Charley and Nancy David are dear friends from Asheville. I was once their pastor. They sent me a card with a picture of a chimpanzee smoking a cigarette. He is holding it rather elegantly. The message says, “No reason for this card really ... just thought a smokin’ monkey was funny as hell!” It is! This and many, many cards remind me of the healing power of beloved pets. Now, I’ve never had a pet monkey but I have experienced the annoyed gaze of a chimp or two who were perturbed at how I have devolved from their family tree.
I don’t think all pets are necessarily healers. Take goldfish, for example. They are beautiful to look at. I have tried, but I just could not develop a meaningful relationship with finny creatures. An aardvark is another example. I haven’t had much contact with these anteaters. But, to be honest, I’m put off by their noses. I know this is an irrational response. On the other hand, I don’t have a negative reaction to elephant noses. Maybe it’s because they eat peanuts instead of ants. Also, you need a pet that can remember you. I don’t know whether an aardvark could remember me as well as an elephant.
As y’all know, I love cats and dogs. At least three-fourths of the cards I have received have pictures of cats or dogs. We have had lots of dogs and cats through the years. Our cat, Liberty, is our only pet now. She is past 20 years old now. She dotes on me. When I sit in my favorite chair, she is onto my chest in seconds. She places her left paw on my heart. Sometimes she grooms my whiskers. And she purrs loudly. We chat with each other. When I feel well, she can get cranky. She demands more attention. When I feel poorly, she is quieter and purrs more. She knows without being told. I can see it in her eyes.
Back to the cards: This one is from my favorite cardiologist, Harry Turner and Pat, his wife, in Kingsport, Tenn. I think this is Harry’s word of encouragement that this will turn out okay for me. Two dogs are watching a clothes dryer full of cats. One says to the other, “You won’t believe how soft and fluffy they come out!” I’m fluffier already. I love these cats and dogs!
I’ll close with this. Two of our dearest friends are Joel and Nayfee Krugler from Cornelius. Joel is a scientist and one of the smartest people I know. He is a religious skeptic, one of many who read my work. The card he sent read: “There’s probably a Bible verse that’d be perfect right now. Too bad you have heathens for friends.”
Joel is the godliest heathen I know. Nayfee is a devout Muslim. Joel often tells me, “I’m hoping and Nayfee is praying for you.” When he called me recently to check on me, I could hear her praying for me in the background. Readers like all of you give me confidence that, thank God, we won’t believe how fluffy we will eventually come out.