Twila’s Haven

It’s not much, some bushes, shrubs and indiscriminately placed annuals. In several areas, the mulch is thinned to bare ground. But in inclement and colder weather, the plant beds around our house are a haven for neighborhood cats.

Shortly after moving in nearly five years ago, I noticed the felines and got annoyed. Who owns these animals and why are they constantly roaming our yard? Of the 6-8 that became familiar, it was the small black cat with sweet, gentle eyes that made our front beds her second home. We found out which neighbors fed these outside dwellers, and they shared that this black fur ball was the mother of the gray, tail-less scruffy one… but we didn’t ever know her name.

Over the years, we called her “Blackie” within our household, and grew fond of her playfulness. Our Yorkie Lacey struggled socially with other dogs, but got along with Blackie, it was strange to me. When we lost, Lacey just before Christmas in 2015, Blackie seemed confused at first, but animals tend to forget (and forgive) in short order.

When we adopted Rocky (Australian Shepherd), it quickly became evident he too is socially awkward with other animals. He’s not mean, but we believe he was never trained and struggles when leashed. Inside, he might chase our indoor cat, but they get along, and he’s fine with other dogs, so long as he’s not on a leash. So it always pained me when we’d go for a walk and I’d have to pull Rocky back from chasing Blackie. I wanted him to like her, just like Lacey did.

Just a couple of days ago I commented to Karen that Blackie didn’t seem right, and she was spending all day nestled between a couple of bushes in a mulch bed she’d made for herself.

Yesterday, as I was working in the yard, Blackie got up from her bed, shook herself of debris, looked back at me and sauntered across the street to where she lives.

Today, we found out Blackie’s name, Twila. Her caregivers had posted to FB that they’d not seen her in a couple of days. Karen responded that she’s usually in our beds or around back hunting rodents or sunning herself on one of the decks. When we found out Twila passed in her sleep last night I was stopped in my tracks, heartbroken.

As I take time to grieve losing our neighborhood friend, I have to wonder why it’s affecting me so. She wasn’t ours, yet part of our life. Maybe it was her gentle spirit, or how she rolled on her back at our front steps for a belly rub, or how she looked at me that one last time as if to say, thanks and goodbye as she made her way home one last time.

RIP, Twila… our flower beds will ever be your haven.


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