The Cat Named Blessing— Mary M. Alward —

Human beings are drawn to cats because they are all we are not — self-contained, elegant in everything they do, relaxed, assured, glad of company, yet still possessing secret lives.

~Pam Brown

There were elderly residents at the nursing home where I worked, but there were some young ones as well. They were there because of life-altering illnesses. One of them, Diane, was only fifty-six, but she had muscular dystrophy. Her mother had passed, and Diane needed the services the nursing home could provide her. Everyone loved her, nurses and residents alike. She was full of cheer and positivity, spending her days using her electric wheelchair to visit the patients in all four wings of the home.

When Diane heard of the new trend of having animals in nursing homes, she approached Ruth, the administrator. She wanted the home to adopt a kitten and train it to visit the residents.

Ruth asked the head office, and the request was granted. Ruth went to the animal shelter and brought back a white cat with blue eyes. She was a beauty. Everyone loved her as soon as they saw her. Diane named her Blessing because she would be a definite blessing to all who lived and worked there.

Blessing took on her job with gusto. She would make her rounds to all the patients, and the ones who were sick were first on her list.

After a few weeks on duty, Blessing did something unusual. She crawled onto the bed with Mr. Russo and refused to leave, putting up a fuss when the nurse grabbed her and put her out in the hall. She was back in Mr. Russo’s room and on the bed in a flash.

Finally, the nurse was able to get her out of the room, but Blessing would not leave the door. She meowed loudly, almost like a scream. The fuss was so loud that they decided to let Blessing stay with Mr. Russo.

Through the night, Blessing stayed very quiet and lay on Mr. Russo’s bed right near his chest. Mr. Russo had been ill for some time, and he passed on during the night. Only after he passed did Blessing return to her own bed.

The next day, Blessing was back on the job, visiting all the patients. Two weeks later, the fuss that had occurred in Mr. Russo’s room was repeated in the room of Mrs. Adams. We left Blessing with Mrs. Adams, wondering if she would pass, too. Sure enough, around 7 p.m., Mrs. Adams passed on. Then Blessing went to her own bed.

Nothing else occurred for several weeks, but then Blessing caused a big commotion in another lady’s room. Sure enough, the lady passed later that morning. Was Blessing aware that these people were in their final hours?

Life went on at the nursing home, and Blessing continued to predict the passing of residents. Then one day, Diane got very ill. She was sent to the hospital, and Blessing checked her room several times a day.

When Diane returned to the home, Blessing jumped on her bed after a few weeks, and the entire scenario was repeated. She stayed there for eighteen hours without moving from Diane’s side. Shortly after 4 a.m., we saw Blessing heading for her bed. When we checked on Diane, she had indeed passed away.

Blessing lived at the nursing home for twelve years, but one day we noticed a lump on her hip. She was taken to the vet and diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The vet advised that she be put to sleep to ease her pain.

We made an appointment for the next day and took Blessing home to make one more round of the patients. This time, she was carried. That night, Blessing died in her own bed, a fitting end for this beautiful cat who had dedicated her life to the patients who lived there.

Mixed candied nuts

Ingredients

  • 2 9.25 ounce containers mixed nuts lightly salted
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves unsalted
  • 1/4 cup whole almondsunsalted
  • 1/4 cup cashews unsalted
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice or your fav seasoning

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl add white sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin spice (optional) and sea salt and stir to combine.
  • In a medium-large mixing bowl combine all of the mixed nuts, walnuts, almonds and cashews, toss to combine.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together egg white, vanilla and water until it becomes foamy.
  • Add egg white mixture to mixed nuts and toss to combine, making sure to evenly coat all of the nuts.
  • Top the nuts with the sugar mixture. Stirring to evenly coat.
  • Add nuts to prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Stir nuts mixture once 10 minutes is up and then bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Repeat.
  • Stir nuts once more and bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove nut from oven and allow to completely cool.
  • Store in a large mason jars.

White chocolate sugar cookie bark

  • 2 (12 ounce) packages white chocolate chips , divided
  • 2 tablespoons Crisco shortening , divided
  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, , softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • sprinkles

Instructions

  • Line a 8 1/2 x 11 baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the white chocolate chips from 1 bag in a medium microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals on low, stirring in between. Repeat until melted and smooth. Add in 1 tablespoon of the Crisco and mix until smooth and combined.
  • With a spatula, spread white chocolate in an even layer on the parchment paper. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes until hardened.
  • In the meantime, with a handheld mixer, cream together the sugar cookie mix, butter, and milk until thoroughly combined. Place on top of the chilled white chocolate and press to spread almost to the edge. Place back in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
  • Melt the second bag of chocolate chips in the same manner as the first. Mix in the remaining tablespoon of Crisco. Spread over the cookie dough and immediately cover with sprinkles. Chill for another 10 minutes until completely set.
  • Break into small pieces and serve.