~~Darkness became an only cat again when Snow died. She took it in stride as with everything. We never saw her hunting for him, but then, she had watched him like a hawk as he felt his way about the house in his last days. She was about fifteen years old by then and we really didn't expect to get more cats until she had purred her last. In fact, she was starting to sleep more and more by the time she was seventeen. Cataracts, reduced hearing, and arthritis were slowing her down to a crawl. We began to talk about what we would do when she was gone from our lives. We thought we might hunt for siblings this time. A yellow tabby and a calico were on our wish list.
~~Then it all changed. Living by a church and across the street from another seemed to make us a animal rescue center. For years, we noticed that people thought that someone who went to church would have pity on a poor abandoned animal. Many dogs and cats had been dropped off in the neighborhood. We weren't in the position to care for them at all. So they either wandered off or found the wildlife to their liking. The woods in the backyard were full of squirrels, birds, rabbits, and chipmunks. It seemed that many a cat made a good living on the edges of our yard.
~~One day in the fall of 1997, we found a young female cat hanging at our door. She was striped like a tabby, but she was not all yellow or gray striped. Her legs would be both in the most interesting fashion. The vet would describe her as a calico tabby. At John's parents' house next door, there was a young yellow tabby male. They were obviously siblings with the same light green eyes and markings. We couldn't resist them, but the male had a lump on his abdomen. We were hooked and decided to keep them outside to spare Darkness the upheaval kittens would cause her very sedate life.
~~Named Sunshine and Meow, the twins had to come in when Sunshine's lump turned out to be an umbilical hernia and he needed surgery. Trying to keep the three separate was impossible. The cats decided that they were going to investigate each other and that was that. We soon realized that the kittens were just what Darkness needed. They would trot just fast enough to keep their tails in her eyesight. She would run as fast as she could, but didn't catch them. That's when we noticed that she was feeling much better. Darkness lived another four years thanks to Sunshine and Meow. They were Maine coon cats while Darkness was a small domestic short hair. She never weighed more than ten pounds in her life. The kittens would top 18 and 22 at one time and yet, Darkness was the undisputed queen of our home. Regal until the end.
~~Sadly, Darkness developed severe dementia at 21. She ceased knowing who we were and began to bite. When she latched onto my hand and refused to let go for minutes at a time, we knew she was ready. She had ceased to purr the last month until we took her in to the vet the last time. Then we were rewarded with the loving little girl we had lived with for so long. In the fall of 2001, Darkness passed into her reward. We have never forgotten her. She'll always be the queen.