by DONNA COFFMAN
Several years ago, my daughter’s family adopted a tiny kitten who apparently had been abandoned and thrown out of a car along the roadside. My grandchildren, ages 2 and 4, named the little fella Todd.
Todd’s tail seemed to be broken so the kids and my daughter took Todd to their vet. The vet said, “Let’s give his tail a chance to heal on its own. Bring him back in a couple of weeks and we’ll check him out again.”
About a week later, my sweet son-in-law told my daughter to snuggle down and get a few extra winks. After all, it was Mother’s Day! “I’ll shower the kids and get them dressed for church this morning!” He went into the bathroom with the kids. Of course, Todd the cat had to be in there with them. Daddy took out his contacts and popped into the shower. The next thing he heard was, “Daddy, Todd is playing with his tail!”
“Well, kids, that what cats do,” Dad hollered back.
“No, Daddy! He’s really playing with his tail!” Daddy peeked out of the shower to find Todd truly was playing with his tail! It had fallen off!
The next second, Mom heard a blood curdling yell from the bathroom. (Note: blood is the operative word here!) She leapt from her bed in a single bound and threw open the bathroom door to find blood all over the tile and walls. Daddy was on his hands and knees looking for his contact lenses that were knocked off the vanity in the excitement. Since he gets a wee bit queasy at the sight of blood, he really may have been on the floor trying not to pass out! The kids began screaming when Daddy yelled.
So Mommy found a dizzy Daddy on the floor, two freaked out kids clasping each other while standing on the toilet lid, and a frightened, bleeding, tailless kitty bouncing off the walls! Thus began Mother’s Day.
My daughter captured the cat, comforted the children and her husband, cleaned up the mess, dressed the children, sent them to Sunday School with their badly shaken father, and took Todd to the emergency vet. Poor little guy had to have the rest of his tail amputated to minimize infection. He came home the next day with a tiny stump of a tail and a bandage. The children proudly explained the cat’s “AMPOOHTAYSHUN” to anyone who would listen. Todd healed nicely and became the love of the family!
About a month later, I had an above-the-knee amputation of my left leg to try to stop my relentless cancer, a rare form of sarcoma. After a week in the hospital and a week in rehab, I went to my daughter’s home to recuperate. The children had no qualms what so ever about my “AMPOOHTAYSHUN.” So what? Todd the cat had an “AMPOOHTAYSHUN” too. I had a bandage on my residual limb. Big deal! Todd had had a bandage on his tail. Todd got well. Therefore, I would get well!
A few days later, my daughter said it was time for me to get out of the house for a change of scenery. Little did I know that she was taking the recycling to the dump! When we arrived there, the children were quick to tell me they were not allowed to get out of the car at the dump. Apparently, neither could Granu because “you have a boo-boo and just one shoe!” Laughter is healing and so is a change of scenery even if it is just the dump!
Later that week, I was using a walker to go to the kitchen. My little granddaughter came running up to me, gently patted the bandage on my leg and exclaimed, “Ooo, Granu! I just love your boo-boo!” Healing is love and acceptance.
The cancer continues to challenge me every day; but, my true healing began that week! From a kitten’s misfortune, I believe God used a “teachable moment” to prepare my family for the changes that were to come for us. God is just full of surprises. Once again my family received a timely reminder that God can take something broken and turn it into a gift!
Pain and loss turned into “gift.” I’m reminded of the Bible verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “… give thanks in all circumstances …”
DONNA COFFMAN is an ordained Presbyterian Church USA minister, formerly of Winchester and Shenandoah Presbytery, who now lives with her husband Terry in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, near her daughter’s and son’s families.