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The Gift of Love: A Short Story
“Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought or gain, can we truly know what love means.” --Leo Buscaglia
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get—only with what you are expecting to give—which is everything.” --Katherine Hepburn
“We only get what we give.” --from the New Radicals’ song, “You Get What You Give”
It was a beautiful sunny day in Riverside. You could hear the Santa Ana winds blowing through the trees. It sounded quite similar to the sound of ocean surf. In the sky, the birds were taking advantage of this free wind. It was their chance to do some wind surfing. You never knew when the next great burst of wind was going to come your way. The trick is that you had to be patient; and that's something the birds didn’t have a problem with. Only humans did! The birds were patient little creatures. They were quite content. They didn’t have to worry about bumper to bumper traffic, or bother with high tech gadgetry like humans. Life was a grand adventure for them. But it was a different story in one of the downtown houses.
Inside a small cottage style home, an older gentleman named, Stewart Jenkins, was feeling rather sad. He missed his wife. It had been a little over a year since his wife’s death. She was tragically killed in a car crash. The person that hit her fell asleep at the wheel. The driver was rather lucky in that he walked away from the crash with only minor scratches. Stewart’s wife wasn’t so lucky. She died a few hours after being hospitalized. She was 60 years young.
Stewart stared through his living room window at the beautiful Japanese gardens that he constructed with his two hands. His wife and he would spend many hours there talking over coffee, admiring the beautiful Koi in the pond.
“Aren’t they beautiful, honey,” his wife would often say.
“Yes, they are!” he would reply.
But those beautiful events happened in the past. A couple of tear drops fell from his eyes. There wasn’t any way to bring his wife back. She was gone. Stewart understood this, but his heart longed for her. It felt like a part of him died when she left this Earth. He sometimes wondered if Mary paid him a visit. Even though it sounded completely strange, Stewart felt that his wife was still a part of his life. When he would sometimes talk about her, the lights would flicker, as if his wife wanted to engage in the conversation. That’s strange, he thought. Is that a cat crying?
In the backyard, a small white, orange, and brown tabby kitten was chasing a butterfly. The kitten was a small thing, probably about 8 weeks old. Stewart decided to check out the situation. He wasn’t an animal person, but he knew he should help the little kitten. The kitten probably belonged to some neighbor. They were probably looking for the kitten this very moment.
“Hey, kitty, where’s your family?” asked Stewart.
“Meow.” The small kitten rubbed against Stewart’s leg. She looked into his eyes and meowed again.
“We need to return you to your proper owner, Little One.” The kitten continued to rub against his leg. “I think I got something that will do the trick.”
A few minutes later, Stewart returned with a baby stroller. Stewart and his wife used it many, many moons ago when Melissa was a baby. He didn’t want to part with it, because he figured that Melissa might need it someday; however, Stewart decided to put it to good use today. As he picked up the small kitten, she began to purr. Ah, he thought, I must not get attached to this little creature. He put the small kitten in the stroller, along with a nice blanket.
Stewart and the kitten spent an hour going up and down the neighborhood trying to find the kitten’s family, but to no avail.
“I bet you are thirsty, Little One,” said Stewart.
When the two returned, Stewart got a small bowl from the cupboard and filled it with milk. The kitten drank it down in record time. She was very thirsty, he thought. The kitten appreciating the kind gesture rubbed against Stewart’s leg.
“Hey, Little One. Do you want to help me do some gardening?”
It was obvious that the kitten didn’t really help with the gardening. Stewart just wanted some company. Plus, the kitten didn’t seem to mind. She seemed to take a liking to Stewart. And it seemed that Stewart was taking a liking to this little bundle of fur.
Stewart was truly enjoying this beautiful day in the garden. The sun felt really good on his skin. He felt much lighter as if a layer of sadness had been removed. The Little One was also having a good time. She was chasing everything that moved. One minute a leaf caught her attention. The next minute she was back to chasing butterflies. She would return from time to time to show her affection to Stewart. It was very important for the kitten to show her love to this kind man. He would return the love by petting the kitten. The kitten showed thanks by her loud purring.
“Hey, Little One. I’m tired. Do you want to take a nap?”
Melissa decided to pay a visit to her father. She was concerned about her father’s sadness. She missed mom, but her father was having a difficult time coping. I can’t imagine losing the love of your life after 40 years of marriage, she thought. That would be hard for anyone to deal with. As Melissa opened the door to her father’s house, she got the surprise of her life.
There was a tiny white, orange, and brown tabby lying on her father’s lap. How is that possible, she thought? Dad doesn’t like animals.
“Now, isn’t that a Kodak moment,” said Melissa. Her father woke up.
“Oh, hi Melissa,” replied the father. “When did you get in?”
“Just now. I thought you didn’t like animals, dad!” Melissa smiled.
“I guess this old man has changed. This Little One has won my heart.” The kitten woke up and began to purr. She looked at Melissa and meowed. Melissa began to pet the small kitten. The Little One, enjoying the attention, began to purr even louder.
“What’s her name, dad?”
“I think I will call her Sunshine. She has brought sunshine into this old man’s heart. I was feeling quite sad today, but this amazing kitten seemed to take away my pain. I wonder if she is a gift from Heaven.” The small kitten meowed when Stewart said this.
“I wouldn’t doubt it. We live an infinite Universe. Anything is possible. Say, are you coming to the show tonight?”
“No, I better not. I want to take care of Sunshine. She needs me.”
“Not a problem. I understand.”
“Hey, Melissa, can you recite that new poem you wrote? I think with today’s little surprise,” said the father, pointing at the kitty. “I think it would be highly appropriate.”
“Sure dad. Here it goes:
“The majestic sunrise opens my eyes.
I can feel its radiance through my heart and soul.
Open your heart to nature’s song.
This beauty can make one whole.
Love is the key to a majestic life.
It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor.
One day you will understand its glory.
Now, is the time to appreciate your world.”
“Thank you, Melissa, for sharing that beautiful poem. I know that your mother is in here,” said her father, pointing to his heart. There were tears in Melissa’s eyes as her father said that. She kissed her father on his forehead.
“I love you, dad.” She kissed the kitty on top of her head. “I love you, too, little Sunshine.” The small kitten meowed. “I need to get ready for the show. Will you be okay?”
“Sure, I have this Earth Angel to look after me.”
A few hours later, Stewart decided that he wanted to connect with Mother Nature. There was something special about old trees. There was a certain magic and awe about them. It was beyond words. You would have to experience it for yourself to truly understand. Talking about it wasn’t enough. For Stewart, life was not meant to be spent on the sidelines. Life is about participation.
“Hey, Sunshine, do you want to go to the park and see some ducks?” Stewart asked.
“Meow,” replied Sunshine.
As the two rounded the corner, a young married couple spotted Stewart and his baby carriage. This should be interesting, thought Stewart.
“Hi, is that your grandchild,” asked the young man.
“Yes,” replied Stewart. “She’s 8 weeks old.”
“Can we have a look,” asked the young lady.
The couple peaked into the baby carriage and got the surprise of a lifetime. There wasn’t a baby in there. Instead, there was a small 8 week old kitten wrapped in a small blanket.
The look on their faces was priceless. I wish I had a camera, thought Stewart. The young couple didn’t know how to respond. They never saw anything like that in their entire life.
“Nice baby,” they both replied, puzzled.
“She likes milk,” stated Stewart. “She also likes to chase butterflies and leaves.”
“I bet she does” replied the husband, scratching his head. “I guess will catch you later.” The couple waved. Stewart waved back. He had a good laugh. I suppose it’s not every day that you get to see a cat in a baby carriage, he thought. That couple probably thinks I’m a lunatic. Oh, well. Can’t please everyone!
“Now, let’s head to the park to see those ducks, Sunshine.”
On the other side of the veil, two spiritual beings conversed.
“Thank you for sending the loving kitten to my husband.”
“You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure to send a gift of love.”