While I was living with my grandmother, after I returned home from my mission, I went to visit my sister and got the opportunity to get a wild kitten. When I say wild, I mean a cat that was born outside, and never had the chance to socialize with humans. The children who owned the mother cat were somehow able to grab a kitten for me. I seem to remember I had to take the first one they could catch because it was such a difficult task. But this kitten was beautiful. He was a long hair gray cat. I took him home and gave him to my grandmother for a birthday present. As unimaginative as it sounds, she named him Smokey. But to be honest, he never really belonged to her. Or maybe I should say, she never really belonged to him. From the first, he bonded with me.
Taming him was a long term effort. When I first put him in the car, he wouldn't let me touch him. He crawled under the seat somewhere and meowed the whole hour long drive home. When I got him home, he darted out of the car and made a beeline for the bushes. It took a long time for me to lure him out with food. He wouldn't come near me, but I kept talking to him. Little by little he became used to me and each day came closer. I think when he finally discovered how good my scratches and petting felt, he was hooked. He soon decided I was his favorite person.
Right from the start I began the practice of whistling every time I fed him. Soon he would come to a whistle whether I fed him or not. Often he would go and sleep in an old shed to get out of the bitter cold, but if I whistled for him, he would come running. He would meow to answer my calls. He never seemed to mind being called from a sound sleep, and always seemed to enjoy my company.
I soon moved away from my grandmother's house, but because I had given Smokey to her, I had to leave him behind. One day my grandmother went out to the barn yard to chop some wood. There was an old bathtub there that was used for water for the horses. Smokey perched up on the bathtub to watch her chop wood. Suddenly a storm broke out and lightening struck and hit the cat. My grandmother said her ears rang for quite some time after that lightening strike. She didn't know immediately that the cat had been hurt, but days later found him dead with a wound in his side.
There was something about the taming process that bonded us to each other. Not only did he love me because he first trusted me, but the struggling on my part bonded me to him as well. I haven't had a cat since who was as attached to me as Smokey.
Why do I tell you this story? Because today I was reminded that people can do this same thing for each other. There are those who reach out to those who have been hurt, or who fear, or who have been through trauma. They gently pull them along and help them learn to trust again. And just as in the case with my grandmother's cat, a bond is formed that is unlike any other.