My sister in law Kate Dalton and her husband Mike, with their son Timothy 1995

1995, Me with Tamati and Kate with Timothy, dancing 
at a family do at the Pines...those babies are now strapping 23 year olds.

If I am going to write about the small things in my life then I am going to write about the huge overwhelming events.  

A few weeks ago I put up a blog - it had been months since I wrote one not since September, Usually the first person to 'like' my blogs on the facebooks was my sister in law Kate or K8, as was her online handle, David, Tamati's father's, sister. 
She'd 'thumbs up' or 'smiley face' me, and I had grown used to this gesture of support.   But the gesture didn't come and the next day Douglas, David and Kates brother phoned to tell me Kate had passed away on Saturday, 12 January after a long and intense battle with Cancer. 
I was stunned. 
I'd known she was sick, in fact I knew she'd faced cancer before, three separate times, but still, it never occurred to me that we would lose her.  

I first met Kate in 1988 although Kate and I had a connection way before that.  She went to College with my cousin Krysia and they did Drama together.  At the funeral the first picture that came up was one of her and my cousin together, in costume in a play.  We also both worked at Agriculture and Fisheries, she started there just after I left. 
I remember when Kate met Mike.  She knew he was the 'one' immediately.  I remember their first flat in Mapuia together, and how Kate and I both found out we were pregnant with Tama and Tim, who are two weeks apart, at the same time.  Which was bitter sweet as not long after I discovered I was pregnant David had a horrible accident which would change all our lives.

Kate saved Tama and I really.  When David died I fell apart, totally.  I had a breakdown of epic proportions which morphed into a manic episode where I made disastrous decisions followed by a depression that left me heavily medicated and unable to take care of myself or my children. 
Basically, for months, I could not function.  She took care of the paperwork and dealt with ACC for me.   She kept in close contact to make sure I was okay,  She was my sane connection with the world and made sure I didn't sink so low I could never come out again.  I don't know if she realised how much of a life line she was for me.
They say a lot of things about the negative effects of the internet, especially social networking, but what the internet did for us was to keep a connection through the years between our families. 
The last time I saw Kate was when she came to the airport to see meet Tamati off his plane when he returned from studying Music in NYC, USA.  She was smaller than I remembered and she had a cane but she hadn't changed at all.  She was the same funny, practical, beautiful, woman she'd always been,  Kate, like her brother David had souls that lit up the world.  They were both people of deep faith who didn't just talk the talk, they walked the walk.  They lived loving and giving lives.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - this reading from her funeral summed her up for me.
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Kate was a great reader of many, many, many books.  She always supported my writing.  She bought all my books and she edited my next book, an anthology of short stories.  Which I am going to dedicate to her, because without her I wouldn't have ever thought them good enough to be published.

I loved her, she was an amazing sister in law and I miss her.  I am just happy she is no longer suffering and she is with her whanau,  because if there was ever an entire family who are going to get into heaven it is them. 

Mike and Kate

Tomcat  :  A story I wrote for Kate and one of the stories she edited for me which are coming out in an anthology this year. 

Tomcat lumbered in through the back door.  ‘Up yours,’ he hissed to the woman standing at the sink scrubbing pots.  Humans were pathetic.  
He meowed.  Calling her a filthy name that should have gotten him a good kick up the arse, but didn’t. Instead she stopped what she was doing and wiped her hands on a tea towel, bent towards him and stroked his head. Her touch was gentle as she scratched his ears and rubbed between them murmuring endearments.  His wasn’t.  He unsheathed his claws and swiped at her forearm drawing blood.
‘Stupid bitch,’ he hissed glaring at his empty bowl. Where was dinner? This was the third night in a row he’d had to wait for his food.
Sheila jumped and whimpered.  Small, dark and rather catlike herself, she raced to the bathroom to swab the wound with disinfectant. Why? Why was he always so nasty?  

She loved Tomcat and treated him like a king. She provided a lovely warm home with many fat spongy cushions, on which he could snooze for long slumberous hours, or attend to his marathon cleaning rituals. He got a nice fresh dirt box every day. He had the best dry cat food during the week, salmon on Friday night and minced filet steak on Sunday afternoon.
She’d spent a fortune installing a cat door with a fancy magnet doo-dar, so other cats couldn’t come inside. As thanks he chewed through his collar and lost the magnet opening device four times.  
He wouldn’t use the cat door anyway; he preferred to wait at the French doors that lead out to the garden so she had to unbolt them at the top, bottom and middle, to let him in before locking up again.
She looked down at the criss-cross of scratches on her arms with tears in her eyes.  
Why was he so nasty?
Tomcat stood next to his bowl and screamed for his dinner. What was going on here? Who did he have to kill to get some grub around this place? The service in this place sucked.  
That other human would come in soon; the big male with the huge calloused paws and the giant black boots. He had to be especially quick and nimble to avoid being stood on, or kicked. He was wary of that human. He wasn’t as easy to manipulate as the female one. He was gruff and scowly, with a loud voice that rumbled so deep beneath his superior feline hearing it hurt his ears. Best to be avoided, he decided, licking his paws.

Tomcat heard the cupboard open first, then the food rain into his bowl. He stuck his nose into the mix too early and sent a few tiny pink star shaped biscuits firing all over the floor. Sheila laughed and patted him finding his antics amusing. He hissed deep in his belly wanting her to bugger off. Sheila gave him one last pat and went back to the sink.

As twilight fell in the back yard, another cat slunk slowly along the high fence and peered into the house. Her bright yellow eyes peered into the golden glow of warmth and contentment with a yearning that tore at her small hungry stomach. It had been more than an hour since she despatched that gecko, and a full day since she had eaten a whole meal without having one of the bigger wild cats stealing it from her.  

She looked like a kitten even though she was fully grown at a year old. She was small due to lack of nutrition and a recessive gene from one of her parents, whoever and wherever they were. She’d been alone for a long time and survived more by luck then any special aptitude or cleverness of her own. She spent most of the time hiding from the other much bigger and rougher cats, not to mention the packs of vicious dogs that constantly roamed the area.
But she was getting tired. Too tired for this kind of life.  

She was losing her edge. Last night was the worst of her short life. She nursed a sore ear. Torn in a fight with the ghastly cat that lived in that house. It still stung. She hoped it wouldn’t get septic and lead to the stinking green infection that killed her siblings.

He didn’t need to hurt her. He didn’t need the tiny grey mouse she caught. He only wanted it because he could take it from her. He was much bigger, almost twice her size, solid and muscular. But he also had a thick layer of fat lining his body from too much easy living. At first she dodged his clumsy punches easily, jumping this way and that. Then she too-ed when she should have fro-ed and he got her, slapping her hard across the head catching the delicate edge of her ear and ripping it brutally.

She hadn’t fought back. She escaped and ran, as fast and as far as she could, stopping only when she was completely sure he wasn’t behind her. She spent the rest of the day and most of the night beneath a dense green hedge licking her wounds.

Now she was back. Staring into his world her eyes wide with longing.  

She heard him curse at the human and claw her. Then, in disbelief, she watched as the human responded by hurrying to feed him, and trying to pet him again, to which he responded with another horrible growl.  

Albert didn’t like cats much. He didn’t dislike them either. He just didn’t really think about them that much. He knew when he met Sheila that she was potty about cats and since he was pretty much potty about her, he would indulge her anything. But this cat was a nasty little bugger and if she weren’t quite so mental about it he’d quite happily drive it somewhere far, far away and throw it out the car window.   

He rounded the corner onto his street, drove to number seventeen, stopped and backed across the road and down number fifteen’s driveway and parked his Jeep behind Sheila’s hatch back in the covered driveway. As he was climbing out of his car he noticed the dead mouse laying on the front door mat.  
His stomach turned over. He hated the dead animals Tomcat kept presenting Sheila as if they were his hunting trophies.   

Sheila assured him that if they fed him a lot, two or three times daily, Tomcat should lose his hunting instinct. Instead the great ginger puffball seemed to eat like a horse, get fatter by the minute and still leave the dead animals. Day after day dead things would greet him on his return from work.

Yuck, he really did despise that animal and his habit. Even though Sheila explained they were actually his way of giving them gifts, it still made him gag. He kicked the body into the garden with the toe of his boot, hoping he would never come across it again, a cold icky shiver travelling down his spine as he did so.

That’s when he saw the tiny black cat, or was she a kitten, he couldn’t tell, she was so small. She leapt down from the fence and swallowed the stiff little mouse body in one gulp, sucking down the tail as if it was a tendril of spaghetti. She stared up at him for a few moments with her huge incandescent yellow eyes then darted away, quick as a flash. She was gone so quickly he actually wondered if he imagined her. But no, he remembered those eyes, for some reason they reminded him of Sheila’s huge round hazel eyes that he loved so much. Warmth engulfed his heart and he felt all giddy for a moment. Golly gosh he loved his lady.

With lightness in his step and a song in his heart he burst through the front door.

Tomcat had just found the most perfect and luxurious position on his human’s large squashy settee from which he could observe all that went on in his dominion, and casually groom himself at the same time. He was sated and sleepy and for the first time that day, content. He had such a demanding existence. He didn’t know why he bothered with these loathsome humans. They were so needy, so… so revoltingly emotional. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone? All day that stupid woman expected him to be loving and affectionate. On and on she would go. Murmuring adoringly at him, trying to catch him, to pet him, no matter how much he rebuffed her attentions she just wouldn’t stop. It was too much.  
Couldn’t she tell he wasn’t interested?  
Couldn’t she tell he couldn’t stand her?  
Was she stupid, or just blind?
If the food weren’t so good he would just leave. But he wasn’t stupid; it was a cold tough world out there. He shivered. He had seen that much in the scrawny little black cat that hung around the neighbourhood. She didn’t have a family. She didn’t even have a name.
The hasty arrival of the big male human caught him by surprise and he jumped with fright and tumbled to the floor yowling. He leapt to his feet and shot between the big human’s legs, narrowly missing being kicked in the head as Albert, who received a sudden shock from the cat’s growl, lost his footing and almost fell into the fireplace. Then when he reached out blindly to try and stop his fall he swiped two of Sheila’s favourite china ornaments from the mantelpiece. They shattered on the hearth.

The sound of the crash bought Sheila skidding into the room from the kitchen as Tomcat reached the connecting door. The rest was a bit of a blur as woman, man, and cat caught in a fatal collision.

The vet shook his head sadly and his nurse fought back tears as she saw the shattered response of the woman who was being gently embraced by the big strong man in the waiting room.  
It was clearly a terrible shock for them.  
They had obviously loved that cat. It wasn’t their fault, even though she could tell they were both guilt ridden. It was just one of those appalling accidents that could have happened to anyone.   

Sheila insisted that they take Tomcat home and bury him under his favourite tree wrapped in his cuddly blanket with his clockwork mouse and squeaky toy.  

She stood at the kitchen sink for the next few weeks staring at the mound of freshly turned soil. She planted the soil with violas, crying. Her heart ached and she felt a cold emptiness in her stomach. She tried to keep herself together but it was just too much. She had always owned a pet of some kind, all of her life, cats, dogs, birds, mice and even insects when she was very, very small and desperate for something to take care of.  

Even Albert felt something akin to loss apart from the pain of having to witness his wife’s desolation. He didn’t really know why. He had never liked that animal, but there was a hole in the fabric of their lives the hairy ginger puffball had filled since their kids left home, first their son to Europe and their daughter, to a university at the other end of the country.     

Now they just had each other, and a great big silent house in which to potter about in.  

Sheila caught sight of the tiny black cat one afternoon when she was hanging out the washing. At first she didn’t know it was a cat. She saw huge yellow eyes staring passively at her from the top of the fence. She didn’t move, even when Shelia stepped closer. The bedraggled little thing just sat there with a strange pensive expression on her face.

That evening Shelia left out a bowl of minced beef and saucer of kitten milk. In the morning it was gone. So she left another and another, not really knowing if it was the little thing devouring the food. Then one afternoon she saw it cautiously make its way to the bowls at the back door. So she moved the bowls a little closer to the house, then closer until it was just inside the cat door that was now propped open by a tin of baked beans.
Now the little cat was spending more time inside, she even allowed Sheila to put a few drops of flea treatment on her and give her a wash. One day Albert came home to find the little cat curled up in a ball in front of the fire fast asleep.  

Sheila heard him come in and came through from the kitchen, ‘Hello darling, how was your day?’

‘Not bad … not bad.’  He smiled. He kissed her cheek tenderly, ‘Well it looks like that cat has made itself at home.’
Shelia smiled back happily, ‘She sure has.’

The tiny black cat pretended to sleep while she listened to her new humans mewling and gruffly mumbling. She had no idea what they were saying but it sounded very pleasant.  
They would never know that she used to leave them gifts hoping that one day she would be invited in, to lay here, in the warmth, where she was, right now.

The end...really the beginning...