In the first home we bought here in Raleigh, our back door neighbors had a garden. We had one too, and we used to share produce: they gave me corn, beans and beets and I supplied tomatoes, cukes and squash. It was a perfect arrangement, and while we were never bosom-buddies - in that we didn't visit in each other's homes - we all talked often over the back fence.
Their two daughters were older than my children and the younger one used to babysit our three. They were a lovely family. Sometime in the late 70's they got a beautiful white Persian kitten for their younger daughter. They never let him in the house (due to shedding and claw marks); he lived in the boat in their carport. He didn't like the lack of attention from the family. As the daughter entered high school and got busier with after-school activities, the cat suffered for companionship. He started coming to our yard, where our kids played often, and he would dash into our house whenever the door opened and go straight to our cat's food, which he apparently liked better than what he was given at home. I always put him back outside immediately, but after so many times of having him come frantically into the house for food, I stopped putting him out. But he would go out every evening around 5 pm and head back to his home.
Snowball was solid white, and prone to roll in the red clay that was in the edges of our yard. I found him lying on our redwood picnic table one day, and it was hard to tell where he stopped and the table started - they were nearly the same color. I sat down and had a talk with him. I told him that he was loved and since he was, he needed to take better care of his fur. I asked him to groom himself everyday. And I could hardly believe it, but after that time, we hardly ever saw him dirty. Like magic, he began to bathe himself often.
He loved being in our house, where he could always have affection. Eventually he stayed with us most of the time. One day I got a call from Marie (the mom), asking me to come to the back fence. When I did, she handed Snowball to me with a "Proclamation" that he was now MY cat and they would no longer put food out for him. I hadn't meant to steal him away, but I couldn't stand to see such a beautiful cat neglected. He lived to be 14 and was a wonderful pet the whole time.
Marie died a few days ago. She was a lovely woman whom I had only seen once since 1982, when we moved from that neighborhood. It was nice to see her girls today, and once again I thought how sad it is that we let time slip away and don't keep up with old friends and neighbors. We always think we have time - but we may not.
Another friend passed this week. Lois was the mother of my younger daughter's best friend, and we had become acquainted over the years; first as a floral and decor client and then bonded by our daughters friendship and close ties. I mentioned her here recently; saying she was a woman whom I had always admired and wanted to get to know better. But she was away at the beach often and I was busy with my business, so it was hard to find a time suitable to us both. When we did get together, she never failed to make me laugh. Her wit and intelligence often combined to bring about huge belly laughs and you truly never knew what would come out of her mouth. I was pleased to be invited to her 75th birthday party a few years ago; which was held at a local city club and featured about 100 of her closest friends. Many of them stood to regale the crowd with stories about the guest of honor; all of them funny, some were astounding and some were poignant. I count myself lucky to have known her and to have been included in her birthday party and their 50th anniversary party a few years ago.
Lois, I'm sorry I didn't get to know you much better, and I know that Heaven is a funnier place now that you are there.