March 12, 1970
Nate loved to touch soft things – a newborn’s cheek, a silk scarf, a kitten’s fur. He also loved touching ear lobes, mine in particular. Often as we talked he’d reach over and gently brush my ear without even realizing he was doing it.
As a little boy, Nate had discovered pussy willow branches and told me he’d been fascinated by their soft grey buds (or “catkins”) in early spring. His Uncle Bob had interested him further by telling him if he put some catkins into a saucer of milk, each one would grow into a little kitty.
Of course the young Nathan tried it, but all he learned was not to believe everything that came out of Uncle Bob’s mouth.
I knew of Nate’s interest in pussy willows and one day in March decided to buy a single branch, just for him. The long stem was loaded with fluffy buds, each one super-soft.
The next morning, he was still asleep when I left for school, having burned the midnight oil over law books the previous night. Before I left, I set out a box of cereal, bowl, spoon, and some milk, placing the pussy willow branch across the bowl as a special surprise.
When I returned from a day of teaching, I found a sweet note he’d written that made reference to John and Cathy’s cat, Jeanette. He had taped a few pussy willow buds to the card:
“Are these little Jeanette’s paws? How did these little pussycat feet get in Big Bear’s porridge? Hmmm?”
I loved knowing my busy husband took time out to write me a silly note, acknowledging my gift. And I was pleased he was gentle enough to enjoy touching soft things. Maybe that was because he had told me the softest thing in all the world, even softer than a pussy willow bud…. was me.
“Pursue…. gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)