RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
Kindness: A True Story
The first thing I can remember is feeling warm on the back of a sofa next to a window. Looking for birds. I was happy. The lady who picked me up and ran the food machine was around a lot, and she liked me to sit with her by the hot place.
I had a man, too. He called her “Peg” in a big round voice. They both called me “Kris” and liked me to sleep on their bed.
Sometimes Peg put me in a box-thing and carried me out to the very small house that moved. We went to a big smelly house with other creatures where I got poked and stung. I was a “good boy.”
Peg and my man had creatures too, and that made life smell interesting. Cats like me and not-cats they called “good dogs.” These all came and went. Then more came. Peg loved us all, but me the most.
One time we all went to a new house with a new window, but the same sofa, and we stayed. I forgot about the other house and got used to the new smells.
I liked the farm house the best – I got to go out the door whenever I wanted and I got to chase things. Sometimes I caught them, but I wasn’t hungry, because Peg fed me chicken. So, I gave her the little dead things as a present. She seemed to like that.
One time I got “lost.” I knew I was in the dryer, but no one else did. I could hear Peg calling, but she couldn’t hear me. It seemed like a long time before she opened the door. She said my name the loudest I ever heard! KRIS! KRIS! Then she went to the phone thing and talked and laughed, her eyes were so big. I just rubbed on her legs.
I have heard about nine lives, so maybe I had them. I had more than one house for sure, if that’s what those nine lives are about. Anyway, before my very last house, Peg and my man and the last Good Dog took me to a smaller house. Another lady and man came to visit. Lots of times. This lady sounded a lot like Peg, and even smelled the same. The Peg-like lady and her man would sit and laugh and sometimes find the phone thing or make the TV come on. Peg and my man were always happy to see them, even if they came every day.
Came a night we were all on the sofa. Peg, my man, Good Dog, and me, like most nights. Peg went off the sofa in a quick way. My man shouted and was not happy. Then a terrible noise happened outside, like tigers screaming, and the house was filled with new people, all strange. They took Peg off the floor and put her on a very small bed. They carried her out the door. My man made terrible sounds.
I waited for Peg to come back.
My man was quiet. Peg-like-lady came and went. I waited.
Then one day Peg-like-lady came and took my man out the door.
It was just me and Good Dog. We waited for our man to come back.
The noisy-machine lady came and made the house smell different. When she left, Good Dog went out the door with her. I waited for him to come back.
Peg-like-lady and her man came to feed and love me, but then they left.
I wanted to get back in the dryer.
One day Peg-like-lady put me in a box and took me to her house. It smelled wild, with another cat who hated me and a good dog who didn’t like me either. I had to stay in a room by myself so that cat wouldn’t scratch me. This was not good.
Then! A new lady with big eyes and a smile came. She took me and the box to a new house. My last house. There was a sofa and a window and another cat, who hardly looked my way. No good dog.
I began a new life. Maybe it was number nine, I don’t know how to count. But here was the big surprise: I wasn’t old, after all! My new lady loved me and fed me chicken nuggets, and liked me to sleep on her bed. I played with strings and chased around and she sometimes put silly hats on me. I could have scratched her, but I never did. She was my new lady.
And she gave me a new name. Now I was “Theo.” And that was just fine.
My new lady had a name, too. I called her Kindness.
And lived with her forever.
A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.