On January 4, I took my new cats home. I had to isolate them both from my existing cat, just to ensure that they were healthy, and so that my existing cat would not be overwhelmed by his new roommates. “No Name” was staying in my bathroom. She was coughing and sneezing, so I took her to the vet the next day, and began treating her with antibiotics for the cold. Over the next several days, I began to bond with this animal as I cared for her. She allowed me to do anything – clean her ears, clean her eyes, administer medication – she especially loved to be wiped down with baby wipes (I did not want to give her a bath just yet). She never scratched, bit, or fought me. It was like she knew I loved her, and she trusted me.
Corduroy was a book I owned as a child. First published in 1968, the story follows a little teddy bear named Corduroy who sits amongst the other toys in a department store, hoping that someone will buy him and take him home. One day, a girl named Lisa sees Corduroy, and tells her mother she really wants the bear. Lisa’s mother tells her that they’ve already spent too much money, and besides, the bear is missing a button.
That night, Corduroy searches the entire department store, trying to find a button so he can fix his defect. He does find a button, but he is returned to the shelf before he can do anything about it. The next day, when the department store opens, Lisa returns to buy the bear with her own money, and Corduroy gets to go home, even though he still is missing a button.
As an adult, I am struck by the profound similarity between this simple children’s story and the gospel.As a child, and I remember being overcome with emotion when Corduroy was finally taken home. But as an adult, I am struck by the profound similarity between this simple children’s story and the gospel. Here is a teddy bear who is not perfect, and in order to increase his chances of being loved, he tries to “fix himself”, and he fails. In an unlikely twist, a little girl spends all she has in order to purchase the bear, brings him home, and sews a new button on for him, making him like new again. The story doesn’t tell us why Lisa chooses this bear. We never know why. She just elects to take him home, even in his imperfect condition. The story continues to have such a profound impact upon me, even as an adult. It was only natural I name my new cat after the bear in this story.
But Corduroy's improvement was short lived. On the evening of January 11, her eyes were weighed down by mucous and her breathing became quite labored. I took her to the vet the following day and had her x-rayed. Her cold was gone, but her lungs were nearly filled with fluid, and she had a few nodules on her lungs as well. The x-ray also showed that she had a BB lodged in her back. “I don’t know if this cat is going to live,” the vet told me, but she gave Corduroy an injection to help open up her airways, and sent me home with even more aggressive antibiotics. Within five hours, Corduroy took a turn for the worse. She began to panic as she realized she could no longer breathe. I acted quickly, and headed for the overnight emergency clinic to have her euthanized, but I was too late. Corduroy died on January 12, 2011, only 8 days after I brought her into her new home. I bawled, listening to her cries as she struggled for oxygen, and the final gurgling sound she made as she drowned right there in my car.
I highly recommend the book Corduroy, by Don Freeman, and believe it will be an important addition to your child’s library. If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can have it read to you here: