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Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 9/6/2002

Grandparents Transcript

It’s National Grandparents Day this Sunday, and that has Shelley Fraser Mickle remembering.

When a child is lucky enough to have a grandparent in his or her life, it’s like being armed with a Supreme Court Justice always ready to vote in your favor.

But my friend Billy Jones has a story about his grandmother that takes the cake. It was in the summer when he was ten, and Billy followed an ugly stray cat under the loading dock beside the railroad in the little cotton town where we grew up. Now the thing is, Billy wasn’t supposed to be down at the railroad loading dock, ever. His parents had told him to never, under any circumstances, be there. It was too dangerous. But that day, Billy saw that cat prowling around the garbage outside the train terminal. It was flea-bitten and starving, and on top of that could never look pretty since it was three shades of gray mixed together like mud in a bucket.

When the cat ran under the loading dock, Billy crawled after it and caught it. He took it home and hid it in a pillowcase in his closet for three days. He couldn’t tell his parents about it, because then he’d have to lie about where he’d found it. But he knew he had to do something quick, because his mother had a poodle that every day was sniffing closer and closer to the closet.

That next Saturday was Billy’s grandmother’s birthday. So he boxed up the cat, and, right after his grandmother blew out the candles on her birthday cake, Billy gave his gift to her.

She opened the box, the cat jumped out, ran across her cake leaving a trail of footprints, and then jumped onto the top of the kitchen cabinets where it stayed for the rest of the party. And all the while, all Billy’s grandmother ever said was “Lord a mercy. What a pretty cat. Thank you, Billy.”

For years, whenever Billy went over to his grandmother’s he would play with that cat. And never once did she let on that she knew where Billy had gotten it. The truth is, though, she’d recognized it the minute it ran across her birthday cake. It had been the pet of Mr. Lewis, who had worked at the train station and had died that past winter. But Billy’s grandmother forever called it only Billy’s cat. And if you think this is a sad story, reconsider. Because Billy signed that cat up for a Cat Food Contest as The Most Unusual Cat, and it won sixteen cans of cat food and got its picture in the paper.

Yes, Billy always said, his grandmother was grand.

Posted in Holidays