By Valerie Hillard
My first kitten was named "Tigger." He was a dark, tiger-striped breed. Tigger was born and lived outdoors. I fed and gave him water every day at my maternal Gramma's side porch. She permitted this.
I asked her to continue doing this for Tigger when I had to leave with my family at age six to fly to Okinawa to live for four years while my father served in the U.S. Air Force. Gramma said she would.
She was alone in the world. Her husband, Grampa Billy, had died.
I cried en route to Okinawa about both losing Tigger and also his welfare without me there to love and care for him. I wept because I knew I would never see Tigger again. My beautiful tiger-striped friend was gone. It was October of 1966.
Acceptance is often hard to muster but muster we must if we want to continue to grow. It was a sunny, cold morning that March of 2021 day when our temporary apartment manager asked, who owned the 2015 forest green Chevy Cruz car in our parking lot.
"Ellen does," we answered. They asked why he wanted to know. The manager explained that she heard meowing coming from beneath the hood. Ellen brought the car key out and she popped the hood.
There wedged between the engine and some electrical components was a beautiful, tiger-striped kitten. It appeared to be about two months old. The manager said, "Val, you've been wanting a kitten; it's yours."
With that my friend, Elaine, gently eased the kitten out of its gridlock and into my hands. Like Jamie had been when I first got him, this kitten was too small to tell if it was male or female.
Elaine looked it over well and determined it was a girl. Thus, I named her, "Lily."
She remained Lily until the day she was to be spayed. The vet cut her open only to discover that Lily was a male. Hence, kitty was sutured and neutered instead.
When kitty was seen for a check-up and vaccinations by her own veterinarians, it was suggested I select a new name for kitty something simple that perhaps would rhyme with Lily.
I decided on the name, "Billy," in honor of my maternal grandfather and grandmother to whom I had entrusted Tigger and his care 55 years ago.
Billy has accepted his name change with ease. He recognizes and responds to voice commands in which his name is used. Billy favors my presence over being alone. He sleeps with me at night and near me when he naps.
We play together. Billy will soon be having surgery. I will care for him and nurse him to recovery. He is my responsibility, my privilege, my baby and my friend.
Billy came to me under the hood of a Chevy Cruz car on a cold, winter's day. I accept this as God's invitation to adopt Billy.