He was such a cute kitten. A long-haired, Maine Coone, with big, tiger-yellow eyes and the most distinct "M" on his head: we knew Nathaniel was destined to be a "Morgan." He was my first Christmas present from Steve, after we got married.
I remember that Christmas Eve vividly. I had to work at the Health Improvement Center in Cincinnati from 6:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. As you might have guessed, December in the north is quite different from December here in the balmy south. It was frigid that day with a sprinkling of snow; so when Steve came to pick me up, I made a beeline for the car. Steve handed me a fluffy black, tan and white kitten. He had the smallest black dot on his pink nose and seemed so small and helpless. I wrapped him up in my scarf and watched him drift off to sleep on the car ride home.
Because he grew up with our dog, Jackie, Nathaniel was more like a dog than a cat. He would come when you called him, cuddle up on your lap at every opportunity and sprawl out on the floor on his back when he was done playing. He was smart, too. Who says you can't teach a cat tricks? He loved treats - especially Pounce. In order to 'earn' his treats, we taught him to pick up his toy bunny and shake it. After shaking his bunny, he would look up at us expectantly and wait for his cat treat. And talk about a cat with nicknames! It seemed like we added nicknames daily: Huber, Bart, Zenith, and Tychicus to list just a few.
Fall proved to be one of his favorite times of the year. It was clear that he felt it was his duty to 'guard' our house from all of those pesky leaves that would fall from the trees and attempt to make their way inside. He'd take up his post at the door leading out onto the deck and make funny growling noises while leaping up at the leaves as they made their erratic descent to the deck.
He seemed to know that he was a Christmas cat, because every December without fail he'd sing "Jingle Bells" with us. We'd sing a few words and stop, letting him fill in the appropriate 'meow.' He was very talented. He loved to check out the Christmas presents under the tree and on Christmas day we would find him fast asleep in one of the gift boxes that had held someone's present - as if to remind us that he was the first Christmas present Steve had gotten me.
This year, we'll miss Nathaniel and all of the special things he used to do. After being diagnosed with kidney failure last November, Nathaniel put up a brave fight until he passed away just two months ago. I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a "1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die;" (KJV).
Although a void has been left in our family with the passing of Nathaniel, God allowed us eighteen and a half years to enjoy our faithful pet. What a lot of great memories we have to treasure. God's creation is amazing. I'm thankful that in His infinite wisdom He not only provides our biggest need - salvation (John 3:16), but that He provides little things like pets that give us joy along our journey. What a mighty, caring God we serve!