Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tim, A Christmas Hero


In November, 2010, my buddy Kenny posted a picture of a kitten on his Facebook page explaining how his daughter Samantha saved a kitten from some kid threatening to hurt it; Kenny’s cat didn’t take to the kitten being in her domain and she had to be kept at his sister-in-law’s home.  I wrote to Kenny, telling him that I would take the kitten in, provided that no one else had already.  Later that evening I, along with Gi, drove to pick up the little purring ball of fur.  When we brought her in Alaina named her Baby Silla – all three of the kids took an instant love to her.  Silla took a special liking to Timmy; she followed him everywhere.

Thanksgiving came and went; Christmas Day soon fell on us, this year a Saturday.  For over a week there was talk of a blizzard on the news and The Weather Channel.  The temperature dipped into the low-30s and a disturbance began to brew in as we could look for a nor’easter. 

That afternoon, Christmas Day, Gi took the kids to her parents’ home in the Poconos after we opened our presents.  I went to work…civil servants sometimes have to work on most of the holidays.  I came home later that night and waited for my family to return.  I was concerned about the snow growing from flurries to a blizzard.   It had started to snow earlier in the day, as a nor’easter was blowing in with an expected snowfall of twelve to thirty inches, and it had already piled up about six inches outside by 11 PM.
When the kids and their mother arrived home safely, all worries were put aside and forgotten only to have a new one pop up out of nowhere.  As the kids came into the house, the front door was left open as packages were brought in from her aunt’s car.  Timmy looked around the house and asked where Silla was.   The worst thought was the kitten had snuck out of the house; that soon transformed from ideation to fact.  I put on my boots and coat and trudged up and down the street, calling the cat by name and “psst-psst-psst” as checked for little kitten paw prints in the snow.  About an hour later I went back in the house.

“Did you find Silla?”  Timmy asked.

“No,” I said as I took off the boots and coat.  “We’ll make up a few posters and go looking again in the morning.”

“But Daddy, it’s freezing outside and the snow is getting worse.”

“Monk, I know…but she has a nice thick furry coat and a lot of kitten fat.  Cats also have great survival instinct; hopefully she’s curled up someplace out of the wind and keeping warm.”

“But…”

“We’ll go out in the morning.  Help me pick out a picture of Silla.  Okay?”

Timmy groaned under his breath.  “Fine,” he said.  I know he wanted the cat back in the house.  I know he had his fears of the kitten freezing to death.  I know he loved the cat.

We picked out pictures of Silla and made up a poster on the computer; we printed out about twenty posters complete with our home number, name of the kitten, and of course a monetary reward.  Tim grabbed the stapler and said something about hoping God and Saint Francis helped the cat and it would be a Christmas miracle if we find Silla safe and sound. 

My neighbor Larry was out shoveling snow in front of his home.  As Timmy and I walked up to the first telephone pole and began to staple up a poster, Larry looked over the top of his car.

“Hey Marty, Merry Christmas,” Larry said.  He stopped shoveling as he watched Timmy hold the poster up and fasten it to the pole.  “Did you lose something?”

“Yeah,” I said.  “Alaina’s kitten got out last night.”

“Oh?”  Larry looked at the poster trying to make out the information.  “What’s the kitten’s name?”

“Baby Silla,” Timmy said to Larry.  “I just call her Silla but my sister named her ‘Baby Silla’.”

As Timmy was telling Larry the name of the cat, Larry held up his hand.  “Shush,” he said gently.  “I just heard something.”

There it was, a tiny little meow coming from somewhere near Larry or his car.

“Tim, say her name again.”  Larry said as he looked under his car.

“Silla,” Tim said as he crossed the street.  Again a tiny meow was heard.  “Silla, is that you?!”

Larry bent over near the wheel well of his mini-van – a small green boxy mini-van, not the sleek soccer-mom style.  A moment later he stood up holding a gray and white patch-worked ball of fur that was our kitten.  “I guess she slept there overnight right there on top of the tire.  Must have made a nice little shelter out of the snow and wind, don’t you think?”

Tim unzipped the top of his coat and put the cat inside the liner.  “Thank you!”

“Hey, she didn’t meow until you said her name.”  Larry smiled giving the credit to Timmy.  “I’m just glad she was found.”

“Thanks Larry.”  I said shaking his hand.  “I guess the kids got a little Christmas Miracle.”

“That is what Christmas is all about.”  For some reason I was half expecting Larry to touch his finger to his nose and blow away, changing to snow and wind, like the hobo in The Polar Express.

I followed Timmy as he ran into the house to announce Silla was found.  I regaled to Timmy’s sisters how he was the hero of the day, since it was his voice Silla responded.  The girls followed Timmy into the kitchen where he took the cat to feed her.  God only knows the adventures this little cat had overnight – I know how much heart-ache was averted because Silla made Timmy her person.