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It seems long ago that I last held Emily. She came to us as a kitten and was a member of our family for many years.

She was meant to be a house cat, but she had different plans. She would slip between legs to escape through an open door and was determined to have our neighborhood be her habitat. Often her escapes coincided with my deadlines, like getting to work, leaving me lying on the driveway extricating her from under my car.

After way too many extrications, I decided we needed to have “the talk”.

On a day when I had no plans, I walked toward the door. She innocently followed, pretending to be unaware of her potential escape attempt. I put my hand on the doorknob and waited. She was good. Eventually, she looked up at me, questioning my inaction. I began my lecture.

I pointed, literally pointed, out the dangers of the great outdoors, “There are speeding cars in the front yard and dogs in the adjoining yards. You have to keep your eyes open and your wits about you. I cannot keep you safe if you decide to go outside.”

We made eye-contact. I pointed a steady finger at her, daring her to disregard my warnings, and opened the door.

She looked deeply at me, questioning my intent. She eyed the open door and made a decision. She bolted before I could change my mind.

Emily lived to a ripe old age, surviving cars, dogs, and a raccoon attack. She learned to catch mice, which she selfishly kept to herself.

She loved having her coat brushed on the deck. I would tap the brush on the wood and call, “Come on, Emily. Want a brush?” She would race from her hideouts to the step, stretching and pushing against the brush to make sure not an inch was missed.

If I needed her inside, I would tap and call. She always came running and always got a good brushing.

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When she died, I buried her deep in the back corner of my, oops... her yard.

This fall I hired some garden help. I needed to transplant a large nandina and he suggested the back corner. I agreed, it was perfect.

Before digging, I warned that he might find cat bones. Sure enough. He calmly bent down and put each dirt-stained bone into my hands. I shed tears, loving to be holding her again.

When the hole was ready for the nandina, I gently replaced the bones.

These days I think of her whenever I look at the nandina. I am sure she enjoys the lovely upgrade to the cozy corner of her yard.

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Dianne Roth is a mother, grandmother, teacher, and freelance writer. She can be reached at: