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My mom and my step dad had a series of beloved cats over the years, all of which died too young due to health reasons. After the last one, Molly, died of cancer, my stepdad said no more, because he just couldn't take losing another one. So for a short time they didn't have any, then my mom got really sick herself. She struggled at home for a while, and then had to go into hospice towards the end. My stepdad was devastated, of course. They had married very late in life, and it was his first marriage. My mom was the love of his life, and he felt so lost without her.

Shortly after she went into hospice, a big orange tabby showed up on his front deck. Their house is way out in the country with few close neighbors, so this was unusual. It was a bitter Minnesota winter, and my stepdad, ever soft-hearted, but still insisting NO MORE CATS, made a shelter for him against the cold. Then of course he put out food. Then it got even colder, so inside the cat came. And once again, despite his best intentions, my stepdad had a cat.

He named the cat Goldie because of his markings and all through that winter and early spring while my mom was in hospice, Goldie was waiting when my stepdad came home from visiting her, offering purrs and snuggles and giving my stepdad someone to care for. Goldie slept with him and kept him company in the long evenings. And when my mom eventually passed, Goldie was there for my stepdad.

I know we talk about recusing cats, but really, they rescue us. I know Goldie was sent by some higher power at just the right time to give my stepdad what he needed to get through a terrible time. They're both still doing fine, keeping each other warm and a little less lonely.

Celebration, FL

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