I still wasn’t dating much, although I had recently met a woman whom I found very attractive.  She was a mutual friend of some of my friends, and everyone we knew thought that we would make the perfect couple. 

Henry with the trainsetOur friends soon started trying to draw us together.  They would invite both of us to social functions and attempt to get us to talk to each other.  I, of course, vehemently resisted these matchmaking efforts.  I was still too leery of pursuing any long-term relationships since my marriage had been a disaster.

 One night, I found myself thinking about this woman.  I had resisting getting together with her for almost a year now, and I was finally seriously thinking about asking her on a date.  I somehow knew that we would get along.

 As I was sitting on the sofa watching television one evening, I couldn’t get her out of my mind.  Buddy the cat was lying on my lap, as usual, and Wild Thing, his feral friend, was hiding under her chair, as usual.

 For some reason, I looked at Buddy and asked him if he would like to meet a lovely lady acquaintance of mine.  I started telling him all about her.

 He seemed very interested, and he looked at me as if to say, “Why don’t you give it a try?  Maybe she’s even a ‘cat-person’ and I’ll like her, too?”  Even Wild Thing poked her cute little head out from under her chair, as if she were in agreement with Buddy.

 I looked at my two little feline friends and told them that I would, indeed, attempt to pursue a relationship with this lady.  I also made a mental note: You had better start getting out more.  You are spending way too much time in this basement apartment talking to your two cats!

 Well, I did go on a date with my new lady friend, and we hit it off right away.  She was divorced like me.  And, best of all, she was an ‘animal person.’  I soon learned that an automobile accident had tragically killed her dog, and her beloved cat had recently died of old age.  I was really beginning to fall for this woman.

 Before long, Rebecca and I were seeing more and more of each other.  We made a date to spend Christmas Eve together and I was determined to get her just the right gift.

After pondering it over in my mind, I decided that a new kitten would make the ideal holiday present for her since she had lost her beloved cat and missed it tremendously.

 Four days before Christmas, I set out to find the perfect kitten.  I searched throughout the entire city.  I searched high and low.

 I finally found him at a local animal shelter on Christmas Eve. He was white, tiny, and extremely cute and cuddly.  He was surrounded by his four siblings in a small cage.  The other four kittens were jumping about, meowing, and vying for anyone’s attention who might wander by.

 He was fast asleep, face down, in the litter box, oblivious to all the noise and pandemonium around him.  I had to admire a character like that.  I also had to have him.  I knew he would make the perfect Christmas present for my new love.

 Unfortunately, everyone else in that shelter that day was also looking for cute cuddly kittens to give as Christmas presents.  Before long, every kitten in the place, except for my preferred choice, was gone.

 I had to bicker with an old woman over this last kitten, and she and I were both determined to get him.  But I cranked up the old charm.  I found that I still had a little left.

 I patiently explained to this dear old woman that I desperately wanted this kitten as a Christmas present for my new lady friend.  I patiently explained how Rebecca’s two former pets had recently died.  I patiently explained how I was falling in love.

 This dear sweet old woman soon relinquished her professed rights to the little guy.  She smiled and told me that there would surely be more kittens in need of a home arriving soon, and she could wait.  I thanked her, kissed her on the cheek, and wished her a very Merry Christmas.  She wished me luck with both the new kitten and my new love.

 Several hours later, I proudly presented Rebecca with her Christmas gift.  She immediately fell in love with the little guy.  He was just so cute and cuddly.  How could she resist?

 As we sat in her apartment playing with the new kitten, I asked her what she would name him.  She looked at me very devilishly and asked what my father’s name was.  I told her that my father’s name was ‘Henry.’

 She looked at me again, smiled, purred, and said, “I like that name.  My new little kitten’s name will be Henry!”

 I couldn’t believe it.  This woman obviously knew how to get to a guy.  She had named her cat after my father!  I really liked that.  She was good - damn good.

 I fell in love with Rebecca that Christmas Eve.  We married several months later.

 And Little Henry quickly became a permanent fixture in our new home.  He was a joy to behold as he ran, played, and endeared himself to us.  He also quickly and lovingly became part of our new, expanding family.  He soon became good friends with Buddy.  Wild Thing, however, would have nothing to do with the poor little guy.

 But Henry didn’t mind.  He got plenty of love and affection from the rest of us.  And, not surprisingly, the Holiday Season soon became little Henry’s favourite time of year.

He delighted in watching us decorate the Christmas tree each year, and he sat mesmerized for hours, eagerly staring at the twinkling bright lights all around him.

I bought a toy train set one year and merrily placed it under our Christmas tree.  Little Henry stared transfixed at that train for hours as it slowly circled the room – his keen feline eyes wide open and full of wonder.  He also jumped with delight every time the little whistle on the locomotive went off.

Henry’s favourite Holiday pastime soon became helping Rebecca wrap Christmas presents.  He absolutely loved ribbons and bows – all kinds, colours, and textures.  He had to examine each and every one of them very closely as my wife meticulously wrapped our gifts.

 Often, he would crawl into an open gift box and excitedly wrap himself up in the colourful Holiday paper.  Eventually, he would jump out grinning from ear to ear, evidently very proud of his excellent accomplishment.

 Before long, he would dive into another gift box or merrily dash off down the hall with a long red ribbon trailing far behind his gorgeous long white coat.

 We often found ribbons and bows scattered throughout the house long after Christmas ended.  Henry would somehow find them stashed away in some deep dark closet and excitedly pull them out.  He never tired of playing with them.

 I sincerely believe that lovable little feline felt Christmas should last all year.

 That wonderful little white kitten I had found in that animal shelter that magical, snowy Christmas Eve truly was the perfect Christmas cat, and the perfect Christmas gift for my new love.

 Sadly, we recently lost our little Henry to kidney disease.  He bravely battled it for more than a year, but eventually, it won, as it always does.

 Yet, as sick as Henry was, his spirits still brightened just a little at the last Holiday Season we were privileged enough to spend with him.

 Little Henry’s ashes now reside in our bedroom next to his favourite easy chair.  I truly believe that poor old Buddy has felt Henry’s loss the most.  They had become the best of friends over the years in our new home.

 Everyone in our household will feel Henry’s loss for a very long time to come.  This inquisitive, lovable, white feline furball freely shared his heart and his soul with all of us.  All he asked in return was our love.

 He had also brought us all together for the Holidays – and for the rest of our lives.  None of us will ever forget his unselfish Christmas gift of love.

 We love you little Henry Guy –  and we always will.


©2003, an excerpt from Curious Creatures-Wondrous Waifs, My Life with Animals, by Ed Kostro; and available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com

Be sure to check out Ed's websites.

http://edkostro.home.comcast.net/wsb/html/view.cgi-home.html-.html

www.authorsden.com/edkostro


 

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