A Scout is Kind

"My First and Last Pet"

The animal was a stray cat, and I named her (it was a "her", I checked) "Sakima"..."Kima" for short. She knew both of her names.

I found the name in the same way that the Order of the Arrow folks in Europe gave me that "sekkettummanque", or "blackeagle" name. Sakima means "chief".

Kima was sitting behind my mother's beauty salon. I think that she was abandoned by her mother, or that her mother was killed or injured. I waited and watched as she stood there, meouing at me as if to ask me "What are you waiting for, person??" I finally found a box, cornered her with it , and placed her and the box inside my car.

I was in college, and at home right after I finished Army training. My father was already mad at me for enlisting in the National Guard...not so much for being in the Guard, but for enlisting. He did not remember that he told me once that "the best officers have been enlisted people. They understand what it's like to be an enlisted person and they have never forgot it."

My mother was still upset with me because I failed to convince a Black girl that she should date and later marry me. It was not for trying...I have never told my mother that I was injured in my chest and stomach from two Black guys, upset because I chose the same girl that they had their eyes on...neither was dating her, just "had their eyes on her, and I ended up with her" for one day.

So, with this cat hollering for its mother in my backseat, I drove my car to my parent's home, got out, grabbed the box and jiggled it around so that the cat could not climb or jump from the box, and quietly instructed the new member of the Walton family:

"I'm already in trouble and the last thing I need is more of it. So please stop crying. I'll take good care of you...I promise...and I hope you like my room!

Here was a grown man, sitting on the bed he had used since age 15, talking as quietly as he could to a kitten who thought that her ninth life was up for sure a few moments ago.

"I'm sorry, Sakima. You need to be clean so you can stay here. My name is Mike, and your name is Sakima. Just thought of it....I'll call you "Kima" for short," I said as I was cleaning her short hair. I discovered that she was a she, that she would have a thick grey and black color to her hair, with pink nose and ears, and that something or someone bit one of her back legs. It was very tender when I cleaned it and she yepped.

I took good care of my new pet...I was careful to keep my door closed, especially during the day. At night, even though I constucted what I thought would be "impossible for a kitten to escape from", Kima would get out, somehow climb onto the bed, and sleep at the foot of my bed. She loved the warmth from my body as she slept in a tight circle beside my legs. One morning, I awoke to her laying on my pillow, next to my head. She had found her "friend" and I have found my "pet".

My mother did not like cats. She never told me why, just that she never liked them at all. So when she came into my room one afternoon to leave the linen I had washed earlier in the week, she yelled "MICHEAL!!!! GET THAT CAT OUT OF HERE!!"

I knew no amount of convincing, crying nor arguments was going to change he mind.

I tried anyway. It worked, partly.

"How long have you had that thing in here?", she asked me. "Three weeks tomorrow, "I replied, smiling proudly. She never knew.

"And how did you manage feeding that thing?", she followed. "The tuna I got out of the cabinet or at the store; water and milk and on occasion some pieces of KFC I would buy". I did not want my new pet to be burned out of just tuna.

"You have until FRIDAY to get that cat out of here, and I do mean out. I don't care what you do, that cat is NOT staying in MY house. You understand?"

I did. It meant that I had to say goodbye to my first and last pet.

Friday evening, I went to my Order of the Arrow weekend outside of Louisville. I took Sakima with me, in the same box that she was in when I found her three weeks ago. She did not understand that I had to leave her in the box, but the food I bought at a convience store helped to keep her in the box and quiet for a while.

Once at the camp, I had to say my goodbyes to her. I took her near the Camp Director's home, empty during the weekend session, placed her on the ground and talked with her for about twenty minutes. I was heartbroken. I hated my mother for hating cats. I hated the fact that I had to take my cat so far away to let her go....but I wanted her to live, and I thought that it would be much better to let her go in the true woods than in a big city.

Besides, her name is Sakima...where else would you take a kitten with a name like that?

I kissed the kitten on the top of her head, pushed her away from me, and ran back to the parking lot. I sat in the car for another thirty minutes before I got back out and headed toward Cardinal Point. I never saw the kitten again that entire weekend and when I was curious to see if she was still sitting there where I left her on Friday evening, by Sunday, she was gone.

My caring may have saved that kitten from certain death, and all she responded in turn with was pure love. Her sleeping around me was not just because I was warm and she sought out warm places...it was because she was being treated the way that people should treat each other: with respect, care, understanding.

With love.

A gentle touch to a child. A meal for someone that clearly needs one. A bit of help to someone that cannot do it by themselves. I learned what compassion really was about. From a kitten. While everyone will not have a chance to find and keep a small pet as I did, I hope you will try. I was almost cheated out of a very important life lesson: if you care for something, someone, they will care about you. It's an extension of the "golden rule": Do unto others as you wish to be treated by them.

Sakima, I hope that you are okay. At various times, I miss you. I have forgiven my mother for her misunderstanding, and I hope that you have forgiven me for letting you go right after you have gotten to know me as a protector, a parent, a groomer and a friend.

One of my Scoutmasters used to end his meetings with "Stay Dry and Warm, and may the Great Scoutmaster of All be with us until we meet again."

Stay dry and warm, little Kima. And may the Great Scoutmaster of all life be with you until we see each other again.


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