Jean: The saint at the top of the stairs

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

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.

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