Leukemia was the diagnosis and the prognosis was even worse. My mother was dying her doctors told us. It was then that I realized that it was time to go home. Returning to my homeland after 20 years abroad had it’s challenges, a single mom, two young kids, no income, my mother sick…WHAT was I thinking! My priority as a mother was to help my children settle into their new surroundings and give them the best chance to get to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a huge adjustment to move to a country where the culture was entirely different than the one they had been born and raised in. My four-year old daughter had the biggest adjustment. She could barely speak English and would be starting kindergarten in a matter of months. The first weeks in her new classroom were tough. Every morning I would drop her off at school only to have her cling hysterically to my leg, tears running down her face. We were both miserable. I finally made a pact with her. Her biggest wish was to have a kitten. One afternoon, I got down on one knee, took her in my arms and asked, “If we get you a kitten will you try not to cry in the morning when I take you to school?” She sat quietly for a few minutes and then slowly nodded her head. “Yes.”
Impossibly fluffy Molly and her tiny sister, Isabelle, joined our family two days later. How can you just bring home just ONE kitten? Molly, a mitten foot calico, resembled a multi-colored feather duster. Her sister, Isabelle, also a calico, was all big frightened eyes and shyness. She spent the first entire week cowering behind the sofa. But the crying stopped.
It was weeks later when my daughter skipped out from her classroom, grabbed my hand and looked up at me with her big blue eyes and asked, “Would it be ok if my teacher were my mom and you were my big sister”. I smiled. Success! I felt relief knowing that everything was going to be alright. Our new life was headed in the right direction.