In Memoriam: Susan Gardiner, July 1, 2008
by Jann Flanagan
Susan Gardiner It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that a beloved and faithful friend of FieldHaven Rescue left this life on earth to reunite with her furry friends at Rainbow Bridge. Susan Gardiner will be greatly missed by her son Tom, friends, and family of her four kitties: Casey, Greta, Mikey, and Paisley.

Susan was a brave, poised lady who faced life head-on with independence and faith. Susan's attitude remained positive and upbeat throughout her three plus years of battling cancer. When Susan was informed that she had "months, not years to live" by her oncologist after being diagnosed with terminal cancer over three years ago, she picked up her chin, a look of anger and resolve appeared in her eyes, and she said, "No way, I'm not ready to die". She sought out an oncologist who supported her determination to "beat this cancer", and together fought they did. Susan's journey was not easy, in fact, she suffered many adversities along the way; but each time, she dug her heels in deeper, exhibiting an inner strength that was remarkable. She was always appreciative of visits and phone calls, interested in what was going on in your life. When she was asked what anyone could do, her usual answer was, "Nothing, I'm fine," accompanied by a gentle smile. Susan was always dressed fashionably, a very beautiful woman. Her taste in clothes was impeccable, looking like she stepped out of a fashion show.
The three loves of her life were her son Tom, her beautiful gardens, and animals. Susan had many pets throughout her life. Her favorite dog was the Eskimo Spitz; her last rescue was rehomed after she was unable to care for him during her cancer treatments. Left with her four beloved kitties, they became the center of her life, admittedly, her strength and companionship. She often stated, "I don't know what I would do without them, I couldn't make it without them." They entertained her, and were always at her side. Her very favorite (they were all her favorites) was Casey who she adopted from FieldHaven as a shy, quite unadoptable kitty. While volunteering at FieldHaven, she literally spent hours winning Casey over, until he succumbed to her love, and they formed a bond that could not be broken. Susan accounted how he would spend hours "cleaning" her when she was not feeling well. Casey spent most of his time on Susan's bed, usually laying on top of her during her last few weeks, and remained at her side yesterday as she left this world. Paisley was also a very shy kitten at FieldHaven that she worked with until she won her over. Paisley slipped out the door a few weeks ago while equipment was being moved in for Susan's return home from the hospital. She remained elusive for five weeks, untrappable until last weekend, when ironically, she stepped into the trap and was reunited with her family. Mikey and Greta rounded out Susan's feline family, and had joined her prior to volunteering at FieldHaven.

Susan remained an active volunteer at FieldHaven until recently. As well as participating in many activities and outreach events, she was a proud member of Thursday night cat trailer cat care team. It was wonderful to hear her and Bruce laughing and talking as they went about their duties, caring for all the resident cats. She would also come over during the week to love on and brush the kitties. Her quiet and gentle manner was soothing, especially to the shy kitties, which was her specialty, as was evidenced by her adopting two of our very shy cats. She remained active even when she was unable to travel. She faithfully posted ads of kitties that had been at the sanctuary for longer period of time in the Penny Saver until very recently. Many kitties were adopted because of her advertising in the free circular.

There were two things that were of paramount importance to Susan. The first was that she would be with her kitties until the very end. Tom arranged for a home caregiver so that her wish could be fulfilled; her caregiver and a friend that were with her to the end of her life here on earth, stated that she passed peacefully, which I am sure was mostly because she was surrounded by the love of her four felines. The second thing was the care of her kitties after she was gone. She arranged for her feline family to come to our sanctuary. They have arrived, and as any family displaced, it is a very difficult time for them. It would be a tribute to this wonderful brave lady to show an outpouring of love and support for her babies. They need lots of attention and gentle petting to ease their anxiety over leaving their home and Mom. I know that Susan will be at peace, adorned with her lovely smile when all are place in forever homes.

In the weeks ahead we will be planning a celebration of Susan Gardiner's life. We have been blessed that God place this lady in our midst. God speed, while you rest in eternal peace, Susan...

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