(the following was written by Tom for his wife Denise, as she lay ill in the hospice. He has again agreed to share this wonderful story.)
MacGuyver loves you: by Tom Leigh, St. Paul, MN 4/2005 The Christmas Kitty
MacGuyver lived under the dumpster. It was close to Christmas time and cold. He hadn’t always lived under a dumpster. Before that he lived with his momma and all his brothers and sisters. His whole family lived in an old wood box in the woods behind an apartment building in Minnesota.
Oh, did they have fun! MacGuyver loved to roll and wrestle with his brothers and sneak up and pounce on his sisters. He was the last and smallest of momma’s family and always tried ever so hard to win. He was a real rascal and always full of mischief.
When they were all good and tired they snuggled up to momma and had milk while they listened to her wonderful stories. Momma had been an indoor cat once and would tell them the most amazing things. Momma would tell about being warm all the time. She would tell about playing with string and toys and paper balls. Momma said there was always food, and even special sand for the bathroom.
MacGuyver didn’t understand much of what his Momma said. He was only a few weeks old and had never even been out of their family box. He liked the stories though because Momma sounded so happy. She would stretch and purr and lick them all. Sometimes she would promise that if they were good they would all live together in a house someday.
One day MacGuyver made an awful mistake. He sneaked outside and no one even noticed. There was snow on the ground but it was still bright and sunny. There were trees and squirrels and birds and he felt like he could see for miles. Everything was so exciting and new that he walked and walked. The sun felt warm on his orange fur and the snow felt so funny under his feet. MacGuyver came to the edge of the little woods right at a busy street with cars that were loud and smelly. It was starting to get dark too.
“I should go home” he thought.
Where was home though? That was MacGuyver’s big question. He had walked a long way and nothing looked familiar at all. He was only a puff of hair you could hold in one hand. He was small in the big world and getting scared.
MacGuyver sat and shivered as the night got dark and the cold came back. He walked a little way into the woods and feeling tired, cold, and very alone; he made a sad little bed under a thick bush. Wind made the trees creak and groan, and his imagination … you can guess! MacGuyver wrapped his tail over his paws and sat through the night with his wide green eyes staring out at the strange frightening world.
Finally the new day came with a hope filled sunrise. MacGuyver stretched and licked himself clean. He started his search for home. MacGuyver walked and walked all through the little woods for half the day. Suddenly he saw something familiar! It was the tree by the box where momma lived! MacGuyver ran so fast you could hardly see his little legs. He ran to the hole in the box and squeezed himself in. He was squeaking with joy.
It was empty! Momma and all his brothers and sisters were gone.
MacGuyver never learned what happened to his family. Maybe momma had found a better place and moved the family. Maybe people came to make them indoor cats. MacGuyver hoped for that.
MacGuyver was still alone and cold and hungry. He sat in the box for two whole days feeling worse and worse. If he tried to go outside there were dogs or owls and awful things he only imagined. When MacGuyver had almost given up hope he smelled something wonderful. People had thrown away the garbage from their Christmas dinner. The dumpster at the apartment building had been too full and a bag of turkey bones and dressing and other Christmas treats was just lying on the ground. The January sun was warming the pile and sending out the good smell.
MacGuyver had a feast. He walked through the woods and found a new home. Living under a dumpster was a hard life though, with mean dogs and scary people. He was so small though that no one could bother him if he stayed underneath. Sometimes there was no food but most days something would get spilled that he could eat. MacGuyver was always cold and missed his momma very much.
When MacGuyver looked out at night he could see the cold and the stars. He could also see one apartment with a ground level window that always had a light on. The window was only a short run from his home. Sometimes when the curtain was open he could see a lady walking around inside.
One night MacGuyver dared to cross the snow and look in the window. He was amazed. The place with the lady looked just like the stories momma used to tell about. He could tell it was warm inside when his nose touched the glass and could see green plants and ever so many things he didn’t recognize. MacGuyver thought to himself, “I wonder if that is string, or maybe paper balls?”
MacGuyver made many visits to the window after that. He was always shy because he had learned that people were mean. His only true safety was under the dumpster. The lady didn’t seem mean though. She sometimes looked at him but that was all.
One day a funny thing happened. The lady walked right up to the window and tapped on it with her finger. She tapped it right in MacGuyver’s nose! MacGuyver jumped twice his own height in surprise and raced away. Later, as he curled his tail around his paws and tried to sleep, he thought that it really wasn’t scary at all. MacGuyver thought it was a lot like playing games with his brothers and sisters.
MacGuyver visited the window as often as he could. Sometimes the lady was home and sometimes not. If she was there he would play the finger poking game with her. If she was not home he would stare at all the wonderful things inside. MacGuyver was still just a kitten. He missed his momma and it was always cold.
One morning the most remarkable thing happened! MacGuyver saw the lady bringing her own garbage bag to the dumpster. He was so curious that he didn’t run and hide. He just sat there while the lady kneeled down and poked her finger at him. MacGuyver thought “this is just like the poking game without the window.” He stretched out his tongue to taste and to MacGuyver’s surprise the lady picked him up!
Before MacGuyver knew what was happening the lady was rubbing his ears and scratching his tummy. He had not had a friendly touch since his family vanished. MacGuyver closed his eyes and purred. When he opened them again he was in her house. The lady had brought him into her home!
What adventure! MacGuyver raced and ran and jumped and explored. The lady even made string and paper balls. It wasn’t until he got sleepy and laid down that he realized that he was completely warm for the first time in his life. The lady put out a dish of food which was far nicer than anything he ever found under the dumpster. Later she went to bed and MacGuyver crawled up next to her. It was just like being back with momma. It was warm and he was full and he was an indoor cat. The best thing a cat can be.
MacGuyver loves Denise