I didn't find her. She found me.
Our family was cooking fish on the grill when, out of the blue, she walked up and smelled the fish. Her entire body was covered in weeds. There was some major gouges over her, some from other animals, some possibly not natural. Above all, we could see her bones. She had no tags, yet she walked up to us, with a face begging for help. She clearly was not afraid of people. My mom suggested that the bowl of fish guts (which we hadn't dumped out yet) be brought out to the cat, to which I did. She feasted on the bowl.
From that moment on, we trusted each other.
She would love the moments I would play with her, give her rubs. Interestingly, she was not a very curious cat. Tried the "laser pointer" thing: she'd look at it, but wouldn't chase it. Nonetheless, she was a people cat. (That is actually my cousin holding her in the photo, and that was the first time she met her). She knew the sound of our deadbolt, and would run the whole 50 yards from off the top of the back fence in a couple seconds to meet me. She tried following me to school a couple times, amusingly enough; high school was less than a block away for me.
There was one time I was outside, sitting on the back porch, when she came on my lap and curled belly-up on my lap. I decided to hold her that way, carry her around, rubbing her belly. Not only did I not know cats could purr that loud, but that was the 3rd-biggest grin I saw on her face.
One day, I was going outside to pick something out of our garage, when I saw her eating a bird she had caught, 2nd-biggest grin on her face. I could see her excitement of not only being able to catch something, but being able to show somebody she trusted what she had caught. As I walked towards her, she started to slide half the bird towards me. I rubbed the top of her head, and said, "You can have the whole thing." To that, she had the biggest grin I have ever seen on a cat, and finished eating it.
There was one time that I had to go away for a couple months for summer camp. When she saw me getting out of the car, she would have hopped into the car had I not been on the other side of where she was. Now, I did have a neighbor who provided food and shelter, so she was fine in that regard.
This cat was smart. I would have let her into our house, if not for the fact that my mom has a not-quite-major-but-not-quite-mild-either cat hair allergy. She tried sneaking into the house a couple times, but my mom would always "EAH" at her and shoo her out. One day, the back door was open, and she walked into the kitchen... to meet my mom. They made full eye contact. My mom says that not only did her face have a look of sheer disappointment on her face, but her body had a composition of defeat as it trudged outside. My mom didn't even say anything that time, just made eye contact.
I miss that cat. Hardly a day it went by I didn't see it, and then weeks, and then months, and then years I didn't see it.
It's the little moments you treasure the most.
PS: she later became the inspiration for Jarem, a character for something I'm working on.