A true story, based on family oral tradition
from the oldest part of the city of Bern,
capitol of Switzerland, where my mother was
born and raised, in the Nydegghoff)
He lighted the candle with a quivering hand,
his overcoat seeming to weigh down the old man.
He paused in the aisle to genuflect,
and wondered if God knew his heart was a wreck.
He found a pew and got to his knees,
hands clasped together, he sent out his pleas.
He is old and he's tired, now he's alone,
his wife died last Spring, now his house wasn't home.
They'd been blessed with one son, he'd died in the war,
and now there was nothing for him to live for.
He prayed until his knee pain was great,
then sat back in the pew and tried not to shake.
The cathedral was beautiful; he loved the stained glass,
but, oh, they brought memories of Sundays past.
How could he make it through Christmas alone
in a house that was empty, no longer a home?
The kitchen was silent and cold as a tomb,
but her scent lingered on in their modest bedroom.
He said one last prayer, then rose to his feet,
genuflecting again, he went out on the street.
He walked home near blindly, not even aware
of the snow that was landing on his shoulders and hair.
He was cold inside, his heart like a stone,
and he felt completely and utterly alone.
He turned down his street, saw his porch light's glow,
and only then realized it had started to snow.
He opened his gate, thought of making some soup,
but froze in his tracks at the sight on the stoop.
On his porch sat a basket, the old wicker kind,
he thought for a moment, he was losing his mind.
Inside the basket that sat on his mat,
were three tiny kittens and one momma cat.
What a pitiful sight, so cold and so thin,
he scooped up the basket and hurried them in.
He found some canned tuna and warmed up some milk,
gently petting the babies, whose fur was like silk.
He never discovered who left those cats there,
but, as his love grew, he no longer cared.
His wife had loved cats and this comforted him,
as they slept on his head, or tucked under his chin.
The kittens grew quickly, as they're wont to do,
amused by their antics, his love grew and grew.
There was laughter and joy 'til the end of his days,
for God works, as you know, in mysterious ways.