. I wish to thank my husband, who enjoyed his first reading and encouraged me to illustrate, and then maybe even some day publish. I want to thank David & Sarah for giving me Julianne, Isaac & Sam, who bring such delight. Without Sarah’s excellent help, this book would still be in my computer, pencil and ink on paper. I thank Jonathan for himself, his colorful valley, & Red the dog. Especially to my mother; but for her, I would not have enjoyed the fair or experienced either of the Trinities.
© 2011 Karen Lough