A Gift from George by Alyce Whelan

Good day to you all, Finn McCool, the Magic Leprechaun Cat, here to welcome you to my Story Blog. It is an honor and a pleasure for me to introduce you to a wonderful Irish-American lady and my dear friend, Alyce Whelan. Alyce told me this wonderful story about her two cats, George, and a very special ginger tabby she named Phantom. A fine writer in her own right, I have invited Alyce to share her story here with you. Magic Leprechaun Cats come into the lives of humans in need of comforting, love or companionship. Perhaps Phantom is one of them.

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The minute we saw the farm, we knew it would be just perfect. Located about five miles out of the city, on a country road not yet marred by tract-home developers, it had the kind of rural beauty we were looking for, and the peace that the suburban neighborhood where we lived could not provide. We were ready to breathe again in the presence of pure Nature, and find purpose in connecting with the land.

The farmhouse was a modest size, mellowed by its years. Having embraced its occupants, it seemed reluctant to see them move on, though it might have known they had reached a time when the farm work had become too much for them.

Over the years, they had cultivated and cared for several acres of filbert, walnut, and fruit trees. Dozens of flowering shrubs, a lovely rose garden, and massive oak trees for shade clearly showed the love these people had for this land. We were to be the benefactors of this love.

There was another gift that would be ours, though no experience we’d had previously would prepare us for it.

Moving day arrived. As we were having our final meeting with the sellers on the deck, we were surprised to see a friendly gray tabby cat sidle-up to us.

“Oh, by the way,” spoke the farmer, “This is George. He’s an old fella, and has always been here with us. We didn’t have the heart to transplant him to our new town place. He’d never be happy there.

“One time,” the farmer continued, “we tried to take George to another home along the highway here, but he quickly found his way back home. It was a long trek for him, but with that need and determination, there was nothing we could do but welcome him back. Now he’s yours, just part of the deal. Hope you don’t mind.”

Of course we didn’t mind! We loved animals, and our hearts embraced him on the spot.

Then the farmer spoke again. He said, “Oh, and there’s another kitty. A barn cat, that won’t let people near her.

“She’s spooky and fearful,” he said, “because the day we chose to spay her, she knew, and did all she could to elude us. Finally, we caught and caged her. Her resignation was painful to watch. It was then her resentment was born. We could never get near her again.

“She’s a pretty girl,” he added, “yellow and white, healthy and aloof. She’s also yours now, but at least she won’t be another mouth to feed.”

That’s how we became ‘adoptive cat parents.’ It was going to be a pleasure to share this lovely place with these two indigenous residents. It just felt right to allow them to live out their lives in the comfort of the only home they’d known.

One day, after settling in, I felt curious about the kitty in the barn. I wanted to see whether I could meet her, and maybe coax her to come to me.

She was bedded in the hayloft, so I had to climb a ladder to reach her. I knew it was best to keep enough distance, that way I wouldn’t startle or displace her.

When I reached her, she was sleeping in the hay. I spoke very softly to her in the way to which kitties usually respond. But much as I tried, there was no movement toward me. I could see her reluctance, even her distain for my intrusion. I quietly moved down the ladder, but first told her I’d be back to see her another time. I don’t think she cared one bit.

As the days warmed in that spring season, I would spot the kitty in the fields nearby catching her dinners. She was always swift and sure at this, with the precision that nature provides for the hunters of the animal kingdom.

I’d sit under the apple tree by the grassy place that was her hunting ground, determined to somehow reach her and to befriend her. I persisted at calling her and telling her she’d be safe with me…that I understood her resistance, and would only be her caring friend. It was then I decided to name her Phantom. It suited her elusive demeanor and the bit of mystery about her.

I know there is a bridge in the stream of intelligence that flows through all life on this earth. I know it is shared by all sentient kingdoms. I’ve heard that even plants respond to human focus and voice vibrations directed toward them, even from miles away.

The animal kingdom is very interactive with us. Some of them are meant to be attracted to and comfortable with us, even serving our special needs by bringing us a kind of joy that teaches, guides, and heals our own lives. This kitty needed to remember her instincts for this, and learn to trust again.

One day, while I was sunning on the deck outside the kitchen, Phantom came near the steps. I held my breath and lay motionless, giving her the assurance that I would not be a threat to her safety or independence. She seemed to want to lie in the sun too, and watch the butterflies flit about the rose garden. I was secretly thrilled that at least she was willing to share a space, though at a distance.

Again, I called her name softly, inviting her to come closer. She simply looked at me, but didn’t move away or closer. Progress, I thought! I’ll take it very slowly and be patient with her timing. But Phantom lived her name, and just didn’t move beyond her comfortable parameters. There wasn’t really any true interaction yet.

There was a trellis that covered part of that deck, with pretty vines creeping up the side toward the slatted top. Sometimes I’d sit in a chair there, and George, friendly guy that he was, would jump into my lap.

One day, George got more adventuresome than I’d ever seen him. He made his way up the trellis to the slatted canopy. Because his footing was not secure, he slipped trying to back down from that upper perch. Phantom, who’d been nearby, tore up the trellis to reach George in his crisis, answering his feline distress call. She tried her best to cushion his fall.

What a thing to witness! This shared consciousness in action. It was an incident that at once awed me and warmed my heart. These two were certainly buddies, and the caring was indisputable. Yes, my heart smiled.

One moonlit evening, at the point of early darkness, I looked out the kitchen door to see George sitting on the deck. His back was to me. He faced the sky, where a moon, full and yellow, graced the evening with a light that put George in a silhouette. It caught my breath. I thought, how interesting—he’s surveying his kingdom.

Next day my husband had some errands to do in town. He said he’d be back later in the afternoon.

About five minutes after he’d left, I heard the car return. Surprised, I found him walking back to the house and I asked what was up?

He spoke slowly, tears welling up in his eyes. “George is dead,” he said. “He’s been hit by a car just down the road, and was lying in the gutter.”

I screamed. “No, no! Where is he now!?”

His words didn’t seem real, as he said, “I put him in the back of the car and brought him home.”

I ran to the car in disbelief and anguish. George was still warm, but his vital self was no longer there. I cried again, and felt so helpless for a moment.

Then, knowing we would have to bury him, said, “Let’s put him by the bird bath where he always liked to drink. It was his favorite place.”

So my husband got a shovel and dug a place near the bird bath, while I got a clean pillowcase in which to wrap George.

A couple of days passed, while we each quietly grieved.

Though George was always an outdoor cat, his presence on the deck, or there in a chair, or sunning on the pebbly driveway always seemed—well, right. He would indeed be missed.

Most of our lives are lived on what we call the visible plane. But we also know that our thoughts, ideas, feelings, inspirations, creative processes, intuition, telepathy and dreaming, to name a few, are not of the physical substance we regard as “reality”. They are of the ethereal dimensions where the like of angels, spirit guides and teachers, have their Being, giving us nudges on occasion, to remind us that we are indeed more than what our five senses convey, more than our personalities, even more than our intellect.

What took place next can only be called a kind of miracle. Although, what it really did was simply open wider for us the doorway to that dimension just beyond the physical.

There was a glass and wood-frame enclosure around the cellar door and kitchen entrance to keep out the wind, rain and snows of the more inclement seasons. In order for George to come into that protected area to eat his food and drink fresh water, there was a standard-type kitty door. After George’s passing, I took away the dishes at the place near the cellar door where he’d found his meals. It was sad, as it left us with a feeling of emptiness.

It was a pleasant sunny afternoon. I decided to indulge myself in some deck-basking.

Seeing Phantom in the yard, I called to her. She moved toward me, and stepped onto the deck.

She had never responded this way, and a surge of excitement swept through me. Something was different! Could it be she would come to me?

Very cautiously, I got up and moved to the door into the enclosure at the kitchen. Something prompted me to go in, grab some cat food left from George’s supply, and replace the dishes at the spot near the cellar door. Would she come in through the kitty door and eat the food?

I sat on those inside steps and waited.

“Come kitty, come Phantom,” I called.

Yes!! In through the doorway she pushed her furry self and walked up to the dish.

I took a chance and carefully stood up so that I could get closer to her. As she began tasting the food, I gently reached down to touch her back. Amazingly she didn’t move away, she just kept eating the food!

For the first time since that day I saw her in the hayloft, I touched this lovely creature, stroking her, as she finished the meal. I could scarcely hold in my delight. Sitting back on the steps, I just waited for what might happen now.

I kept talking to her, saying things like “Beautiful girl,” and “It’s alright.” “Thank you for coming here!”

I thought I would melt with happiness when she moved up the steps and crawled under my knees, back-and-forth, as I stroked her head and back.

“Good heavens” I thought, “Is this really happening!? What is this sudden alteration in her behavior?”

Later that day, we saw her sitting on the deck. It was like looking at George. Her body posture, head position, even facial expression looked exactly as we had seen George look so many times.

In astonishment, I remarked to my husband, “I believe George’s spirit has moved in with Phantom’s! I think he knows how much we need this animal companionship in our lives, and how we miss his role. George is giving his friend, Phantom, a way to fulfill our need, and heal our grief.

“Oh my goodness,” I said, joyfully. “What a gift to us! Thank you, thank you, George.”

This is a true story. It took place in 1993, in a small country town in Oregon, USA.

© Alyce Whelan 2011
© Finn McCool, the Magic Leprechaun Cat. All rights reserved.
Illustrations by Cheyenne Booker – All rights reserved


  1. July 22nd, 2011

    finn this story touched my heart. i loved it. and i truly believe george came to phantom. thanks for another lovely story.


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