This evening I was telling my knitting diva friend and others about my parents’ favorite children’s book, “Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm” by the Provensens. The stories about all of the animals that live on the farm are entertaining, heartwarming, sad, and funny as all get out.
I thought that my friend would especially love the cat stories, and I told her so. She has cats that have taken up at her home, and some that most likely have been dropped off there. No matter, she takes good care of them and makes sure they are all fixed–which is no small feat. As we were talking about the mischievousness of the cats in the Maple Hill Farm book, I told them about my Mama’s favorite part. At least I think it was. She quoted it often enough.
In the book, one cat or another would bring a little mouse or squirrel tails or other little “gifts” up to the house. It’s the way they said “I love you.” But as the authors write, “It’s not a pretty sight.” Over the many years of our many cats leaving various and sundry small, formerly alive critters and various and sundry body parts on our back steps, I heard Mama say it often. As though finding these gifts is just a part of life.
And I suppose it is.
My friend laughed over that line, and said that she knew that feeling only too well.
“The other night I woke up to find a gift right here.” She motioned toward her upper stomach, right below her heart. “It was a live bird.”
“What did you do?” We all wanted to know.
“Oh, I got up and took the poor thing outside. It was a live bird. I hope it still is.”
Bless her. She’s a retired schoolteacher who possibly works harder now than she did when she was teaching. I so want to be her when I grow up. That live bird didn’t faze her a bit. She’s just that awesome.
And me being me, I then asked her what she’d do if she woke up and found they’d brought her a baby snake, and she shrugged and replied, “Take it outside. Snakes don’t bother me.”
Have I mentioned how awesome she is? And brave.
Her story made me think of a one from a ways back.
Many years ago, I was working for Hospice as a social worker and bereavement therapist. One of my co-workers was working with a precious man and his wife. The man was our patient, and he was a delightful country fellow who wore a sock hat nearly all the time. I expect it was to keep his head warm, but I don’t know for sure. One day when my friend was visiting the family, the wife, who was in another room, asked her husband what he was doing. He hollered out, “Just sitting here loving you. What else you want me to do?”
Bless him. Bless. Him.
Over the years that became a great line for us to share. I love it.
And as I listened to my wonderfully gifted and giving friend tonight, I figured that’s exactly what those cats were thinking too. Bless those kitties’ hearts. They just wanted to repay her for all she’s done for them. It was their way of saying, “I’m just sitting here loving you. Here’s a gift. What else you want me to do?”
Life is like that, isn’t it? We give gifts that we put thought into, but sometimes the gifts fall short of what might have been more suitable ones. Or we are given something that the giver put so much thought and energy and time “hunting” down, and we are all “ummm, thank you so much,” and we release it back into “the wild” as soon as possible. It’s just funny like that.
When all we really, really want down deep inside is someone sitting over there loving us. It just doesn’t get much better than that.