The Spanish cat lady

There are a few cats near to where we are staying in Luarca, mainly scrawny looking bags of bones. They are fed each day by our neighbour, an elderly lady with a warm smile. She puts out cat biscuits and milk for them, with the occasional leftovers.
One particularly scrawny cat has had two kittens recently. Both white, with piercing blue eyes, just like their mother. We passed as one was feeding from her. The kitten carried on, intent on its task. The mother fixed us with a cold stare, the second kitten lay nearby, waiting its turn.
Yesterday morning, returning from the village, we saw the corpse of one kitten, sprawled on the path. Flies darted round its lifeless eyes and mouth. In this heat, with their attention, it would not be long before life returned to the body.
Later in the day I saw the old lady, feed box in hand, go looking for the cats. In my best schoolboy Spanish I told her that one kitten lay dead. Well I think that’s what I told her, anyway, she got my drift.
She fed mother and remaining kitten.
Slowly she walked to were the dead youngster lay. Stopping, she genuflected. Knelt down by the still creature and brought her hands together in prayer. She said a few soft words, gently stroked its head and stood up. Gently reaching down she picked up its stiff body and walked slowly up the path.
After a few paces she looked down at the kitten and shrugged. Then without breaking stride she tossed the dead animal over a wall into the garden of a derelict house.
She smiled as she passed me, said thank you and carried on feeding the remaining cats.
Life goes on in Asturias.

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