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When I retired and came with my two cats to live with my husband and his two cats, the house bristled with fur and hissy-fits. Then a small, white-pawed tortie turned up on our lawn. Stray cats are almost unknown here, but she was clearly a stray, and desperately in search of a person—she threw herself in the way of every person who passed by. After three days, her message got to us, and we scooped her up. As we entered the living room, her eye fell on one of the cats, and her tiny body emitted a colossal shriek, turning all the others into shrieking banshees. But magically, as the days wore on, peace settled over the brood. The unanticipated fifth cat, the little one-year-old tortie, turned the others into a community. She was the peacemaker. We named her Summer because she arrived on the first day of summer. And from that day, it was Summer every day in our home. Like the other four cats, we two humans adored her. She was our white-pawed, butterscotch-marbled sunshine. Age slowly culled the other cats, but Summer was still young. Youth was no protection, though. Last autumn, she was diagnosed with large-cell lymphoma. As the weeks progressed, bitter winter slowly claimed our Summer. She left us, and our one remaining cat, last week. There will be new cats. But our love of Summer is keen and sharp and brings tears to our eyes every time we think of her. She was a gift of purest love.

Newark, DE

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