The heartwarming story of a working-class single mother, her autistic son and the stray cat who brought them together as a family.
Pet rescuer Romp was 22 and unmarried when she gave birth to her son, George. She knew he was different from the outset—restless and always screaming, he “seemed almost tormented by life.” Feeling bewildered by her son's bizarre anti-social behaviors and guilty that she couldn't give him a two-parent home, Romp became even more exasperated by the assurances others gave her that George would eventually adjust. It wasn't until her son was 10, however, that the school psychologists confirmed that George was not only autistic, but also had “ADHD and paranoid tendencies.” The diagnosis allowed him to get the help he needed, but doctors warned Romp that George would never be a “cuddly boy.” Salvation for both mother and son came shortly thereafter in the form of a “thin and sickly” stray cat named Ben. Although George had never been able to bond with other animals, he formed an intense relationship with Ben. Almost immediately, George began speaking to it in a gentle voice, which gave Romp a glimpse of her son’s unseen emotional depths. The cat became Romp's key to accessing the closeness she desired with her son, which she achieved by joining him in the narrative world he built around Ben. But when their beloved pet suddenly went missing, her relationship with George was tested. Fortunately, she found the cat a few days before Christmas. More importantly, though, she discovered that while her family of three wasn't the most conventional, it “didn't make it any less of one.”
Sensitive without being overly sentimental.