Sassy lives on my porch. From time to time, when the front door is opened, she'll run through the house to the back door, a short cut. This week she brought me a headless rat and dropped it in front of the sliding glass door to the back deck.
Sassy came into our lives when George and I decided to live apart. George thought he needed a cat, so that Abbey and Jake would want to be with him. He sent me to the SPCA and we picked the scrawny, feisty gray and black striped alley cat. During Sassy's life at George's condo, she lived in the laundry closet. When not confined to her cage, Jake tortured her, chasing her, holding her by her tail. Sassy clawed her way to freedom and ran to her hiding place behind the drier.
When George moved back in with us, he needed to bring Sassy. First we tried to keep her in Abbey's room. My asthma suffocates me and turns my eyes into glassy razor blades. She must live on the porch by the lake. The dark, cold January air caused Sassy to take refuge elsewhere and for nearly 4 months we didn't see her. With death hovering in our lives, the loss of the cat seemed symbolic.
Two months after George's death, a woman from Lake Frances Drive called my sister Kim in the upstate.
"Are you missing a scrawny, gray and black cat?" the woman questioned?
"No, I don't have a cat." Kim confidently replied.
"Well, I live on Lake Frances Drive and I've been caring for this stray cat." she continued. "I took her to the vet, and she has a microchip with your information as the emergency contact."
"Hmmm," Kim wonders, "I think that's the street my sister Melissa lives on. I'll call her," says she.
That George would put Kim's name, rather than mine, as the emergency contact on Sassy's tag makes sense only that if they called me, I might say, I don't know anything about a cat.
I feel a mixed sense of relief, confusion, and annoyance with the news of Sassy's resurrection. Abbey and Jake celebrate the news, and I send them down to the neighbor to retrieve the seventh of Sassy's lives.
I wonder though; "how long will she stay? We offer her nothing but an occasionally filled bowl of food and some water on the back porch."
She stays, having learned the neighborhood, she supplements her feedings with small rodents, birds and human sympathy.
We leave the lake and move to the island. Life dramatically changes again for Sassy. This time, she gets a balcony, fifteen feet from the ground. She needs to use trees and propane tanks to get to her food bowls. She spits up worms on the front porch, wages war on predators in the night, leaves hairballs filled with raw animal guts and blood by my patio furniture, tortures lizards and dragonflies only until she kills them, whines if it rains until Abbey sneaks her in the garage or in her bedroom, and reminds me of George.
Sassy brought me the headless rat to show me she was doing her job keeping snakes, mice and lizards out of our home. I didn't refill her bowls for two days. John finally came and removed the rotting rodent.