Ten year old Sammy’s mom and dad had been killed in a car wreck. He had accepted that his parents were no longer in his life. Sammy only had his grandparents and a cat name “Griddle”. Clutching Griddle, Sammy looked out the back window of his grandparents car one last time. Caring would be his new home now.
Grandpa told Sammy the story of Caring on the way there. Many, many years ago, there was a family named Caring. They had a huge 3 story house on a hill. The Caring family had hundreds of acres of ground and their house sat right in the middle. The family decided that they would rather see a town than all of that land. So, the Caring family offered each family 2 big lots where they could build a house, have a garden and some pets. The Carings ran the offer in newspapers across the state of Iowa.
The Caring family members were very friendly and well, CARING. They were happy to see people wanting to make a town. They were happy to help. But there were 2 rules that had to be followed in order to live in the new town called Caring.
One. You had to be helpful and cheerful to your neighbors. Two. You had to be good to the animals in town. The Caring family insisted on the rules being followed by everyone. Everyone agreed and the town was soon built and booming.
Sammy and Griddle liked his grandparents house. It always smelled of food cooking and lavender. Sammy took Griddle for long walks around the town. There were 527 residents of Caring. The last month or two Sammy saw “lost” and “missing” posters hung everywhere. Many had pictures of the missing animals on them. Sammy noticed that each and every one of the posters was for a missing cat! As the summer wore on, more cats were missing. Sammy continued to take Griddle on his walks, but he carried him now instead of letting him walk freely. Sammy was afraid his cat, Griddle, would become a part of the mystery of the missing cats.
By fall, ALL of cats were missing (except for Griddle). No one knew how or why. Sammy kept looking for the missing cats. He wandered close to the big Caring house on the hill. The house was very old but a grandson named Oliver Caring still lived there. Sammy saw Oliver sitting on a bench by the front gate. He and Griddle walked up to Oliver.
“Good morning young Sammy,” said Oliver as he motioned for him to sit down. “What are you and Griddle doing?”
” Hi Mr. Caring, Griddle and I are looking for the missing cats. I am so worried about Griddle,” Sammy said with a breaking voice.
“Tell me Sammy. What do you think of Caring? Do you and Griddle like it here?” asked Oliver.
“Well Mr. Caring, I like Caring, but it’s not what I expected. Grandpa told me about Caring and how it got started. Since I moved here, no one has stopped to chat or introduce me to other kids. I see the Brown’s goats have no grass or hay to eat. The Byron’s have a dog chained that never gets off and I don’t see water for him. I don’t see the 2 rules of Caring being fulfilled.” Sammy shifted Griddle on his lap and started scratching him under the chin. ” Mr. Caring, I don’t see any more cats around Caring. I’m afraid that Griddle is the last cat in town. How can I keep Griddle safe Mr. Caring?” And with that Sammy started to cry.
“Now, now Sammy,” said Oliver as he patted him on the shoulder. “You have nothing to worry about. Your cat Griddle won’t be lost or missing. I promise. Now go on home for supper Sammy.”
Sammy thanked Oliver and went home. As he neared his yard, he could hear people crying and talking loud. Everyone stared at Sammy and Griddle as they walked to the front steps. His grandparents were trying to comfort people. Mr. Smith was asking why all of the cats in town were missing except for Griddle. Grandpa had no answer. People were crying about their lost cats. Sammy held Griddle close. Griddle seemed to shiver in Sammy’s arms. Did he know he was the last cat in Caring?
Out of nowhere, a voice said, ” Griddle IS the last cat in town. Why are you here wanting help? Why are you crying over your lost cats? You haven’t talked to each other or helped each other for years! You haven’t taken care of the animals!”
They all turned to see Oliver Caring. “Caring was supposed to be a town of people who cared for each other. You have turned your back on the rules of Caring. You have turned into selfish UN-caring people. This child and his cat walk our streets daily. Who has talked to him? Sammy takes such good care of Griddle. He spends time with him daily. Sammy and Griddle have been out looking for YOUR cats. None of YOU bothered to look for the missing cats,” said Oliver as he shook his head in sadness.
“I am an old man and the last of the Caring family,” he said with a tear in his eye. “I have watched this town grow cold and uncaring. I wanted it to change back to the way it used to be.”
Oliver looked at Sammy and Griddle and smiled. Then he looked at the townspeople and said, “I have ALL of your cats. They are happy and healthy and they are all at MY house on the hill.” There was a gasp from the crowd.
“I thought that the missing cats would bring this town back together. I thought that people would help find the missing cats. I thought that people would learn to appreciate their cats and each other more.” Oliver sighed and said, ” Come, get your cats. I can’t help Caring. Caring has to help itself.” With that he walked back to his house.
The people were all ashamed. They had forgotten the rules of Caring. They vowed then and there to return Caring to the town it was supposed to be. They went to Oliver and promised him they would follow the rules forever. They thanked him for taking such good care of their cats.
Sammy was relieved to know that Griddle was NOT the last cat in town. Sammy and Griddle continued to live in Caring and the people of Caring did change. Every town should be Caring. Is yours?