Story by Matthew deLuca
For Quincy (My Miracle)
Hello Friends, my name is Vernon. This story is about me and my wife, Elsie, and our four-legged family member, Midnight, a beautiful black Cat.
It all started about two weeks before Halloween. Elsie and I had just come back from our annual trip to Crabtree's Pumpkin Patch, where we go and pick our Jack O'Lanterns. We are ole' timers, Elsie and I, but we are still kids at heart. That's what keeps us young.
We had a fantastic day, Elsie and I. We got up early, and got great round, ripe and robust pumpkins ....right off of the vine.
On the way home, we even stopped at "Irving's", a cafe that has THE best Pumpkin pie in town. Ah yes....a fresh piece of pumpkin pie, right out of the oven, along with a piping hot cup of apple cider, with a cinnamon stick slowly melting in it. Does life get any better?
It does, as Elsie and I were about to find out....
You see...when we got home from our day full of picking pumpkins and indulging in pumpkin pie and apple cider, we were getting out of our old rusting car,....we were looking to quickly get in the house to get away from the chill that we caught from the cool Autumn winds, when all of a sudden, we saw a black Cat slowly coming up to us..........Elsie was the first to notice him: "Oooh, look Vernon.......a beautiful black Cat!".
I took one look and replied: "Awww, he is beautiful indeed, Elsie!". Elsie and I, like I said, are old timers. We have no use for silly superstitions. To think that some humans would see a black Cat and actually think that they will be unlucky. Ha Ha! How ridiculous! As if the color of a cat's hair determines whether someone is lucky or unlucky! I suppose that I should be careful not to step on a crack, in order to protect my Mother from breaking her back! Ha Ha! Let me tell you something, friends, I have stepped on crack after crack and not once has my Mom had any problems with her back. In fact, before she went to paradise, she remarked at how well her body had held up all those years.
So much for nonsensical superstitions! And the one about black cats is even more absurd than the one about your mother's back! Elsie and I knew better than to believe foolish urban legends. We knew the truth: We had just been graced by the presence of a precious living soul, and whether his fur is black, white, orange, or any other color, makes no difference, as far as "being lucky or unlucky" goes!
We saw our new four-legged friend for who he was: A fellow child of God, deserving of the same love, caring, respect, and dignity as the rest of us.
We saw that our new friend (We named him "Midnight" because of his beautiful black fur) was hungry and thirsty. Elsie and I both had the impression that the poor soul had not eaten for a day or two.
As luck would have it, we had just purchased some cans and a bag of cat food at the local grocery store, because we enjoyed feeding the neighbor's cat, Miracle.
Elsie and I felt sorry for Miracle, because our neighbor, Mrs. Billingsley, didn't consider Miracle, to be her responsibility. You see, Miracle was born when Mrs. Billingsley's cat, Shnookums, got pregnant by one of the neighborhood Tomcats. Elsie and I tried to tell Mrs. Billingsley that Miracle was her responsibility, because she didn't have Shnookums spayed, like a responsible companion animal guardian would have, and thus, Miracle was her responsibility. (Miracle's brothers and sisters were given to Mrs. Billingsley's grandchildren, who love cats). Mrs. Billingsley had kept Miracle, and to this day, we wonder WHY, because she doesn't treat him like he deserves to be treated. Miracle spends his time outdoors, even in hot and cold weather. Elsie and I HATE the thought of Miracle shivering in the cold December winds, or panting during July's fierce heat waves. Don't get us wrong....cats can survive happily outside, but Miracle was a former indoor only cat, until He arrived at Mrs. Billingsley's and all of a sudden found himself outside now.
So, Elsie and I decided that, even though Miracle was technically Mrs. Billingsley's cat, we'd help to make his life a bit easier and safer. Don get us wrong, Mrs. Billingsley wasn't a mean woman....she was just ignorant of the fact that, whether we walk on two legs or on four legs, we are all created by the same Heavenly, Spiritual DNA: God's love.
Mrs. Billingsley gave Miracle enough food to keep him alive, but to Elsie and I, cats and dogs are family, and who would throw their son or daughter outside during the winter, or give them just enough food and water to survive, even though the hot sun was clearly getting to the poor souls? Nobody. We always hated the double standard that some humans use when dealing with other animals, as opposed to dealing with the human animal.
No, to Elsie and I, EVERY LIVING SOUL WAS CREATED EQUAL.
So, we built a nice warm shelter for Miracle in our yard, and Miracle slept there EVERY night that it was cold. All Miracle had to do was jump the small fence that separated our yard from Mrs. Billingsley's yard.
In the Summer, we would provide Miracle with cold water and shade, and again, He always graciously accepted our offer and enjoyed the refuge from the dangerous heat.
And, as mentioned earlier, we had plenty of canned and dry cat food on hand to make sure that Miracle's stomach was always full, and that he never went hungry.
So, Elsie and I took a can of cat food, and gave it to our new friend, Midnight. Midnight ate as if he was in the best restaurant in town!
After finishing his meal, Midnight then came to both Elsie and I, and took turns meowing a heartfelt thank you to us both for the great meal. He waited for us to pet him, and to rub his chin for him. We quickly became attached to Midnight. We knew, at that point, that there wasn't much more that we could do for Miracle, other than continuing to feed him, give him fresh water and shelter, and it always bothered us that we couldn't do more for Him. This is probably the reason why we went the extra mile for Midnight, and did for him what we so desperately wanted to do for Miracle: Take him indoors where he would be forever safe, forever loved, and forever have a full stomach.
So, before we even got the pumpkins out of the car, from our trip to the pumpkin patch earlier that day, we invited Midnight into the house. He, like Miracle, was smart enough to recognize a good offer when it presented itself, and Midnight strolled right inside. After a little while of sniffing around, and going from room to room to see his new home, Midnight jumped onto a chair that had a blanket on it, and curled himself up into a ball. He took a deep breath as if to say: "Ahhhhhh, no more cold nights, no more bone-chilling winds...this is the life!"
Elsie and I both had tears in our eyes, seeing Midnight so happy and so comfortable. I tried to hide my tears from Elsie, but she always manages to see them, no matter how well I try to hide them! Elsie walked over to me, gave me a hug and whispered into my ear, so as not to interrupt the best catnap that Midnight had probably ever enjoyed: "Don't cry Vernon, He's ok now. He's safe now. We have a new member of the family. It's a boy!"
I couldn't help but laugh, and I shed sweet tears of happiness. As the days went by, Midnight returned our kindness a million times over (Cats and dogs always do!) offering us unconditional love that just amazed us. Who knew that so much love existed inside such a small, cute and cuddly cat! Ah, but the soul is limitless and it is from the soul, where the seeds of love are sown. Cats and dogs seem to master unconditional love, and the souls of us humans could do well to watch and learn from the souls of cats and dogs!
Elsie and I believe in Angels.....only, instead of wings, we say that God's Angels come to us on four legs!
Midnight would often have Elsie and I laughing at the many different positions he could come up with, when it came to lying next to the warm fireplace.
Little did we know, however, that the cozy fireplace would soon place our very lives in danger!
One night, Elsie and I had some friends over, for our annual Halloween storytelling night. We always had so much fun. We would bob for apples, give each other little treat bags filled with our favorite candies, and then we would gather 'round the fireplace to tell scary Halloween stories. I always loved telling the story of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Our friends always laughed at how excited i would get when describing the climactic scene where the Headless Horseman chased Sleepy Hollow schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane all through Sleepy Hollow, and how, when they came to the bridge, the Horseman threw a pumpkin at Ichabod and how after that, Ichabod was never seen again!
We all enjoyed the gathering with our friends.....we enjoyed it a little too much! We couldn't believe that it was already 12 A.M. (Midnight). Our friends hurried to their cars, holding their coats closed with one arm and reaching for the car doors with their other arms.
They all drove away, happily, yet tiredly waving. Elsie and I could barely raise our arms to wave back.....we seniors aren't used to staying up late, you know!
Elsie and I then made sure that Midnight's food and water bowls were full, and I quickly went out back to leave Miracle's nightly food and water for him as well.
Then, Elsie and I slowly walked to our bedroom, and we both fell asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows.
Then it happened!!
Midnight came running into the room at full speed, leaping onto the bed and waking us both up. Elsie said "Not now, Midnight. We're tired......we'll play in the morning".
Midnight meowed incessantly. Elsie and I both lied there, half asleep and half thinking to ourselves: "Something is wrong. Midnight never acted like this before".
Midnight wouldn't stop meowing, and walking onto our chests, as if he was trying to tell us something. So, I sat up, and Midnight, as if to lead me out of the bed, jumped on the floor and looked back at me, as if to say "Come on, I have something important to show you!" So, I got up and as I got close to Midnight he started leading the way, out to the hall and into the living room. I thought I had saw a flash of light reflecting against the walls, but I wasn't sure.
Then, Midnight and I reached the living room and Midnight stopped and looked at me, and waited for my reaction. "Oh No!" I screamed....Elsie and I had forgotten to extinguish the fireplace after the party! We were so tired, we forgot all about it! Now, the living room rug was on fire. Apparently a little piece of wood from the fireplace had trickled onto the floor, lighting the living room rug ablaze!
The look of pure fear in Midnight's eyes broke my heart on one hand, yet amazed me on the other hand: Despite the panic that Midnight felt, He didn't abandon us....he stayed with us and alerted us, thereby protecting us and frankly, saving our lives!
I yelled to Elsie: "Fire, fire,..... we need to get Midnight and get out of the house!"
I picked up Midnight, and Elsie joined us soon after, and we ran out of the house. I told Elsie to go over to Mrs. Billingsley's, next door and have her call the Fire Dept.
I gently handed Midnight to Elsie, and raced towards our backyard to get Miracle. I was worried that the fire would spread and that Miracle may get hurt....or killed! I picked up Miracle and then ran over to Mrs. Billingsley's house. She still had not answered the door. After pounding on the door for what seemed like an eternity, Mrs. Billingsley finally answered and let us in.
As Mrs. Billingsley called the Fire Department, Elsie and I gently placed Midnight and Miracle on the couch and gently stroked them, telling them that everything was going to be alright, but it didn't seem to comfort them much, especially Midnight, who still had a look of sheer panic in his normally, calm, happy, loving eyes.
Midnight and Miracle sat on the couch together and they both got along great!
After calling the Fire Department, Mrs. Billingsley made her way back into her living room and she was shocked at what she saw: Miracle was gently and lovingly licking Midnight, and Elsie, I and even Mrs. Billingsley all knew why: Miracle saw that Midnight was scared, and he was licking Midnight in order to calm him down and make him feel safe. And it worked....Midnight's panicked eyes, turned back into the happy, calm, loving eyes that we knew and loved!
For the first time that Elsie and I remember, we saw a tear roll down one of Mrs. Billingsley's cheeks. And Mrs. Billingsley said in amazement: "I cant believe this! Miracle is actually calming down Midnight...look...... Midnight isn't afraid anymore. Miracle's love actually made Midnight feel better!"
Mrs. Billingsley remarked that she never knew that cats were so loving and so smart, and both Elsie and I looked at each other, as if to say: "If you had actually bonded with cats and watched them and learned from them, and loved them, and let them love you back, you would have known how loving and smart cats are!"
But Elsie and I both held our tongues. Mrs. Billingsley had finally seen the light. That was all that was important. As we heard the fire engines arrive, Elsie and I both hoped that Mrs. Billingsley would now treat Miracle the way that he deserved to be treated: with the same love and care that He had treated Midnight with.
Ten minutes later, the fire chief came over and let us know that the fire was contained......other than the living room rug being ruined, no other damage had been done. The fire chief asked us: "Did you know that the batteries in your fire alarms needed to be replaced? You are lucky to be alive. You must have an angel watching over you tonight."
Elsie and I looked down at Midnight and Miracle and said "Actually...we have two Angels in our presence tonight".
The next day, While we were feeding Midnight his lunch, we were surprised to look out the window and see Mrs. Billingsley walking over to our front door, and we were even more surprised....shocked really, to see that Mrs. Billingsley was carrying Miracle in her arms!!!
We met Mrs. Billingsley at the door and she said "I have a Halloween gift for you! It's only two days until Halloween, ya know!"
Elsie and I didn't understand what Mrs. Billingsley was trying to tell us. After all...she didn't have any package or anything like that with her.
"A gift?" Elsie asked.
"Yes, a beautiful gift" Mrs. Billingsley replied, adding a smile.
"But, where is the gift" Elsie asked?
"You're looking at it...or should I say, you're looking at HIM!"
Elsie and I became a couple of "Old Faithfuls" again, gushing tears, as we knew that Mrs. Billingsley's gift was....well, "A Miracle."
"Your gift is your friend Miracle here" Mrs. Billingsley said.
"I saw the light last night...the light of love, when I saw Miracle take care of Midnight and calm him down with his love, during the fire. Miracle deserves all the best that life has to offer, so I'm giving him to you, if you will have him, because I know that you can take care of him the way that he deserves to be taken care of ". Mrs. Billingsley continued, "Besides, I want Miracle to be with Midnight... they are like Siamese Twins....inseparable".
After Elsie and I had managed to turn off the "waterworks" we gladly accepted Mrs. Billingsley's gift. "Yes, of course...we'll be delighted to accept Miracle into our family!" I exclaimed. Mrs. Billingsley flashed a happy smile and walked into the house and gently put Miracle on the floor. And into the room came Midnight...his lips still smacking in delight, after his tasty lunch.
When Miracle and Midnight saw each other, they both let out a happy meow and ran to each other. Elsie and I then, yet again, turned on the "waterworks".
We thanked Mrs. Billingsley for her kindness and then I went over to Elsie, gave her a hug, and whispered into her ear, being careful not to interrupt Miracle and Midnight's happy reunion: "It's ok, Elsie...don't cry. Miracle is safe now. He is forever safe indoors, where he will be loved, and always have a full stomach. It's a boy! Midnight now has a brother to share his life and his love with!"
And that my friends is our story. Miracle's story. Midnight's story. Elsie's story. My story. Our story. We are, after all, a family.
I must admit, after the fire, we thought about changing Midnight's name to "Lucky". I mean, if it wasn't for that sweet BLACK CAT, Elsie and I would have died!! So, our black cat, Midnight, did indeed bring us plenty of good luck.
And so, the superstition that tells us that black cats are bad luck, went back into the nothingness from which it came! Cats, whether black, white, or otherwise, all bring good luck, because anytime you bring a beautiful loving cat into your home and make them a member of the family, your life will be much better because of it!
Miracle proved that Cats are indeed Angels. The way that He touched Midnight, Elsie, Mrs. Billingsley and I, with his love that fateful night, was nothing short of...well, a Miracle.
And if you think about it, I mean really think about it, love itself is a Miracle. And nobody knows more about love than our precious companion animals, whom we share our lives with, our homes with, our love with, and our souls with.
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