|Marilyn Williams with her canine crew: Oreo (back), Happy and Austin (left).|
In the dark, running late, and wound tighter than a ball of yarn, Marilyn Williams rushes into my house with another delivery of Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter calendars.
“Sara, it’s just one of those days when everything that could go wrong – I was at the vet all afternoon with my new rescue dog because he couldn’t pee and I’m supposed to meet Eleanor for supper at 5:30 in Springhill.”
We both look at the clock on the stove: It reads 5:26.
“And I have a feral cat that I picked up at the vet bawling in my car because I have to drop him at his new home in Springhill,” Marilyn adds.
She may be leaning against my wall in a pose of exhaustion but this is Marilyn Williams at her best: Friend to all, especially those in need. After the death of her son in 1997, Marilyn retired from teaching and found herself drawn to volunteer work that allowed her to care for others, including starting a spay and neuter program for feral and stray cats.
“I have a very busy life,” says Marilyn a few weeks later when we sit down in her cozy cottage near Heather Beach for a conversation. “I never know when I’ll be going with a trap and I’m at the shelter as much as I can be. I still volunteer with palliative care for sitting through the night. When I don’t have to be somewhere, I’m thankful to be here.”
She calls her cottage her sanctuary, adding that she loves being alone, although by alone she means with her furry crew of three dogs and six cats (plus the occasional feral cat in the laundry room).
“My life has changed a lot since I moved here six years ago,” she says. “My life is very simple. I can’t tell you the last time I went into a store and bought something. Everything I get comes from a thrift shop. The less I spend on myself, the more I can give to charities.”
It doesn’t take Marilyn a moment to come up with her Christmas wishes:
1) For every animal to be tucked in and warm on a winter night. “I lose sleep thinking of the stray and feral cats trying to survive in the freezing cold. I look at these pets around me. They’re all rescues and I want this for every animal.”
2) Homes for the ‘long timers’ at the shelter. “Most of them have come from homes, they know love, they know what it’s like. If Bear and Taz could find a home for Christmas…Those are the two black cats, the brothers.”
3) For people to take responsibility for their animals. “Don’t get them when they’re cute then biff them when they’re older. Don’t take a puppy and not train it, then bring him in to surrender him because he’s ripping everything up, nipping at the kids and peeing on the floor.”
4) For more money for spaying and neutering. “I’d love to get more ferals done.”
5) “I would like people to be grateful for what they have.”
One of the dogs crawls onto Marilyn’s lap and she hugs him tight. His name is Happy so now I know what a Happy Christmas looks like.
You can find both the Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter and Marilyn & Friends Spay/Neuter Fund (@spayCats) on Facebook.