Susan W. Hudson

Once upon a time, in a bustling southern town, there lived a little old lady. She lived with her two girl cats and her beloved girl dog in a small, quaint house. One day, the little old lady noticed some activity in and around the empty house next to hers. “Oh my, I’m getting new neighbors!” The little old lady was thrilled. “I hope they are nice,” she thought.

The little old lady watched as the new neighbors moved their belongings into the house. Several days passed before she got a chance to meet them. She was outside working in her small garden when they walked over and introduced themselves. They were young with three young children: Harry, Mia, and baby Will. And, the little old lady was happy to learn that they were pet lovers also with one dog and three cats rounding out their family.

The little old lady and the precocious little girl developed a mutual admiration relationship. They had conversations that suited a little old lady and an adult in a little girl’s body. The little old lady gave the little girl flowers from her garden and the little girl made little-girl crafts for her friend. They made bird feeders out of bathroom tissue paper rolls, peanut butter, and birdseed. The daddy hung them on the high branches of their trees.

One Saturday morning, the daddy knocked on the little old lady’s front door. She could only see him, but when she opened the door there was the little girl all dressed up in her ballet outfit. She had just come home from her recital, and she was glowing. The little old lady was so delighted that she had wanted to share this big adventure with her. 

The little old lady and the little girl graduated to calling each other Miss Sara and Miss Mia. Love works in delirious ways.

One day, Miss Sara noticed that her adorable little dog, the light of her life, had developed a lump on one side of her neck and her bark sounded a little different. After many doctor visits and much contemplation, Miss Sara realized that she had to let her precious child go. She had raised her two sons well. Although one was too far away, her older son came to be by her side as the veterinarian put her baby to sleep. She grieved profoundly and Miss Mia, though too young to completely understand, grieved also. She was an empathetic child.

Miss Sara finally bounced back. She had always been a language lover, but, along with that, she encouraged Mia in her curiosity for science and math. They read together and finished puzzles together. One day, Miss Sara decided to write a letter to Miss Mia. She knew letter writing had given way to computer technology, but she did it anyway. She wrote (printed) a letter to Mia, in purple pencil. She put it in an envelope addressed to Mia, put a stamp on it, and sent it through the mail. Mia loved it; it was her first piece of real mail. 

Miss Sara watched Miss Mia grow up. She went through much of the teen-aged girl angst, yet she stayed grounded in her studies and her ambitions. Miss Sara listened to her and counseled her as best she could. They planted seeds, vegetables, and flowers, and they watched them grow. 

Miss Mia applied to, was admitted to, and attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She entered her junior year which was the year Miss Sara’s son was retiring from his teaching career there. She loved it. She had opportunities of a lifetime, and she took full advantage of them. Miss Sara proudly attended her graduation ceremony. 

Miss Mia had gotten into her college of choice. She had long dreamed of going to North Carolina State University Veterinary School. But first, she wanted to spread her wings. She applied to and was accepted into the undergraduate program at Wellesley. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of so many women she had read about and admired. She was intrigued by the idea of the Seven Sisters schools. She had received glowing recommendations from Miss Sara’s son and her other professors. Before she went away to college, Miss Sara gave her a gift. “I don’t have much left. I hope this will help you. Save it if you can. Use it wisely. I know you will.” Mia found a fresh, new $100.00 bill in the envelope.

Mia was scheduled to take her B.A. a year early when she received a grim phone call from the daddy. On Christmas Eve, Miss Sara passed away peacefully in her sleep. Mia cried. She jumped on the first flight out of Boston and arrived just in time to help plan Miss Sara’s Cremation Celebration. 

Miss Sara had been adamant years ago: “I do not want a funeral. I do not want to be put in the ground. I want any part of my body that is viable at my death to go to the transplant program. After that, anything else can go to science. After that, I want a celebration of my life and loves. Then, don’t put me my ashes in a redwood box, as I did with my canine and feline babies. Please, scatter them where that can drift away and be free.” Her sons complied. Mia took part.

Miss Sara went out for her heavenly daily walk. Something was telling her she should go back to that quaint house where she had lived happily and suffered a great loss. She had a hard time finding it because the area had changed so much over these many years. When she arrived at her destination, she found that her house and the house next door where her dear Miss Mia grew up were gone. 

There she saw a group of people in front of a shiny new building, cutting a huge purple ribbon using blunt-nosed, children’s scissors. She gasped. There was Mia. No, that couldn’t be Mia. She would be a grown woman now with children of her own. Was that her? The beautiful young woman with sandy brown, wind-blown hair and brown eyes with flecks of green Mia. Yes, and that adorable little girl that she was standing guard over must be her child.

And, who was the handsome man who was holding her as protectively as she was holding the girl? That must be Mia’s husband.  Miss Sara ventured closer. She waved, but, of course, they could not see her. She worked her way closer and kissed Mia and her girl child on the cheek. They could not see her, but they both touched their cheeks where she had planted a gentle kiss.

When the ribbon was finally severed Miss Sara read the plaque with the name of the new building upon it. “The Miss Sara Wiseman Animal Sanctuary,” it read. Miss Sara followed the crowd inside for the tour. There on the wall, framed along with graduate degrees and pictures of Mia and her family was the letter she had sent Mia so long ago and a $100.00 bill.

The facility was state of the art. One whole section was dedicated to pets who were having surgery or treatments. Another was for those in Hospice. The kennels for animals looking for a family were comfortable with heated floors for winter and air conditioning for summer. The area had many stations for volunteers and staff to wash their hands. There were a variety of play stations, a large grassy yard, and trails for the volunteers to walk dogs. Every fur baby in waiting had a blanket of his or her own that went with them when they left for their forever home. 

Miss Sara was so proud of her Little Miss Mia. Miss Sara wept. She felt herself fading and knew her time was almost gone. She made her way back reluctantly but with a smile on her face and a deep, abiding love in her heart.

September 03, 2020 19:34

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