Margery Coffey
Feeding
Oil, Collage
18" x 30"
1986

This is a portrait of my late aunt, Faith Kemper, during her last years at home, as she made her way to the back porch for the evening feeding.  Her "shelton stroller" style dress was covered with an heirloom prairie apron.  Once the housedress had fit her, but the twist of osteoporosis was so severe that none of her clothes fit her and her slip would always show somewhere.  Her legs were wrapped in ace bandages to help her varicose vein problems.  Once practical slippers were worn down to loose fitting pads having long lost any semblance of their original shape or color.

Faith loved cats and felt particularly sorry for all the strays that were thrown out on their own in her small, rural-Nebraska, home town.  So she fed them on her back porch and they came from everywhere and in all colors.  This one, part-Siamese, was a regular.  Faith did not regard the cats as her pets and flatly denied ever owning a cat.  Only a few of the porch cats were ever allowed house privileges.  These few grew in number as Faith's eyesight diminished.

Of course, cats were not the only visitors to Faith's back porch.  She fed possums and skunks and who-knows-what-else with her generous food dish, but it was the cats that led her to share with the animal world.  It was not much, and strictly a first come, first served basis, but none-the-less, for over forty years, it was a small place where hunger could be dealt with directly, no questions asked.

 


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