Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thanks Be to God and His Angels

Sunday evening I was driving to church. What started out as an ordinary trip turned into a miracle. Half way to church I suddenly began seeing double. I could not see the road and crashed my car. Turns out I had suffered a TIA (mini Stroke). After2 days in hospital I am home and on the mend. Thanks to everyone who said a prayer for me. God has given me another chance.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How is it that you love me Lord?

Let me try to count the ways.

For you have loved me from forever in so many mysterious ways.

The first was with the angel, unto the Virgin came.

The second was the visit, loves coming to proclaim.

The third was in the stable, where your joyful love was born.

The fourth was in Jerusalem, loves presentation made.

The fifth was in the temple, where your joyful love was found.


The sixth was in the garden, and the tears you shed for me.

The seventh when you were bound to a pillar and the stripes you bore for me.

The  eighth was with the crown of thorns, the crown you wore for me.

Ninth was on a dusty road , and the cross you bore for me.

The tenth was on a lonely hill where you bled and died for me.

Eleventh was your rising and the power of your love to show.

The twelfth was your ascension, loves hope you will come again.


Thirteenth with your holy spirit and the love of God to know.

The fourteenth, Mary’s assumption, and the power of her grace to show.

Fifteenth was Mary’s Coronation…your Queen of all hearts to know.

As I reflect on your mysterious love, may I always preserver.

When I count your joys and sorrows may I always give thanks to you.

And if sometimes my cross seems hard to bear, may I always remember you.

And as I count your mysterious ways May I always follow after you.

In all ways do you love me Lord, John 3:16 I know.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,”

That we may all have life and have it to the fullest.


Monday, October 13, 2014

A Star named Lucy

     On July 22nd, 1997 a shooting Star entered our lives. She was 76 pounds of black fur, cold nose, wet tongue and pitiful to look at. It all began as an idyllic Tuesday afternoon quest to adopt a dog from the want ad’s in our local paper. About three months after our old dog died, we had decided to look for another dog to adopt. We had always raised our former dogs, from the usual puppy age of six weeks.

All had been very special. This time however, we decided to adopt a dog that was older and just needed a good home. We decided we did not want to go through all the work that puppy training entailed. After scanning the Sunday paper, I found a listing for a dog, which seemed to be just the dog we were looking for. It was an ad for a small Yorkshire terrier and stated that the dog was housebroke, gentle and only two years old. The ad said the people were moving out of state and unable to take the dog. They had actually advertised two dogs; but the other dog was a Lab/Chessie mix and was advertised as one, which had unspecified special needs.
     After calling to inquire if I could drop by to see the Yorkshire terrier and I received a positive response, I drove over to look at what I expected to be a well cared for little lap sitter type of dog. At least that was my plan when I set out that Sunday afternoon. When I arrived I discovered that another family had arrived before me and were taking the little dog. Just as I turned to leave, the woman who owned the dogs asked me if I would be interested in the other dog. She practically begged me to take a look at the dog. The other dog of course was the big Lab/Chessie mix. This was certainly not in my plan that day…until they told me her story.

     Star was her name. They had raised her until she was a year old and then given her to their daughter and son-in-law who lived on a farm fifty miles away. The dog was now 3 years old. Unfortunately the son-in-law was an abuser of man and beast alike. Star was gentle and kind with everyone, especially the daughter and the grandbaby the woman explained. She said that a couple of months earlier, the abusive son-in-law had tried to harm the woman and her baby in a drunken rage. Star in her effort to protect, had jumped in to receive a knife wound intended for the daughter. The woman was able to escape with her baby and the dog was left to fend for itself. Eventually, the wounded animal had walked, crawled and strained to get all the way back to Kansas City and the parents home. She had been tracking her way home for several weeks the woman explained; when within blocks of the parents house the dog collapsed at a gas station on the inter state. As she described the scene and named the station location, my
heart skipped a beat. I knew the very dog she was describing.

     You see, two weeks after our beloved Cocker Maddie had died, my husband had come home from work one evening very upset. On his route home that particular day, he had passed by that same gas station and this was the very scene he had described to me. He said; he had seen a badly starved and beaten black Lab mix dog collapse. He had stopped to try to assist the dog if possible. Several other people had also stopped and were trying to divert the rush hour traffic to save the dog. The dog kept staggering in and out of traffic before she finally collapsed in front of the gasoline station. The dog was terribly frightened and would not let anyone approach her. Finally a woman had come along and said she recognized the dog as her neighbors missing dog. Impossible as it seemed, the dog had survived more than a fifty-mile trek across Missouri. The woman said she was sure it was her neighbors missing dog. Everyone decided it must have been true, as the frightened animal offered no resistance when the woman called her Star. She became docile and allowed the woman to load her in the truck.

   It was as though God had planned our adopting her all along. My husband had worried about the fate of that dog every day since it had happened. Here I was, being given the opportunity to save her once again. This time, the save would be because she was not getting well. She had heartworms and was dying. The couple was moving; they had no money to care for her and did not want to have to put her to sleep.
     I wish I could describe the look on my husbands face when I came home with this pitiful, scrawny piece of canine fur. He took one look and said;” Good Lord! She looks just like the Lab I saw at the gas station. Of course when I explained it was the very same one, he was instantly in love with what would become a 100 pound lap sitter, once we got her well again. It broke his heart that she shivered and was terrified every time he came near her. He finally discovered his wearing his baseball cap terrified her. We finally concluded that must have triggered a memory of the man who abused her. Being a farmer, the abusive man had probably worn jeans and a ball cap. Gene packed away all of his hats from then on. Slowly but surely over the next few weeks she warmed up to him.
     After several rounds of treatment for her heartworms, she regained her health. In the meantime, she quickly learned that Gene was her champion. He held her and cuddled her through all the misery she had to endure with the treatments. After a couple of weeks, Gene decided we should change her name from Star to Lucy. She wasn’t responding to her name, and he decided the man must have used it when beating her. She seemed to associate the name Star with pain. Sure enough she instantly came to accept the name Lucy and it stuck. We never mentioned her old name again. She liked it so much she decided Gene was her best friend. Now she wanted to snuggle by his chair when he came home and sleep beside him in the bed. He didn’t have the heart to make her sleep on the floor. She quickly wormed her way into every fabric of our lives.
     For the first few months, we thought they had removed her voice box, as she never made a sound. But one day, as we were walking her a child who ran out onto the path unexpectedly startled her and she let out a bark. Then she cringed as though she expected a beating. My husband and I laughed and cried and hugged her over and over. We praised her and told her it was ok. From then on, she got her doggie voice back and she could sing like and angel on cue. Within days of getting her voice, she would prove to be a hero once more.
     During the night that first November after we adopted her she woke us by barking and growling. She jumped at the window and then ran to the front door of the house and barked some more. We turned on the lights and looked around but could not discover the reason she was so upset. We were puzzled, but she finally calmed back down and we went back to sleep. The next day we discovered a burglar had broken into two houses on our block during the night. We were pretty sure Lucy had run them off from our house.
     As the years went by, Lucy became as dear to us as any dog we have ever owned. While she would never completely regain her health, she was just the perfect companion for us. She had the sweetest face, which oozed love and affection.
     In the summer of 2003, she began to have problems with kidney failure. Her kidneys had been damaged in her

earlier years of abuse and it would finally prove irreversible. But even though she was becoming more and more frail, she still managed one last heroic deed before her Star burned out. In early October of that year, she had gotten into a habit of jumping up and licking my husband’s neck. She would shiver and whine and bark. This was something she had never done before. I finally asked my husband why she was doing that and he said he had no idea. He did finally admit though, that he had a sore in his mouth and his neck hurt. He did not like her new trick at all.  I finally managed to convince him to see a dentist. The dentist recommended an immediate biopsy, which tested positive for oral cancer. The cancer required extensive surgery but thanks to Lucy, they were able to try and stop the spread of cancer. Lucy had tried to saved his life. Unfortunately Gene would live only another two years but they were full and she allowed him a time to be with us he would not have had if she had not alerted us.He lived another year and a half after Lucy died.

     At, at 1:00 PM, July 30th, 2004, Lucy’s earthly light burned out. We grieve and we miss her but we shall always think of her as “God’s little Angel Dog”, sent to be our special companion. I like to think there is a Star in the heavens above us, burning brightly tonight. A Star named Lucy.






Monday, September 29, 2014

Sadie’s Rose Petals

On a glorious morning in June of 1999, I was admiring God’s amazing handy work and daydreaming about the warm summer days ahead. The cold gray winter days had faded into spring. Spring had brought forth the colors of life and rebirth.  Roses and all the glorious summer flowers were just bursting into bloom. I was enjoying the fruits of my labors by sitting in my small patio garden and planning for the summer months ahead. Pictures of the family gatherings and outdoor summer BBQ’s were dancing in my head.

The ringing sound of my telephone would change those thoughts in an instant. Never in my wildest imaginings, could I have envisioned how very differently that summer would be. It would begin a family journey of great trials.  A journey that would be filled with fear, heartache, and tears that none of us could have foreseen on that early summer morn.

As I strolled into the kitchen to quickly catch the phone call, I had expected a cheery greeting on the other end. Immediately though, I knew by the sound of my Aunt Dories voice, something was very much amiss. Her voice was tense from struggling to control her tears. She quickly explained that her daughter (my cousin Terry) was on the way to a Trauma hospital. Her sixteen-year-old son Kelly had been in a terrible car accident. He had flat lined several times on the way to the first hospital they took him to. Their parish priest had jumped in the ambulance as it sped away. He had given Kelly the last rites. It was touch and go as to whether Kelly would survive. With a quick goodbye, we began a summer’s journey, which would take us over roads we never would have planned to travel. Roads, which would stretch our faith to the maximum and then some.

 In the days and weeks following the accident, Kelly remained in serious condition. In July they moved him to the “Children’s Hospital” in Denver, CO. Kelly was still in coma, but in Denver he was close to a larger part of our extensive family. Terry’s brothers and sisters all live there. It helped ease the burden somewhat. Terry and Dwaine (Kelly’s parents) had a large support base to help out with Kelly’s care and the hospital visits.  Terry’s sister Pam, and her family were a large part of the support team caring for Kelly. Pam’s little daughter Sadie was the littlest Prayer warrior for her cousin Kelly.  She and Kelly were very close, and even though Sadie was only six, Kelly had always been her hero.

 Through all the weeks of Kelly’s remaining in coma, Sadie made it her project to pray to her favorite saint, “St. Theresa the Little Flower.” Sadie was adamant that Saint Theresa would gain a miracle for Kelly. She knew her cousin would be well again, because she said; “St Theresa had told her so.” In return, Sadie had promised God that she too would help the missions, just like Theresa had always wanted to. We were all amused at her Mission fervor and her faithfulness to prayer.

 Sadie’s vigilance paid off. In late July, Kelly came out of coma and made remarkable progress.  We were all relieved and elated of course. As for Sadie, she took it in her usual stride. After all, St. Theresa had told her it would all be just fine.

In August, just as things were beginning to look up, another tragedy struck. My son Randy was in a car accident and also seriously injured. Again our family circle gathered in prayers and support for one another. Sadie’s “St Theresa” was our prayer companion as well. Sadie’s beloved Saint Theresa was again listening to Sadie’s childlike prayer it seemed. The last week of September it appeared as though our worlds were finally coming back to normal once again. Kelly was home and in rehab and progressing quite well. Randy was completely well and life looked wonderful again.

No one gave much thought to the minor surgery coming up for Sadie. It was just a routine Tonsillectomy so the family prayer chain just said a little prayer. We giggled at how Sadie was so brave and said St Theresa was going to make sure she could eat French Fries when she got home from the hospital. She wasn’t very happy that she would have to wait several days for the Fries, but she did like the fact she got ice cream whenever she wanted it.  The surgery was on Monday morning and she was home by that afternoon. Sadie, was just one of those children that nothing seemed to phase much. She could entertain herself for hours talking to her imaginary friends, to Saint Theresa and to Jesus.

 The following Friday began with a check-up at the doctor’s office. After that, Pam and the girls (Sadie and her sister Laney) went shopping. Pam and the girls kept finding Rose Petals on every aisle they turned into in the store. No one seemed to know where they came from. Sadie took it in stride as only a six year old can…She was sure St. Theresa had sent her Rose Petal’s for being such a good patient and dutifully not eating any French Fries when they had stopped for lunch before going back home.

 Friday night, the girls played until bedtime in their playroom. Sadie drew pictures for her Mommy and Daddy. They were the kind of children’s art, which all parents know are better than any the artist Picasso could ever create. At bedtime, Glenn and Pam listened to the girls say their nighttime prayers and everyone dutifully let Sadie say her favorite prayers to Saint Theresa and to her guardian angel. All in all, the day had been quite ordinary, except for the mysterious Rose Petals.

 At the time, I was in Marytown, IL at the retreat center. I was on a pilgrimage to offer our thanksgiving for God’s marvelous mercy and answer to our prayers that summer. From place to place in my travels I also kept finding mysterious showers of Rose Petals. On the Feast of St. Theresa, I attended a special Memorial Mass for her Feast Day. I was in awe that I was the only one allowed to take a picture of the statue. It is very old and precious, so cameras are not allowed. As I snapped the picture I found a shower of Rose Petals at my feet once again. I decided it must be a picture meant for Sadie. St. Theresa would want me to give it to her I was quite sure.

 Just as I came in the door from the airport on Sunday morning, my husband told me I needed to call my Aunt Dorie. By the way he quickly turned away with tears in his eyes, I knew something was very wrong.

With my heart in my throat, I quickly dialed the number; all the while thinking Kelly must have had another crisis. Instead, my Aunt delivered the terrible news that our little prayer warrior Sadie had died. Sadie’s scab had come off during the night and she had hemorrhaged to death. Pam found her on Saturday morning, when she went to wake her up for breakfast. Sadie was covered with blood and so was her room. It appeared she had tried to get out of bed and get to her parents in her last moments of struggling for life. But the hemorrhage was so massive; she never made it out of the room.

 Through the days that followed, we all clung to Sadie’s beloved St. Theresa to give us comfort. Losing a child is a nightmare beyond belief. Losing a child so unexpectedly has got to be even worse. For the first week Pam and Glenn were not allowed to make arrangements to bury Sadie. The police cordoned off the house as though it were a crime scene. It took and autopsy and the doctor’s surgical records to get the body released for burial. The doctor had accidentally cut the carotid artery during surgery and lasered it shut, along with the normal wound of a tonsillectomy. The doctor never mentioned the mistake that she had made during surgery. A mistake, which would take my family to our knees once more in prayer. This time the prayer was one of grief with out the hope of physical healing. They were prayers of anguish and heartbreak. We had no ability to even ask…”Why God? Why Sadie?” Although I know we all must have thought it from time to time. Sadie, ever the faithful prayer warrior would not have been pleased if we had.

 As if to punctuate Sadie’s happiness and trust in God, my Aunt found a seemingly heaven sent sign, while cleaning up the playroom before the funeral. There on the play table was Sadie’s last drawing she did of herself. She drew herself with angel wings. It was covered with those same mysterious Rose Petals and it was signed; “Sadie – I am so happy. Jesus Loves Me!”

 In the end, we have suffered and we have been blessed. We have grieved and we have mourned…but we know nonetheless, that Sadie is safe and warm. Sadie is enjoying the vision only she could see when she gave us the courage of her little prayers for our family members in need. As Pam and Glenn testified at the rosary vigil the night before the funeral…”She was ours but for a little while. God gave her to us on loan. He gave us a beautiful child to return to Him as a saint, when she was finished with her mission. The mission she accomplished much too soon for any of us. We are now the family of a Saint.”  For this we shall all continue to “Thank God.” Sadie’s mission in this life has blessed us all.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Brothers Love

War, is never easy nor without great cost for those who serve and their families. In 1967, both of my brothers were in Vietnam. Mike, the youngest of my brothers, had joined the Marines rather than waiting to be drafted. My older brother Bill re-enlisted to serve, not so much country as to watch out for our younger brother Mike.


It all began early one spring morning in 1967, when my parents received a telegram from the state department, which reported that my younger brother Michael was missing in action in Vietnam. Another telegram stating that Mike had been located, but was in critical condition followed this. Shortly thereafter, a Marine officer and a chaplain arrived on my parent’s doorstep to inform us that Mike had perished from his wounds.


For the next twenty-four hours, our world was turned upside down. The phone lines across the country began buzzing with the news and the need to make arrangements to fly home. My oldest brother Bill was in College Station, Texas attending Texas A & M University. Bill had served his time in the Marines and was in his second year working on his degree to become an Engineer. Early the following day, my parents received a call from Japan. A call which was from my brother Mike, stating that his death was a clerical error and that he was very much alive and on the mend. He would soon be returning to the war front, when his wounds healed.


It was at this point that my older brother Bill decided to put college on hold and rejoin the Marines. He asked for duty in Vietnam to be with my younger brother Mike. His hope was to convince Mike to file for a transfer under the Sullivan ruling. A ruling which, allows military family members to ask for relief from hazardous duty if more than one family member is serving in the War zone.


Bill wanted Mike in a safer place- out of harms way- while he served in Vietnam himself. Bill had always looked out for his younger siblings, and he was determined to do so again. Of course, Mike would have no part of it. He was determined to stay the course and finish his tour of duty. Even though Bill could not persuade Mike to leave Nam, Bill decided to go forward with his re-enlistment so that they could at least be close to one another and he could watch out for our younger brother Mike.


The last thing my father did on the day Bill was to leave for retraining was to make sure Bill was wearing his Sacred Heart Badge. My parents had always had a special devotion to the “Sacred Heart of Christ.” They had all of us children consecrated when we were still babies. As a family tradition, we all attended the Mass in honor of the “First Friday Devotions” that were given to Saint Margaret Mary Aloque.


Dad handed Bill his own Sacred Heart Badge just before Bill walked out the door and said: “Son, it might not stop a bullet, but it can keep you safe along the way. Just remember, it is only as good as the faith you put with it. If you wear it as a scrap of material and you don’t follow Christ, it will be no help at all. Remember what is important…”Trust Christ” and follow Him. He will get you safely home. That is all the protection you really need.”  With that last bit of spiritual advice from my father, Bill left for boot camp wearing his Banner of Christ, Dad’s “Sacred Heart Badge.”




After retraining Bill landed in Vietnam on August the 21st. Sadly, the very day that Bill arrived in Vietnam, our brother Mike was again wounded and this time his wounds were much more serious. A land mine struck his amphibious mobile unit and Mike was badly burned in the explosion. Bill managed to track Mike down in a hospital in Dong Hoa within a couple of days of his arrival.  Unfortunately, because Mike’s wounds were serious and infection was a danger, Bill was not allowed in to see Mike before the Medic’s transported Mike for treatment. All Bill could do was stand outside Mike’s room and say a quick prayer for Mike’s recovery and then report for his own duty station in Da Nang.



In order not to worry the rest of us, Bill wrote letters home telling us that he was assigned to an officer in Da Nang as a clerk. He jokingly referred to his great quest to serve as being reduced to shuffling papers. That was our Bill –always protecting others from worry or fear. His ploy worked, and we believed that he was fairly safe in Da Nang. We focused our worry and prayers on our little brother Mike and his need for healing and support during his recovery. Bill seemed to be safe and we were grateful for that. All that would soon change in an instant.


On September the 28th, the Marines again paid a visit to my parent’s home. This time there would be no follow-up phone call saying that it was a mistake. The Marines reported that on September 21st, while on patrol, Bill’s entire unit was caught in an ambush. They were trapped in a crossfire of rocket and mortar fire. Bill managed to survive long enough for another unit to find him. Bill had received the last rites and was able to make his last confession before he expired from his wounds. Bill’s Sacred Heart Badge was enclosed with the letter.


Even deep in the Jungles of Vietnam… “Christ kept His Sacred Heart Promise and came to take our Bill safely home.
 I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

John 15:12,13 " Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Post script. Many years after I wrote this story I was tracked down by 2/4 Marines who survived the attack and it's wonderful to be part of their lives




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Loathing at First Sight

September 5th would have been our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Miss my wonderful Gene especially at this time of year. This story was published in Chicken Soup "True Love" in 2009

Looking at our wedding pictures always makes me giggle. I recall the young man that my brother brought home to dinner one night well over 47 years ago. It was not what one could call love at first sight. It was more like loathing at first sight. The first time I had met him was a few weeks earlier. It all began with a phone call to my high school principles office. I was a senior in High School at the time. I worked after schools at a local restaurant, as part of our school work credit program. 
This particular day, I was not scheduled to work, but Mrs. K (the owner) had called and left a message with the office that I would have to take another waitress’s place. Mrs. K was not the nicest person in the world to work for to say the least. She never asked if I was available, she just said in her message to “be there at 4:00 PM.” Since not showing up would affect my grades for graduation, there was no way I could wiggle out of the unplanned shift.   In those days, we had no cell phones, so in an emergency you had to use a payphone, if you could find one. My mother was quite the task master herself, and I found myself caught in a bit of a pickle. My mother expected me to be home immediately after school, to start dinner for our family. I tried to call my Mom at her work place, from the school office to tell her of the change in plans but was not able to reach her. Unfortunately there was no such technology as voice mail in those days. There was no way my Mom would just let it slide if she did not know of the change in my work schedule. I could count on being grounded no matter how good the excuse was, if I did not get my message through to her. All of these circumstances set up a meeting which would change the course of my life.

I had to stop for gas to make it to work and try to call her again from the gas station. Mrs. K never allowed employees to use the phone while on duty and I knew she would not budge on her rules, even though she was the one who had created the situation. Rushing out of school, I careened out of the parking lot as fast as my old “49” Ford would travel, praying the “E” for empty meant I had enough gas fumes to make it to the filling station. For emergencies, my Dad had an account at the local Shell station, where I could sign for gas, and Ed (the owner), would bill my Dad later.

Breathing a sigh of relieve, that I had made it to the Shell station without running out of gas on the roadside, I was surprised to see a total stranger running the gas station instead of Ed. The young man was quite a flirt, and took his time putting the gas in the tank, washing the windshield, checking the oil etc. I tried my best to get the young man to just put the gas in the tank and forget the other routine services, but he just kept on trying to impress me. I tried to be polite, but flirting with a strange guy was the last thing on my mind. He was seriously threatening my job and my big date for the Sweetheart dance the following day if I got grounded. After wasting several precious minutes filling the tank and trying to gain my interest, I finally told him: “Look sir, I am in a big hurry. I have to get to work. Now please put the gas on my Dads credit line in Ed’s book.” Naturally this lead to more delays as he insisted he had no idea where such a book would be or how to do it, so I had to go inside and find it behind the counter for him. I was beginning to think he wasn’t very bright. It was a red ledger, exactly where I told him he would find it, right beside the cash register.

My next big mistake was in asking him to give me a dime for the payphone, and put that on the ledger charge too. Good grief! He then began to lecture me about taking money from a stranger and other various nonsense. By that time I was furious and stomped out hurrying to get to work, and decided to try and talk Mrs. K into letting me use the phone at work. Naturally, with all the time wasted at the filling station, I was late to work and Mrs. K refused my request to use the phone. Not only that she also said I had to stay late and do clean up duty to boot. By the time I got home at mid-night my mom was fit to be tied and as I had feared I was “GROUNDED.” At this point I felt my whole world caved in all because of a rude stranger who had ruined my life. I hoped I never would lay eyes on him again.
 As luck would have it, a few weeks later, my Mom called me at school and asked me to pick up an extra pound of hamburger as we were having a guest for dinner. Sounded normal to me, so I was totally un-prepared that evening when my brother walked in the door with his new friend named Gene that he had met at the gas station. I wanted to hide in the kitchen as I was still so angry at him, but manners precluded my doing so. My mother would not allow it.
By the time the meal was over, the young man apologized for all the trouble he had caused me and he became a regular visitor in our home. When time for the Prom came, my boyfriend and I had broken up, so Gene offered to be my date. From there a loathing at first sight became a love story which resulted in 41 very happy years of marriage and three beautiful children. Obviously, I decided he wasn’t so bad after all.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Cat with Nine Lives

Pepper’s Funeral

Several years ago I decided to make a trip to the country to visit my friend Mary. Her kids and mine were going to have a play date while Mary and I spent the day visiting and enjoying each other’s company. Soon after we arrived, Mary went to check on her cat Pepper who had gone out earlier in the day and never returned. It was not at all like her cat to wander away for a half day without food or water breaks. We decided to get in the car and drive around the country side looking for Pepper.

Up one lane and down another we drove for over an hour when suddenly we spotted Pepper lying in the road. It was obvious the cat had died from the impact of being hit by a car. Luckily the cat wasn’t obviously bloody; it had just died from the accident we surmised.  The kids were beside themselves with grief.

 As we tried to comfort them I suggested we gather up the dead cat and have a proper burial for it. It was going to be one of those teachable moments when the children would learn to grieve and yet celebrate life. In this case the life of Pepper the cat and the joy she had brought to them throughout the years.

We got the kids involved in finding a proper casket…in this case a box that Mary had on hand. We gave them crayons and markers to make the box look pretty and found some old material to line it with. Then we had them make out invitations to deliver to the neighborhood children for the funeral and luncheon we would have the next day. It kept the kids busy and made them feel a little better about Pepper’s demise.

Mary’s husband Dave went into the back yard when he got home and dug a proper hole for the funeral and burial of Pepper. The rest of us dispersed to the neighbors to tell them Pepper had died and invite them to the funeral and luncheon with their children.

The next day I and my children again made the trip to Mary’s house for Peppers funeral. Several neighbors had come and so we all solemnly processed out to the backyard with the kids acting as pall bearers. Dave gave a wonderful eulogy about the life and times of Pepper and all she had meant to them as a family. Each of the children placed a flower on the grave and then we went into the house to have a nice funeral luncheon which the children had prepared. Ok. so it was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but we all ate and acted like it was a feast in honor of Pepper the cat.

By the time we had finished our luncheon I decided it was time for me and my brood to gather up our belongings and head home again. Offering my condolences for the final time I opened the door to leave and almost tripped over a cat that came racing into the house and jumped right into Peppers bed. Miracles of miracles Pepper was not dead. But we never did find out whose cat we had buried.