Story Submitted by Vicki Bills

The saying tells us to count our blessings. It’s 2020, the year of COVID, thousands dying alone, to mask or not to mask, parents homeschooling, unemployment, sports played in a bubble, colleges e-learning, meetings on Zoom. Blessings?

I guess some blessings would include having time to organize, read, binge watch tv, chat on Facebook, learn a new hobby, etc. My adult son lives with me, and we thought it was great to have someone else to have with us to ride out the pandemic. Gratitude for a companion wore thin at times. You’re going to wear that shirt in public? What are we having for dinner? When am I doing laundry next? Do we have to watch that show again? It became almost a curse.

But then a true blessing appeared. (A true blessing is a good fortune that seems to involve–however small–divine intervention.) In early April during the rainy season, a mama cat chose to deliver her litter of kittens outside our screened porch in the plants. To be hospitable, we opened the door, provided water and food, and made a comfy box for her and her kittens to shelter.

On the third day, Mama cat moved all of the kittens but one. The Humane Society gave us advice and supplies because we had to bottle feed this little furball with closed eyes every few hours, even during the night.

Little by little, she grew, opened her eyes, answered to her name Penny, wobbled on tiny legs, “meeped” at us, and snuggled on our laps. She made us laugh as she tripped over her own feet or fell into her water dish. It felt like we were seeing some ordinary event that seemed extraordinary to us. She apparently thought I was her mother and still follows me everywhere.

But the story only gets better when, two weeks later, a half-sister from an earlier liter cried outside during a storm. We were on our way to give her to the shelter when my son named her Socks. You can’t give away a pet after you name her, so we adopted her too.

They keep us laughing all the time chasing each other, running over and under the furniture, learning new tricks, and demanding ice cubes when we open the freezer. Then they chase the ice cubes around looking like the Bolts on ice. If they are tussling with each other and one meows in pain, we call their names and ask what they are doing. They just look at us with their paws around each other’s necks like they are being innocent.

They have changed the way the isolation has been for us. They peek out at us from a hidden space between books. They try to hide everywhere, like the dryer or dishwasher. They watch tv and put their paws on the screen to follow the action, especially when the Bolts played. Although we rescued them from their situations, they rescued us from feeling isolated and missing socialization. We definitely have made two friends for life. We’ve ordered toys and treats to amuse them even if they love to play in a plain bag or toss our socks in the air. The love they give us and elicit from us is a wonderful, unexpected experience. Yeah, I’d say they are a blessing.

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