How Martha Came From The Shelter To Our Lives

Yesterday we discussed the loss of our cat, Sally (whose ashes are sitting next to me on my desk) and I was reminded of the circumstances of obtaining our Martha.

As my wife, Brenda, is an artist and has her working studios built into our home, our pets have always been her constant companions. Sally, for example, would follow Brenda around the house in hopes that she would work in watercolors. When she did, Sally would sit, statuesque, and “drink” from the water glass Brenda rinsed her watercolor brushes in. I wrote “drink” because she would delicately put her right front foot onto the surface film of the water, then lick her foot. I wish we had video of her doing that.

Martha predated Pearl, so when Sally was gone we had no pets for a while. Brenda found it to be unbearably lonely and asked me one night at supper, “I need a kitty. Are you ready?”

“No, I’m not,” I confessed, “but I know you need a working companion, so I’ll go with you to the shelter while you pick one out. But, it will have to be your kitty. I’m not ready for one of my own yet.”

The following Monday we went to the Humane Society of South Mississippi. It was February, 1994, during my second Presidency of the Board of Directors of the shelter. So, I convinced myself, I was there on an official basis, to ensure things were being done correctly with a surprise visit. I left Brenda in the kitten room after having surveyed the cages for cleanliness and the presence of adequate food and water. As I made my first round, though, a little black kitten came up to the front of the cage and licked my finger.

Little heart-stealer!

I left quickly and made my way to the adult dog runs, where I was sure the heart I was unready and unwilling to give away was safe from further attacks.

I found everything in order everywhere I went in the shelter and made my way, slowly, back to the kitten room. “Brenda, have you made a choice yet?”

“No, I want to take all of them.”

How I got in front of the black kitten’s cage again I’m not sure, but there she was licking my finger again. “I think our choice has been made for us, Baby.”

“What do you mean?” Brenda asked as she looked at me quizzically.

“This one keeps licking my finger and I can’t make her stop.”

“Well, then, that’s the one,” Brenda agreed.

I mentioned it was a Monday in February. I didn’t mention it was a holiday. Martin Luther King’s Birthday, to be exact. So, the day gave our new kitten her name: Martha Luther King Randolph.

At some later date the Board of Directors was discussing holiday closings for the shelter. I stood up, told Martha’s story, and said, “If the shelter had been closed for that holiday, we might not have our little Martha today. I vote that Martin Luther King’s Birthday be a day the shelter is always open for adoptions.”

The Board voted yes unanimously.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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