Sheryl Endres has one constant in her life.
While Endres has lived with chronic back pain, exhaustion from a sleep disorder, asthma and depression, her cat Nermal has always been there.
"[Nermal] has seen me through a lot in the last decade," said the 57-yearold Victoria woman, a regular volunteer for the Action Committee for People with Disabilities and frequent visitor at Our Place. "He's a real 'purr-puss.' "
This year, the Times Colonist Christmas Fund will help Endres with the holiday groceries: maybe a box of chocolates for her and a small treat - such as some cooked chicken from the grocer - for Nermal.
"I will make sure there are no bones in it, but he enjoys a little chicken," said Endres.
Endres was born and raised in B.C. the oldest of five children. She spent the first part of her life in the Cariboo before moving to Denman Island, and later the Comox Valley and Black Creek.
In the past, she has picked cherries in the Okanagan and raspberries in Abbotsford, and worked in a seniors' home. She was married for a time, but the marriage ended. She has no children.
She now lives alone on a disability pension of $900 a month, with about $600 of that going to rent.
But her life isn't empty.
There are the days when she makes it around to the Action Committee for People with Disabilities to help out. There are the times she can stroll around to Our Place, where she visits and does her embroidery. There are the times she rests at home and chats with the neighbour, "a real sweetie."
And always, there is Nermal. "I absolutely dote on my cat."
He's not any special breed, just "a common garden-variety mog, a moggie" whose colouring makes him look like he's wearing a cape, with freckles on his nose.
But the years are starting to tell on Nermal. At 12, his teeth aren't in great shape and he is now recovering from a sore in his mouth, although an antibiotic appears to be working well.
"He just makes me feel better," said Endres. "He'll get up on my bed and lay on top of me if I'm sleeping to wake me up and feed him."
The Times Colonist Christmas Fund and its predecessors have been helping people in need better enjoy the holidays since 1956.
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