Jean: The saint at the top of the stairs
No one could ever catch him. But then again, he didn’t really want to be caught. Each morning he’d stay in the bushes, looking up the stairs to where his morning meal would come… waiting. And sure enough, at about the same time every morning, she’d open the door and thoughtfully place the dish of cat food in the little hut she’d built and left on her porch. Not until the door was shut and he was sure she was gone, would he stealthily, yet swiftly slink up the long staircase for his meal. Jean would often sneak a peak at him out her window, but she was always careful not to scare the poor stray she lovingly called Junior, because he was the smallest of the furry vagabonds she cared for.
Jean wasn’t a wealthy woman, to say the least. She lived off a small fixed income, but her bills were met and her cupboards always held sufficient supplies. With what little she had left over she managed to use spreading goodwill and love each holiday with gifts to her family and close friends — never forgetting a birthday — and always making sure her grocery cart had some extra cat food for her many feral dependants. It might sound like an easy thing to do, but with six cats of her own, and one of them on thyroid medication, Jean’s budget for animal care was certainly higher than average. None of her animal friends, however, would ever be without food or medicine on her watch. She’d go without herself first.
It was just a few weeks ago, as Junior laid waiting on one of those very few extra cold mornings we’ve had this winter, that his breakfast was not served. The curtain in the window didn’t get carefully brushed aside for a peak, nor did the door carefully open with that kindly human to emerge. He had no idea that his saint at the top of the stairs had taken ill and was in hospital. Nor did he know that she would not be returning to fill his dish. Jean never left the hospital. Sadly, she has gone before us, crossing that rainbow bridge to be with her family and furry friends who had gone before her.
Junior, and the other feral cats of his neighbourhood, although they never allowed Jean to get too close, will surely miss her. As will her own feline family. Jean’s daughter will continue to care for all of them, as she promised her mother she would, but like all of us who knew Jean, they’ll miss that special something that Jean possessed. It was a warmth perhaps, something created by her deep sense of empathy, a warmth stray cats felt on cold mornings as they’d wait in hiding, watching for movement at the window and door. After many years of caring for Jean’s cats, I’ll miss her too, much more so as my friend than as a client.
Goodbye, Jean. You never did get that animal sanctuary you wanted to build with your dreamed of lottery winnings, but I bet you have a special place in Heaven.
Thanks for reading. Adopt, neuter and spay, save a life every day.