In nineteen thirty-six, in Sunday school,
someone said: Did you hear about Harvey?
You mean that guy who always acts the fool?
I heard that he has Hepatitis B!
Oh, wow! I didn’t know that he was sick!
They think he could die. We might lose a friend.
We’ll cheer Harvey up. Think of something quick!
A dozen roses would be nice to send.
The Sunday school class wanted to be kind…
Roses were too expensive, it was clear.
A cat with a cactus tail…What a find!
What a perfect gift to bring Harvey cheer!
Harvey, my Dad, was too stubborn to die!
Fifteen-year-old Harvey dodged tragedy!
That cactus-tailed cat was the reason why
they joined the Church…Harvey’s whole family!
Harvey became a Methodist preacher,
devoted to service for fifty years.
He was a story-teller and teacher;
he visited the sick and calmed their fears.
My Grandma gave me the cactus-tailed cat
that changed the family’s way of living.
The cat’s now a gift for my daughter that
honors her life of service and giving.
Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia
This poem is based on a true family story as told to me by my grandmother and my father. The first three verses are an imagined conversation showing how the Sunday school class decided to send the cactus cat to my father in the hospital.
The cactus-tailed cat is ready to send to my daughter, Ellen, in Texas. Ellen is an ordained Baptist chaplain and is taking seminary classes. She has taught Recovery classes for several years and is an administrator for the program.. I am not sure what her future plans are.
Disclosure: The cat is posing for this photo with an improvised cucumber tail. She is looking forward to getting a new cactus tail when she arrives in Texas.