Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spring, #Felines And A Special Neighbor--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith


My husband mowed the grass this week--one of the first rituals of spring. The hum of the mower set off nostalgic memories of rescued felines and a very special neighbor.

Miss Agnes lived across the street from us for twenty-five years. She lived alone all of her life and her gardens were her pride and joy. She was in her gardens from morning until evening and often observed the neighborhood wildlife from groundhogs to deer passing through her yard and into ours. I spoke to Agnes on the phone every couple of days and she would always fill me in on her latest sightings. Often our conversations would turn to the cats she had seen frolicking in her yard (or just passing through).

When I told her about the stray cat who walked across our patio one day and right up to my husband who was filling an outside feeder, she knew exactly which cat I was talking about. Lancelot, as we named him, had obviously been in many a fight and wore the battle scars to prove it. Agnes related how she had had a similar encounter with Lance after one of his scuffles. She said he was badly injured but she stood and talked with him. Lance became a constant buddy with my husband and followed him around whenever he was outside. Eventually, we were able to cage him, but his visit to the emergency veterinary hospital was not a good one. He tested FIV positive and eventually developed urinary problems that he couldn't overcome. In his short time with us, he touched our lives deeply and Agnes understood how attached we were and shared our sadness when Lance crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Agnes was also a part of our Sunnybud saga. Sunny was another stray who had been visiting the patio feeders while we were dealing with Lance. I always tried to feed him apart from Lance.  After Lance was gone, Sunnybud and I developed a special relationship. He came daily to be fed and eventually he let me pet him and massage him. But he always left again, unwilling to give up his freedom to become part of our feline household. Agnes always filled me in when she saw Sunny in her yard and in which direction he was heading. Together we were trying to solve the mystery of where he went after the daily feeding and petting sessions. Sunnybud started limping and his foot became infected. Again, another trip to the emergency veterinarian ended in an FIV diagnosis and a severe infection that because of the FIV wouldn't heal. The decision to let Sunnybud go was heart wrenching and again Agnes understood.

Even as Agnes's health began to decline and her time outside was limited, she would report what she
saw out her kitchen window. One day after a fall kept her from moving around the house, she told my husband that the aide who was helping her had seen a little brown kitten in our driveway. Little did we know that that sighting would be the beginning of of relationship with Bonnie and Clyde. Eventually Agnes couldn't spend a lot of time at her kitchen window to report her sightings, but we kept her informed by taking snapshots of the duo and sharing them with her. Our last Christmas present for Agnes was a calendar featuring our feline family which she kept on her kitchen desk and hopefully brought her a smile at times when she was dealing with her declining health.

Agnes is no longer with us, and I sadly miss our phone conversations and her concern for the felines that she knew were special to us. The hum of the mower reminded me of a conversation my husband had with Agnes shortly after we moved into the neighborhood. He was feeling guilty about the number of dandelions that were popping up on our lawn and was worried that they would spread to the neighbors' yard.  Agnes looked across the street to our yard and answered, "Yes, but aren't they beautiful?" He has never looked at dandelions the same way again. Sometimes a simple little bit of wisdom can make a huge impact. Agnes didn't see the scarred face of Lance, but instead appreciated the kind heart that was beating inside of him. She never chased Sunnybud from her yard, but always allowed him the freedom to roam that he so cherished. She told us about Bonnie in our driveway because she knew that we would watch over her. She saw the beauty in the world around her--in her flowers (and weeds) and in the wildlife that complemented her gardens. She taught us in her simple conversations how to do the same.  We miss you Agnes.  



Wendy Newcomb, director of the Kismet women's shelter Sunrise Tomorrow, is thrilled when the shelter receives a legacy.  She hires Caprice to decorate the mansion to serve women who need more than an overnight port in a storm. But in her drive against domestic violence, Wendy has made enemies and is murdered. Caprice finds herself in danger once more as she asks questions and even calls on St. Anthony for inspiration to solve this murder mystery.
(Sunnybud is the resident cat in the mystery.)

SHADES OF WRATH on Barnes and Noble


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 97th novel will be released in 2017.
Karen and Paddy

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

©2017 Karen Rose Smith



lkleback said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing.

Deborah Blake said...

Everyone should have an Agnes. She sounds like one in a million.

Sandy Swanger Bartles said...

Thank you for sharing with us some of the wonderful times you shared with Agnes. You have mentioned her often on Facebook and I know how much you loved her. (((Hugs)))