This is a short piece in response to Sadje’s WDYS post for March 14, 2022.
The barn had not changed much since she first walked down that path 20 years ago. She knew it would be the perfect place to house her animal rescues and keep them safe. There always seemed to be homes for cats and dogs, but farm animals and horses were subjects of mankind’s inhumanity, too, and they needed a safe place to recover.
Just beyond the barn was the cemetery where she first buried an old mare she named Faith. That old mare had been beaten and was malnourished. Bringing her home had allowed her to heal and Sara did some of her own healing along the way. It did not take long to realize Faith would live out her life here.
As the years ticked by, Sara took in fewer and fewer animals. Money wasn’t the problem. It was her body. Aging has a way of reminding us of our limitations and Sara had more than a few.
The family had stopped coming to visit years ago. Most of the younger generation moved away to chase their own dreams. She had always hoped her children would show an interest in the animals, but electronics seemed to take the place of physical connections – animal and human. Of course this was not how Sara hoped it would be, but she managed to come to terms with reality. Even the Mother’s Day cards did not arrive any more.
Today she graduated from crutches to a walker. She was fortunate the hay cushioned her fall from the loft, but any break was dangerous at her age. Her neighbor, Sam, stepped in to care for the three remaining animals while Sara got her strength back. He also cleared the snow to make the trip from the cabin to the barn easier for her.
“The pony is only lying down a couple of hours a day now.” Sam called out as she approached. The pony’s injuries were not severe but the recovery was slow nonetheless. The amount of time he was down had worried Sara.
“That does my heart good, Sam. I cannot thank you enough. These animals need a connection.”
“There’s an unlikely one.” Sam turned his head toward the open barn suggesting Sara look inside.
Muddy, the old brown cat with the splotched fur, was curled up on the hay near the pony.
“Looks like you’re right”. Sara smiled at the unlikely friendship developing between the two animals.
“We all need a friend and someone to help us through the tough times.” Sam took breath before he spoke again. “Now don’t get mad, but I called Billy”.
Sara responded with a glare. “Damnit, Sam.”
“I know. He said he just couldn’t take off work to come and help.”
“Of course not.” The conversation was exhausting her. She wasn’t angry at Sam, she just did not want to feel disappointed with her son again. The air between them fell silent.
A car horn broke the silence. Sara turned to see a mass of brown hair emerge from the yellow VW Beetle now parked in her driveway.
“Grandma!” Sara watched through tear filled eyes as her granddaughter ran toward her.
“Isn’t it great? Dad said I could spend the rest of my gap year with you, helping with the anImals!” The young girl wrapped her arms around Sara’s neck, kissed her cheek and then headed toward the barn. “I hear you have a pony that needs some TLC!”
Sara glanced at Sam, a sheepish grin on his face. “Okay. I forgive you, Sam.” Her heart was full.
Sam chuckled as Sara made her way toward the barn to see the pony, Muddy the cat, and her granddaughter cuddled up together on the hay.