Touched by an angel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

WOODLAND – The Christmas story you are about to hear would have otherwise been lost had it not been for a forward received by the R-C News Herald from a friend who received an email describing the following events. Although the forward listed the contact information of the author, the email had been sent to the paper unbenounced to the author who resides with her family in Woodland. This is her story.

In September, Carol Watt came home to more than she bargained for when she discovered that a litter of six kittens had been dumped on her porch. Being the owner of four cats of her own and 10 dogs, this was hardly a welcomed addition to the household and was the last thing she needed or wanted!

Having resolved to find homes for the newfound furry friends, Watt decided to place an ad in the Roanoke Chowan News Herald. Being familiar with healthy practices of adopting out animals from her experience as a breeder of miniature shepherd-like canines, Watt noted the requirements of a vet reference and restricted the giving of the creatures as Christmas gifts.

Within 24 hours, Watt had successfully adopted out two of the six kittens, but much to her dismay and only one day left to the ad, four still remained. On the last day, Watt received a phone call.

&uot;My daughter gave me the phone and I was prepared with my speech about indoor cats, shots, neutering, etc., but something happened,&uot; said Watt.

&uot;I can’t explain it now or ever, but when I heard this woman’s voice, I felt that God or fate or whatever you believe in, had placed this family in my path.&uot;

As the conversation progressed, the woman explained that she was looking for a kitten for her five-year old daughter for Christmas.

&uot;These are two big red flags and would normally deny an adoption from me, but even as the words, ‘What are you doing?’ dashed through my mind, I found myself saying, ‘Yes, I have a kitten for your daughter’,&uot; said Watt.

After chatting for a few minutes more, Watt sensed that there was &uot;more to this than wanting a kitten&uot; so she simply said, &uot;Talk to me.&uot; Watt recalled a silence from the other side of the phone as the woman began to cry.

Sharing from the deepest chambers of her heart, the woman, whose name has been withheld respectfully, told Watt that after 17 years of failure to conceive a child, her and her husband gave birth to their daughter at the age of 39. The woman proceeded to tell Watt that she had been diagnosed with cancer lymphoma three years ago and that despite repeated surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer had metastasized.

She explained that, because her most recent surgery was not covered in her insurance plan, she had to go out of network, causing her and her family to pay thousands of dollars up front leaving them, in Watt’s words, &uot;financially and emotionally devastated.&uot;

Although they had been given an emergency voucher for a food bank, the holidays had caused the depletion of many of the pantries, including churches, and even though they had applied for assistance from the state, help would not be forthcoming for at least a month.

The woman added that when she had taken her daughter to the mall to see Santa, her little girl asked for only two things: for Mommy to get well and a kitten.

The woman stated that the kitten would be the only thing her daughter would find on Christmas morning.

&uot;I don’t know how I held it together on the phone,&uot; recalled Watt. &uot;She kept apologizing to me for burdening me with this, saying she had no idea why she was telling a total stranger her life story, but I knew,&uot; said Watt.

&uot;We have been very blessed recently,&uot; commented Watt. &uot;By most people’s standards, our finances are ‘piddling,’ but to us, it’s huge. I’ve been donating to food banks, charities, animal rescues and national charities, but it felt very hollow because I couldn’t see where my money was helping.&uot;

Watt continued, &uot;As a family, we’ve been praying for guidance on the use of our windfall and here was our answer. After the call ended, I called everyone to the kitchen and told them this story.&uot;

Willingly, without hesitation, Watt, her husband and their 17 year-old daughter and 15 year-old son agreed to sacrifice the items on their Christmas lists in hopes of blessing another family in need.

&uot;Everyone said, ‘So when are we going shopping’,&uot; recanted Watt.

Watt and her family did shop! They purchased Barbie dolls, toys, educational games, clothes and even a gift certificate to Food Lion.

&uot;So when she and her husband come to pick up their daughter’s gift, they’ll get one of their own. On Christmas morning a little girl will truly believe in Angels and her parents will have food and a small financial buffer to help the family through a very tough time,&uot; said Watt.

In her email, Watt stated, &uot;My son will not have his Nintendo Game Cube. My daughter will not have her $250 gift card to her favorite clothing store. My husband will not have his expensive hunting binoculars and I will not have my steam cleaner, BUT, we will not be able to stop smiling.&uot;

Watt expressed her candid surprise when the News-Herald shared that Sherry Gottlieb, a writer and personal friend of Watt, had been the one who secretly forwarded her tender holiday email to the newspaper.

Gottlieb, who lives in California, forwarded the story to Editor Cal Bryant after performing a search on Google because she &uot;thought someone there might want to follow up on it.&uot;

Well, someone did, and not just the newspaper.

According to Watt, a &uot;very good friend&uot; whom she knows only through correspondence via her ‘dog email list,’ a network of breeders and/or owners of the cute furry canines called, Cotons, was deeply moved by the email and sent gift certificates for Watt’s children to purchase the gifts they had anticipated receiving.

&uot;It was amazing; we totally weren’t expecting anything,&uot; said Watt whose closing comments not only reveal her true intentions, but thanks to a strategic ploy by a friend on the Pacific Coast that has made its way across the country with an admonition worthy for all hearts to hear.

She stated, &uot;I didn’t write this to get kudos. I wrote this because many of us have unintentionally distanced ourselves from our own spirits.

&uot;We write a check to a charity or cause, but never FEEL it. It is easier to be an uninvolved contributor than to come face to face with others’ stark and hard reality. We spend lavishly on our family, friends, dogs, but insulate ourselves from sharing our hearts with the people who need it the most. So next time an unexpected and unwanted event gets dropped in your lap, think about this story. Maybe you’re being called to be someone’s Angel.&uot;