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March 12, 2004 - "A Furry Friend For All Seasons" by Mary-Ellen Grisham
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Mary-Ellen is one of our Angels2TheHeart and has won our "Heavenly Angel" of month award. I have been delighted with the way she continually goes the extra mile and when I received this story about her friendship with one of our recipients, I couldn't wait to share it! My heart went out to Ralph and I am so grateful to organizations like the Humane Society, and wonderful people like Betty, who give animals a loving home. I'll be sure to send Ralph a present next week!

"A Furry Friend For All Seasons"
By Mary-Ellen Grisham, with Betty Jane Johnson  - Friends from Angels2theHeart

I had to laugh when I opened the last Christmas card in that day's mail. The front of the card showed a beautiful golden amber Tabby stretched out on satin sheets sound asleep. The sleeping critter was the very picture of repose with front paws comfortably crossed and eyes tight shut, pink nose and mouth very still. A red and white Santa cap was perched on the cat's head with one ear poking out on the alert for trouble. Someone had printed "Ralph" below the snoozing feline.
When I saw the card was from Betty Jane, one of my angelees who lives in Houston, Texas, I knew I just had to have the scoop. Who was Ralph? What was his story? Turning the card over, I saw that it was a card produced by the American Humane Society. When I wrote Betty Jane and told her I really liked the picture of "Ralph," she soon replied with his story.

While Betty Jane has had some sort of cat for 40 years, none has ever been like her "red tabby" Ralph. He was an abused cat with special needs that she found on the web site for Citizens Against Cruelty to Animals. The ad said that he needed an owner with no other animals and the ability to give lots of love. He had been abused for two years with his first owner and finally nearly killed by being thrown from the window of a car, just barely slowing to toss him out.

Betty was prepared to give him lots of love, but at first, Ralph was worried about receiving it. He was distrustful, and while yearning for love, he kept expecting to be hit or hurt. Even so, he was the first cat she ever cared for who asked to be picked up and petted and did so from the very beginning when she brought him home. When Ralph wanted to sleep, he would disappear and hide to protect himself against abuse while he was defenseless. If Betty Jane happened to find him, he would move until he finally learned that she would not hurt him. Even now, three and a half years later, he disappears when the car motor is running. He is still afraid and will only tolerate a car that is quiet and sitting still.

These days, though, Ralph jumps up in Betty's lap frequently and considers himself an old friend, and he doesn't even wake if she finds him sleeping. Most recently, he has begun to curl up on the bed at night and just loves the flannel sheets she bought to pamper him.

Ralph is now also paying back all the attention and care he's had from Betty Jane. He gives his love when Betty needs attention. During the last year she has undergone hip replacement surgery, has had great trouble getting around, and recently suffered a fall during the Christmas season which left her sore muscles and tendons in the right rib area. He commiserates in his own way through colds, allergies, and cheerless weather.

Yes, Ralph, has become a comfortable presence in Betty Jane's home. He has settled in to be a friend for all seasons,...but he's never once indicated a preference for satin sheets.

(c)2004 Mary-Ellen Grisham

Mary-Ellen is a Christian writer living in Godfrey, Illinois, with her husband and son. She enjoys participating in Angels2the Heart and 2theHeart and has recently been published in the People Who Make a Difference collection with her story "Brown-Eyed Boy." Her most recent inspirational story in 2the Heart was "Love to Last a Lifetime."


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