Active Columns - Small Miracles

Small Miracles is a moving, heartwarming, and inspirational column. These remarkable coincidences often contain profound teachings and important moral lessons to uplift our perspective on everyday life.

Nothing is purer than the joy in a child's smile.

Nothing elicits that smile more than love - and sometimes, the perfect present. That is what Louisa knew as the days approached her daughter Stephanie's tenth birthday.

What she would give to make her precious daughter smile! For each day was a challenge to little Stephanie, who had been born deaf. She lived in a virtually silent world. Not an echo, not a buzz, not a sound. Louisa was trying her best to raise her daughter with love and instill a feeling of self-confidence in her. She provided Stephanie with everything she possibly could.

So of course, the child's tenth birthday should be something special. And yet the sky was not the limit, in terms of birthday gifts. In fact, the bank account was nearly empty. Louisa's marriage to Stephanie's father had gotten increasingly worse over the years and finally, in the past year, Louisa had felt that it would be best to split up. The divorce left Louisa strapped financially and anxious about expenses.

"Mommy," Stephanie signed one day, "I know what I want for my birthday." Louisa took a deep breath, worried that she would not be able to accommodate her daughter's wishes.

"Yes, honey," Louisa signed back, "what is it that you would like?"

"A white cat," Stephanie signed. A great big smile came over her face, just thinking about it. "A white female cat with long hair." Louisa gulped hard. The divorce was still something that Stephanie had not fully understood. Plus, they had recently moved, and Stephanie was adjusting to a new environment and a new set of schoolmates. Any child would have been challenged; Stephanie had almost more than she could bear. It broke Louisa's heart to watch her daughter holding up with such grace and strength.

"Mommy," Stephanie signed one day, "I know what I want for my birthday." Louisa took a deep breath, worried that she would not be able to accommodate her daughter's wishes.

And yet, a long-haired cat? Louisa had an immediate sense that such an exotic animal would be costly. Over the next few days, she struggled with the dilemma every time she looked into her daughter's eyes. Just the idea of it seemed to give Stephanie a happier countenance. Never had Louisa seen her daughter want something this badly. In the end, Louisa was so moved by her daughter's deep desire for this cat that she resolved to find one.

Her first move was to look through the newspaper classifieds. Maybe someone was selling a cat that would fit Stephanie's dream. Maybe it wouldn't be that expensive. She found four ads for cats for sale, and circled them in red ink. She called the first number.

"Hi, I'm responding to your ad in the paper," Louisa said to the stranger who answered the phone. "Yes, I am selling a cat," came the reply. "What color is it?" asked Louisa, fingers crossed. "It's a beautiful, all black, male cat."

Louisa's heart sank a little. The exact opposite of what Stephanie had asked for! "Oh -- I'm sorry," she said. "I was looking for a white cat - female -- thank you," she said and hung up. There were still more numbers to call. Louisa tried the next number. "Hi, I'm calling about the ad in the newspaper about a cat for sale?"

"Yes," came the reply, "I'm selling a beautiful short-haired white male cat." Once again, Louisa's heart sank as she thought about her daughter's bright eyes, her animated signing, her reluctance to hear of anything but a pure white, long-haired, female cat. "No, I'm sorry, that's not what I was looking for," replied Louisa.

Louisa continued to make phone calls for the rest of the afternoon. She found people selling orange tabbies and gray Siamese, but no long-haired fitting her daughter's specific description. Frustrated in her efforts, Louisa decided to ask her daughter if she might want a different type of cat, or even another birthday present altogether. But as she approached Stephanie's room, she caught a glimpse of the child signing in prayer.

"Please," she saw Stephanie pray, "please help my Mommy find me a white female long-haired cat. It's all that I want. Please. I know you have lots of those kind of cats. Please give my Mommy one." Louisa couldn't move. She just stood in the doorway, watching her child, tears welling up in her eyes. Then, slowly, she turned around, went back to her own room, and said her own prayer.

The next day Louisa was on the hunt again. She called yet another number listed in an ad from a different county newspaper. But all she got was the answering machine, so she left her number and waited to hear back. That night she got a call. "Hello," said a woman on the other end of the line. "I'm returning your call about the ad I had placed in the newspaper."

"Yes," Louisa said, "would you please describe the cat to me?"

"Sure," said the woman. "The cat is pure white, long-haired and female."

Louisa jumped out of her seat. "I'll take it!" she screamed.

"Great," came the response, "that will be five hundred dollars."

"What!" shouted Louisa, "five hundred dollars?"

Trying to contain her disappointment, Louisa tried to explain the situation to the woman. "You see," she began, "my little girl is turning ten, and this is all that she wants. I can't afford much. I was hoping that maybe, somehow I would be able to give this to her. But five hundred dollars is too much. It's an amount I can't afford to spend."

Nevertheless, the woman could not be dissuaded from her price. Louisa thanked the woman anyhow for calling her back, and they both hung up.

Louisa felt more hopeless than ever. Again the phone rang. The woman with the white cat had been moved by Stephanie's story, she said, and she felt a change of heart. She was willing to reduce the price to three hundred dollars.

"Thank you so much," said Louisa sadly, "but even three hundred dollars is still way above and beyond what I can afford."

The woman must have sensed the sadness and despondency in Louisa's voice. "You know -- I do have another cat, a long-haired, perfectly white female cat that I can't seem to give away," she began.

"Oh? What do you mean? Why is that?" asked Louisa, perking up. "Well, you see," said the woman, "this particular cat is deaf." Louisa was speechless. After a moment of silence, she released a grateful sigh, and then came her exhilarated reply. "I'll take it," she said. "I will gladly take that cat." A perfect answer to her prayers.

Happy Times - Copyright © 2002