by Pettus Read
It was a cool fall morning when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid's and Aunt Sadie's farm. In the brightest of sunshine on orange colored fall leaves, I could see Uncle Sid sitting in the swing on their front porch. It had been several days since I had visited the couple, but like always, I knew the visit would be one that would send me away a much better person than when I had arrived.
As I parked my car beneath one of the huge maple trees near the house, I could see Uncle Sid waving me in and Aunt Sadie coming out the gingerbread trimmed screen door, wiping her hands on her apron. Breakfast-time was over and Uncle Sid was enjoying his crooked-neck pipe, while Aunt Sadie put away the dishes. It was their usual routine each morning when the weather is somewhat warm and you could almost set your watch by their regimented activities.
Of course, once I put my foot on the front porch, Aunt Sadie wanted to bring me something to drink and fresh tea cakes she had just baked and Uncle Sid was urging me to have a seat in one of the front porch rockers.
However, this day I noticed something very different I had never seen on their porch. Laying all curled up in a ball in one of the rocking chairs, was a yellow half-grown kitten. Most people assume that a front porch on a farmstead should have a cat sitting on the front stoop as a condition of normalcy for farm life. But, most people have not met my Uncle Sid.
Uncle Sid has not been one to appreciate a cat around the place. A good shepherd dog or bird dog he feels is a necessity for having the most perfect place in the country. However, all the years I have known him, a cat has not been an item you would see anywhere near Uncle Sid.
Looking over at the cat and trying my best to control my curiosity, I said to Uncle Sid, "See you have a cat these days." Of course, I expected to see a sudden realization by him of a cat sleeping in his rocking chair and the cat fur to start flying.
But, Uncle Sid just puffed on his pipe and replied, "That's Sadie's cat."
I couldn't stand it! It use to not matter if the president of these United States told him to keep a cat on the porch, Uncle Sid would have declared war and succeeded before he would have had a feline on the premises.
Seeing my confusion he went on to explain his cat ownership.
"Your Aunt Sadie's been wanting a cat and after I heard a story the other day about a preacher and a cat, I finally broke down and got her one," Uncle Sid said.
Of course, I had to hear the cat story and Uncle Sid was also dying to tell it. The time was right and you just knew the story was on its way.
He sat back in the swing and blew a puff of smoke that circled his head. The old man began with, "Now, I heard this from a preacher and it is supposed to be true, but you know how these preachers can spin a yarn at times."
With a willing audience Uncle Sid went on to say, "This preacher had a kitten that had climbed up a sapling poplar tree in his yard and was afraid to come down. The preacher tried everything, but the cat wouldn't come down."
"The tree was not strong enough for the preacher to climb, so he decided that if he tied a rope to his car and pulled it until the tree bent down, he could then reach up and get the silly cat," Uncle Sid continued.
"So, that's what he did. He wasn't having much luck so he figured if he went just a little bit further, the tree would be bent just enough for him to reach it. But, the rope was sort of rotten and it broke," Uncle Sid said.
"That tree shot straight up and that cat went clean out of sight. Of course, the preacher felt terrible. He looked everywhere for it, but couldn't find it," Uncle Sid said with somewhat of a pout on his face.
"A few days later he saw one of the good sisters from his church in the grocery store with a cart load of cat food. He knew she didn't really like cats, somewhat like me, and asked her what gave with all the cat food she had," Uncle said now having me completely listening to every word.
"She told him that the strangest thing had happened. She said her daughter had always wanted a cat and to get her to stop asking for one, she told her to go outside and pray for one. Sure enough the child did just that and as the lady stood in her kitchen watching the little girl down on her knees praying for a cat, a kitten fell right out of the sky right in front of her," Uncle Sid said now laughing somewhat.
"That lady told the preacher there was no way that cat would ever be given away and had a home with them forever," he said with a laugh. "And, you know? That story made me sort of soften up and get Sadie a cat too. You do know He works in mysterious ways."
Yes, I do Uncle Sid. He sure does.