Late this fall, still struggling with the loss of my Mom at the end of September, I had been coping by throwing myself into volunteerism. I had, especially, been obsessing over my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes this year. That was a project my Mom enjoyed also, something we could do together each year. So, when the time came to take the shoeboxes to the collection center, it was very difficult for me. She had been alive when this year's boxes were begun, and it was the first of many 'last times' I would face. So, I waited until the very last day the boxes could be brought in, and planned to do it early in the day.
However, that morning I received a call from the cat caregiver at my home that one of the outdoor cats had been killed. (I had planned to leave this out of the story, but it's important, too!) Only part of the cat remained, and I had to be there, walk the property with an Animal Control officer, and take the remains to my vet to try to figure out what had happened. This emergency took several hours and most of my failing energy to accomplish.
Stunned by the morning's activities, I realized in the early afternoon that I was going to have to hurry to get the boxes to the collection point, which was an unfamiliar church across town. When I set out, it was 'early rush hour,' coming up on four o'clock. I missed the entrance to the church, on busy College Road, and had to turn around and try again. I was saying negative things under my breath at that point. Turning into the entrance of the church my car hit a speed bump and made a horrible scraping noise. I simply could not believe my bad luck.....I remember thinking, "What next, Lord?"
The next few minutes were uneventful but critical in the timing of what would happen next. I got to the church's activity building and toted my six boxes in a giant tote bag. The shoeboxes had already been registered online, so I only needed to sign in with my church's name and the number of boxes. I chatted briefly with the volunteers and then left after only a couple of minutes. More people were coming into the parking lot as I left.
On my way out of the driveway I planned ahead to avoid the speedbump by driving on the grass, in a track made by others before me. But when I got closer I saw something in the road, possibly a clump of dry leaves blowing in a breeze? NO! It was a little tabby kitten, sitting right by the speedbump. I could see his mouth opening and closing to meow. I immediately pulled over, got out of the car and reached into the back seat where I had a cat carrier and can of food. But when I looked again for the kitten he was GONE! I walked across the lawn to a nearby house, but no one was home. I didn't see signs of outdoor cats there. The nearby houses were on an access road along the divided highway, so I thought, "I will check with the next-door neighbor....there's a car in that driveway." Pulling slowly around the corner I parked next to the access road and walked up to the house. The gentleman there said he hadn't seen any kittens recently, and said, "I might take him in if he comes back." I thanked him, and went back to my car. It was meowing. All at once it began to come clear to me....I put on my grubby jacket, also luckily in the back seat, and began the cat extrication. Before opening the hood of the car I put a little of the canned food on a fast food drink lid. The kitten heard the can opening and began to meow louder. With the hood propped open, I could see the kitten clinging to the sheet metal inside the engine, but not where I could reach him. I held the little plate of food as close as I could to him, and he began to climb. He snatched a mouthful of food and slid away from me to eat it, but then climbed right back up for more. When he did, I was able to scruff him and lift him out of the engine and into the waiting carrier. Once we were in the car and ready to leave, I made sure he had the rest of the can of food, and he chomped on it as we traveled. And I said to myself, "Everything is going according to plan!"
How many details in the day conspired to have me where I could help this kitten? I had to be delayed several times, lost, late and frustrated. The needed materials of rescue were only in the backseat of my car because I had no time to clean it! I had to be going out of that driveway just after someone else drove in, unknowingly bringing the kitten in their car engine. He fell out when their car hit the bump, and unhesitatingly climbed into my car engine when I parked nearby. What if I had given up and driven out onto busy Highway 40, rather than onto the quiet access road to try to find him. His is a message of persistence and hope....the opportunities will present themselves to make a difference, and we must never, never, never give up. Later that night I told his story to the rescue group that would take him in, and we named him Sammy Speedbump, for Samaritan's Purse, the 'shoebox gift' organization, and for the bump in the road that placed him square in my path. Thank you, Sammy!