Honestly, if you were to ask any cat lover what would be the best birthday gift ever, the answer would most definitely be – a cat.
At least that was the case with me as I was a young girl.
If I’m being completely honest, an adorable kitten is still at the top of my list, I just prefer to keep it for myself. I already have three cats and I definitely don’t want my friends to assume I am some kind of crazy cat lady (although they would not be far from the truth).
Anyway, when I was younger, I used to beg my parents to get me a kitten for my birthday. Every. Single. Year. Even though we already had several cats roaming around our backyard.
But there was something so special in being gifted something you hold so dear to your heart. And I am sure the protagonist of our today’s story would agree with me.
Meet Lillian Grant, a lovely resident of Ridgeview Gardens Assisted Living in St. George, Utah who asked for a very special gift for her 103rd birthday.
Lillian used to be a proud cat mom of a lovely cat named Sammy. Unfortunately, just over a year before her 103rd birthday, her beloved Sammy sadly passed away, leaving her heartbroken and in need of a new furry companion.
Everyone at the facility loved Lillian. So naturally, Debbie Persland, the administrator at Ridgeview Gardens Assisted Living, wanted to ensure she has the best birthday party ever.
A week prior to her birthday party, Debbie asked Lillian what would be her ideal birthday present. If she could choose anything in this world, what would she choose as her gift? To which Lillian simply said, “A sweet cat like Sammy.”
When she heard Lillian’s simple yet heartwarming wish, Debbie was deeply touched. So from that moment on, she had promised herself she would do everything in her power to get Lillian the gift she so strongly wants and deserves.
Luckily for her, her brother, Joseph Harradine, was working as an animal services officer at St. George Animal Shelter. So, she contacted him and asked if he would be so kind and help her get Lillian a new fluffy companion.
Joseph agreed and after consulting with others at the shelter, they have agreed that Marley, a beautiful 9-year-old feline, is a perfect candidate for Lillian.
What made Marley so special was the fact that his previous owner was also an older lady who unfortunately had to give him up because she was supposed to move to an assisted living facility that did not allow animals.
Joseph said how they had put a lot of thought into deciding what feline to opt for. They all wanted to ensure Lillian and the kitty are a perfect match. However, in case that did not happen, Joseph said how they were ready to try with another feline.
Fortunately, there was no need for that.
On April 6th, the date of Lillian’s birthday party, Debbie and other workers had prepared all the fun decorations, delicious food, refreshing beverages, and of course – her birthday cake.
Just before they brought the cake out, Debbie told Lillian that they have a very special surprise for her. At that moment, Josh brought out Marley and Lillian immediately took him in her arms.
No one could deny it – the connection was there!
Lillian started cuddling with Marley and forgot about the cake, her guest, and all the other birthday-related things. However, Debbie feared that Lillian did not quite understand why Marley was there. She was under the impression that Lillian thought Marley was just visiting her.
So, she decided to lean over and whispered to her “This is going to be your cat now.”
When Lillian heard this, her eyes filled with tears. At that moment, it was evident how much she truly craved a feline friend.
It is no secret that a company of a cat can have many benefits for an elderly person. After Sammy passed away, Lillian was probably feeling lonely and sad. But it was time to finally change that and put back a smile on her face!
In the days that followed her birthday party, Lillian and Marley became real friends. According to Debbie, these two were inseparable.
Marley was everything Lillian wanted to talk about. And most of the time, she even refused to leave his side. She always wondered where he is and what he had been up to, and when is he going to come back to her.
She even called him Sammy on several occasions, after her late kitty whom she still missed so much.
Because Lillian was an older lady, the shelter where Joseph worked had to ensure that Marley would have a safe home, even if something happened to Lillian in the years to come. If, for whatever reason, Lillian becomes unable to take care of him, the shelter needed proof Marley would still be taken care of.
And that’s where Debbie stepped in. She agreed that she would take the role of Marley’s owner if (or more likely when) something happens to Lillian.
Debbie said that she did not mind this small sacrifice. She said how she had always liked cats, and if putting a smile on Lillian’s face meant that she would have to adopt Marley when her dear friend passes away – it was all worth it!
Such a small act of kindness truly can mean the world to some people. I hope this story inspires us all to do good to the people we love and care for, even if doing good means getting them a cat. Why not, really?! That’s the best act of kindness in my book, anyway.