Our daughter Ginny loved cats, and I have told her she must have inherited the love from her mother, because I don’t care much for cats. My sister Marilyn always seemed to have a cat when we were growing up, and because her cats aggravated my dogs, they aggravated me also. I did my best to return the favor whenever possible.
Cathy had numerous cats during her childhood, and she had lots of “cat stories” from her past. In a moment of extreme weakness I even gave Cathy a Siamese cat for her birthday in March during our courtship year. I was so in love with Cathy and wanting to please her so much, I failed to think I would be living with “Ming” the following August when we were married.
Because our other daughter Mary Kay also inherited cat love from her Mother, I was destined to always have one or more cats living around our home. Our son John inherited his disdain for cats from me, and we tried our best to agitate them with our pet dogs as often as possible. We never intended any physical harm to any of them .
At one point when Ginny was approximately eight years old we came into possession of a cat who was part Siamese and some other breed. As I recall the kitten had been abandoned, which was all our merciful girls needed to know. Ginny was first in line for a new kitten so this one became hers. The kitten had distinctive white paws and was a male so Ginny named him “Boots.” I was thankful the kitten was male, so we didn’t have to take him to the veterinarian for a spaying. Boots was seemingly more playful and friendly with me than our previous felines, so I think I kind of “liked” Boots.
Our across the street neighbors were the Clyde’s and their younger daughter Elizabeth (Bitsy) was close friends with our kids, especially Mary Kay and Ginny. Bitsy loved animals, and in fact when grown she became a veterinarian and now lives with her family and practices veterinary medicine in Mattoon, Illinois. Whenever we went on vacation we engaged Bitsy to watch over and feed our animals, which she not only loved doing for us but appreciated the extra money we paid for her kindness.
One year in March when Boots was approximately two years old we took a family vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to spend time with Cathy’s parents and family. During our ten day absence we again enlisted Bitsy to feed Boots and make certain he was safe. As I recall we didn’t have a dog at the time which was rare for us. Upon our return Bitsy sadly reported she hadn’t seen Boots for about five days, and had no clue of his whereabouts. He was pretty much a home cat and to our recollection had never been gone for such an extended period of time. That night all of us, and especially Ginny asked God to return Boots safely home.
Within the next month when there was no sign of Boots, we all gave up hope of his return. All except Ginny. She prayed multiple times during the day, at all our meal times when it was her turn to pray, and especially at night as we listened and agreed with her pleas to our heavenly Father. She never stopped praying for Boots when some of us had long since given up.
Approximately eight months later on Halloween evening our kids were preparing to go into the neighborhood for their annual “trick or treating” when there was a ring of our front door bell. It was Bitsy who was short of breath from running as she told us excitedly, “I’ve found Boots!” “Where in the world did you find him, and why didn’t you bring him home?,” we asked. “He is at Mrs. Reeves house and when I knocked on her door to trick or treat there was Boots standing beside her.”
Gladys Reeves who was the widow of Harry Bryant Reeves lived two doors down from us on the same side of the street. Mr. Reeves had been owner of the iconic B.W. Reeves Department Store in downtown El Dorado. His father had founded the famous store during the oil boom days of the 1920’s, and everyone in the surrounding area was familiar with the store. Harry had died about five years previous from heart disease, and Gladys lived alone in their beautiful two-storied home.
When Bitsy saw Boots at Mrs. Reeves feet she asked her why she had Boots. She responded, “Do you recognize this cat? He came to my door about six months ago, and I thought he was a stray cat. He had no collar and was very hungry, so I began feeding him. He was happy to stay with me.” Bitsy told her Boots was his name, and he belonged to the Moore’s. She had been feeding him while we were out of town, and one day he disappeared. Mrs. Reeves was shocked at this revelation and told Bitsy, “This cat has decided to stay with me, and he’s now an inside cat. I have had him de-clawed, neutered and named him “Harry” for my dear, departed husband. Harry never leaves my side and even sleeps in the bed with me! I just can’t give him up.”
Ginny was so excited Boots had been found and wanted him home with her, and now Mrs. Reeves is saying she can’t live without “Harry.” I immediately phoned Mrs. Reeves, and while she was recounting the story Bitsy had told us, she began crying uncontrollably at the thought of returning Boots to us. I told her we would explain this to Ginny, allow her to decide, and we would let her know.
As we sat down with Ginny to explain the dilemma of Boots she also began crying so we prayed with her as she made her decision. She went into our yard, picked some flowers and walked the short distance to Mrs. Reeves house to knock on her door. I think Mrs. Reeves was a little surprised to see Ginny with her flower gift and was almost shocked when Ginny told her, “I want you to have Boots as a gift from me.” She hugged Ginny and through tears told Ginny what a sweet girl she was for this gift while promising to take good care of Harry.
We were all very proud of Ginny’s loving generosity in giving up Boots, and I promised her I would find another cat for her very soon. Ginny’s attitude helped reinforce to us we must hold our possessions in an open hand so when our Father decides to move them to someone else, we can give freely and cheerfully. He always gives back more than we had in the beginning. (Luke 6:38). I can’t be sure, but I think we found two more cats for her to replace Boots. I am sure Harry had a much more luxurious life with Mrs. Reeves than he ever had with us.