Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Do you find cats inspiring? As I reminisce about the sage felines my husband and I have been privileged to share our home with, I realize that over the years they have taught us valuable life lessons.

Our huge, black Maine Coon, Baxter, thinks he is a dog. He plays fetch, runs eagerly to the door when the bell rings, and loves company, kids and dogs. Bold to the point of brash, Baxter finds great pleasure in the simplest things—scooting the plastic ring from the milk jug around the kitchen, galloping through the house with the drawstring from my pajamas in his mouth, and lapping up a dropped dollop of whipped cream. Baxter’s philosophy, “Be content”, comes from Philippians 4:12: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . “—something I need reminded of occasionally.

Just looking at our gorgeous Russian Blue, Daniel brought me pleasure; to pet his plush silver fur was like stroking a luxurious mink. I loved when he crawled up on my lap and purred himself to sleep while I read. Every time I had surgery he lay on the bed with me as I recuperated. And when I wrapped Christmas or birthday gifts, the crinkling paper thrilled him and he often ran down the hall in joyous abandon with the bow I had planned to use. Daniel was my devoted friend for 16 years and reminded me that, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Our gray-striped tabby, Esther definitely rated as the best Christmas gift ever, pouncing, hiding, and playing dress up for hours. Finally needing a rest, she discovered an inviting napping place all her own. We had placed our manger scene under the  Christmas tree. A light scattering of straw covering the sloped roof of the stable appealed to Esther and she climbed right up on top of it. With the light bulb underneath providing extra warmth, and the woodsy smell of the tree making her feel right at home, Esther draped her little body over the peak of the roof, rested her chin on her paws and slept. Seeing her sleeping there brought to mind the Scripture from James 4:8, “Draw close to God . . .”

When we visited the SPCA, Isabelle pranced her feathered feet and puffy tail right over and adopted us! We had no choice but to bring her home! Isabelle courageously lived each day to the fullest. As though she understood Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,” Isabelle found joy in each new day. She played intensely, loved unashamedly, and faced the unknown fearlessly. Tragically taken by feline leukemia before she turned two, Isabelle taught me to appreciate each day God gives.

Molly, a lovely tri-colored Maine Coon, thought her indoor life perfect until the day her owners moved away, deserting her to a harsh and unfamiliar outside world. Rescued by a sympathetic neighbor, she came to us infested with fleas and haunted by fear. Though she quickly recovered physically, Molly’s wounded spirit continued to bear the scars of abandonment. Like the parable Jesus told of the ten servants and the gold coins, this gentle, submissive beauty challenged me, “Be trustworthy—someone is counting on you.”

How about your precious feline? What intrinsic truth or bit of wisdom is your furry mentor trying to impart?


©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Granny's Wedding Ring--The Conclusion

Continued from "Granny's Wedding Ring"

Granny loved plants and spent many hours coaxing them to bloom. One day the minister from the Wesleyan church was out for a walk and saw Granny working in her garden. He stopped by to visit.

After exhausting the topics of weather and gardening, the pastor gradually steered the conversation around to spiritual things, asking Granny about her relationship with God and explaining God’s offer of love and forgiveness.

With that conversation, my 60-something grandmother experienced a brand new start in life. To Granny’s generous and genuine nature she added godliness. We all breathed a sigh of relief when every once in a while she slipped up and swore, letting us know she was still human, like the rest of us.

Over the next twenty years Granny subscribed to the Daily Guideposts Annual. While cleaning out her apartment after she passed away, we discovered that Granny had jotted down her thoughts and concerns for loved ones near and far in the margins of the books. Each one had become a sort of prayer diary.

As evidenced in these journals, as well as in her conversations, Granny carried a heart-felt burden for others to experience God’s saving grace. She generously shared the wonderful truths she was learning with others, especially her family members near and far. I imagine she danced with the angels the day, a decade after her death, that her son, Allen gave his heart to God.

Slipping Granny’s ring on my finger magically transports me to her bedroom and those precious hours spent sifting through her jewelry while talking over life. I only wish that I could just as easily slip on her generosity, genuineness, and godliness.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Granny’s Wedding Ring~Part 2

Continued from 'Granny's Wedding Ring"

From tidbits my mother shared, I pieced together my Granny Warnick’s history. Married at age 15, she bore four children over the next 10 years. Her husband, a college graduate with an education degree, found it impossible to make a living as a teacher. He went to work at the Harbison-Walker Refractory, known to most as just “the brick yard”. Tragically, at the age of 38, he died of silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing silica sand dust.

As a 26-year-old woman with four little children, grief and responsibility overwhelmed my grandmother. She turned to alcohol and men to escape, spending many hours in the local bars. The task of raising the younger children fell to her eldest, my mother, who eventually quit school in eighth grade in order to care for her sister and two brothers.

Despite Granny’s shortcomings, my mother never distanced herself or us from Granny. My sisters and brother and I spent many happy hours with Granny at her home or ours and sometimes even at her favorite haunt, Meloni’s Bar and Grill.

I distinctly remember going to Meloni’s with Granny on my 12th birthday for a “hot hoagie”, Meloni’s secret-recipe, signature Italian dish. It didn’t seem odd to me at all, but rather, an extra special treat. Afterward my dad picked us up and took Granny and me to our house where a surprise party awaited me.

Several years later, when I started dating, I took my boyfriend, Dick to Meloni’s to visit with Granny. Seated at the bar wearing white knee-high go-go boots, a mini-skirt, and thick, cat’s-eye glasses, she was smoking a cigarette and sipping a glass of Old German beer. Dick and I thought nothing of it. That was just who Granny was at the time. Though not perfect, she was always genuinely herself.

Granny loved plants and spent many hours coaxing them to bloom. One day the minister from the Wesleyan church was out for a walk and saw Granny working in her garden. He stopped by to visit.

To be continued . . .

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Granny’s Wedding Ring~Part 1

The slim, gold band at the very back of Granny’s jewelry chest from Okinawa caught my attention. It looked practically new lying there all bright and shiny against the velvet lining. I wondered who it belonged to.

I loved visiting with my Granny Warnick. One of our favorite things to do was to sit on her bed and go thoughtfully through her jewelry boxes and the dresser drawer where she kept her jewelry—piece by piece, tiny box by tiny box. Most of it was merely costume jewelry—things that pleased her eye or tickled her fancy. The precious time spent together sharing memories and catching up on the present, however, gave these inexpensive trinkets great value.

I didn’t remember seeing the gold ring during any of our previous forays through her jewelry. It must have been shoved to the very back of the painted Asian chest. Picking up the thin, unassuming band, I noted that there were no initials inside—only the 14K gold stamp. It looked brand new—no worn places and very few scratches. It appeared to be my size. I slipped it on my finger and asked, “Granny, is this yours?”

“Yes, it is,” she answered. “That was my wedding band. Would you like to have it?”

Giving was so typical of Granny. An original “home shopper”, she ordered many sale items from big and little catalog companies. Most of what she bought she ended up giving to one of her children, grandchildren or great grandchildren. If your alarm clock stopped working, check with Granny before purchasing one. Not sure what to give your favorite school teacher for Christmas? Go see Granny. She always had some really nice bonus gifts she had received for placing an order by a certain deadline or spending X amount of money. Everyone said Granny’s generosity would have extended to the shirt off her back—literally! If you admired something she was wearing or mentioned needing an item like it, you soon received one.

So I wasn’t surprised when she offered me the ring. Among the sea of imitations, she gave me the one thing that was truly valuable in infinitely more ways than just materially.

Looking into her paling blue eyes, I nodded. “It’s so simple. Thank you, Granny. I love it,” I murmured, reaching over and hugging her tightly.

“Good! I’m glad it fits,” Granny said, moving on to the next dainty box without further comment.

Granny rarely talked about her marriage or early years as a mother and this time was no exception.

To be continued . . .

©2011 Pamela D. Williams