Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kayla and Cats

One week day this past summer I was up at the clinic putting out new books and straightening the shelves. Hardly anyone was around. I always try to go after clinic hours because the clinic is very small and I could easily be in the way. A young woman came up to the books and said to me how glad she was the books were there. After we talked for a while she found out that I was the one bringing them, and she thanked me. I thought she was a patient’s sister, but it turns out she is Kayla’s mother. Kayla had just gotten out of the hospital where she had been staying for 2 ½ months and she was in a back room in the clinic in isolation receiving her day long treatment. The books were a wonderful distraction for her and her mother told me Kayla especially loved books about cats. She has a white cat at home and I know she is glad to be out of the hospital and able to go home to her. I went back and met her from the doorway. 6 years old and looking small, bald and tired. I waved and told her I would look for more cat books. Because she has been sick she has not been able to start school. These hospital rooms have been her school. I went to the store and found a small, soft pink backpack and put one of Sue’s white cat Beanie Babies and some small cat books in it and took it to the clinic for her the next time she came in. The nurses told me later she was thrilled with her gift. Later this summer I was in again and Kayla was there looking much healthier and happier and she left the clinic with her pink backpack on and another cat book under her arm. She is another special friend and lets me know how important these books are.

Our 17 year old cat, Alice, died in June. She used to love to sit with Karl and knew how to get his attention by sitting on the comics or book he was reading. Dr. Gold’s cat died that same week. Our friend Margaretta lost her 20 year old cat, Marmalade, recently and I like to think that Karl has some good cat company now. He wrote in his 7th grade journal at school: “If I had to describe myself as a dog person or a cat person I would probably say a cat person. It’s a tough decision for me since my family has 2 dogs and 3 cats. I chose cats because dogs get smelly and cats hardly ever do.”

Cats can be a comfort and a pain. Our cat, Purple, brought a live bat into the house last night at 3 AM and it is still trapped in our hall bathroom. Catching it will be another story.

Phil Holmes, the principal at Ephesus Elementary School where Karl attended for 6 years is having a book drive for us Oct 17-24. We thank him for his help and interest.

Thanks for your support.

Love, Kathy

Saturday, October 6, 2007


On one of my first trips to the clinic with bags of books to restock the shelves, I met a 13 year old boy named Zach who loves to read. He was disappointed that day because all of the books on the shelves were “too young” for him. He has remained in my thoughts and every two weeks I take a special bag for him in hopes that there will be something to help him escape into the world of reading. As I arrived one day later in the summer one of the nurses yelled out to me, "Zach is here today!". And there he was looking a bit off color, bald, hooked up to the IV receiving his treatment (I think he has leukemia, but that's certainly not what I want to talk to him about). He was very intent on a pencil drawing and I sat down with him and we talked about books. I had brought him the new Harry Potter book that Fran Schaefer had given me, and he told me he had already finished it. The nurses spotted that special book and put it in there "Birthday Box". So, he took home the Artemis Fowl books instead. He was there with his mother and sister--they drive up from Wilmington. While I was putting out the books I discovered an old issue of National Geographic Kids magazine that was Karl's and I said here is something else for Zach to read. By now he his lying down feeling extra crummy, but when I looked over at him there he was with his head in the magazine. All of a sudden--just like Karl used to do, he blurted out "Did you know that they invented parachutes before airplanes?" He had a huge smile on his face--the first I had seen. It totally transformed his face. At that moment I wished I'd had my camera. Seeing him again really helped my day.

This past week when my friend Donna and I went in with a new load of books, I noticed that the special Zach bag was still in the nurses station. Cindy told me that he came last week and was in and out of the clinic so fast (and she was probably very busy) that she never had a chance to give him the bag. That was good news to me. That means he is doing better and more than likely enjoying 8th grade.

Zach will always be special to me. He let me know that this book project is important and that Karl wasn’t the only one who loves to escape with a good book.

Thank you for your support.

Love, Kathy