KathyWhat can you say about an ex-wife? That she was gorgeous, that she was kind and generous? That she went stark raving mad and ended up homeless and living on the streets?

I hadn’t seen her in years, only two or three times since we divorced 25 years ago, when a stranger’s voice over the telephone asked, “Do you know a Kathy Sasser?”

Kathy was tiny, blond and blue-eyed. A vivacious personality that turned the heads of every man in a room. Women, kids, old people and dogs adored her. Then, suddenly, one summer she abruptly tossed aside friends and family and divorced me.

She married again, briefly, and was in and out of jail and institutions diagnosed with paranoia and schizophrenia. Even the people closest to her were afraid of her, what she might do in the middle of some night with a butcher knife. Her transformation had been that complete.

And now a stranger’s voice over the telephone from the Department of Human Services was asking if I knew her.

“Yours was the only name we had,” the stranger said. “We didn’t know anyone else to call.”

Somehow, Kathy had ended up in Los Angeles homeless and living on the streets in rags, eating in missions, shelters, the Salvation Army and out of garbage cans. Afraid of everything and everyone, confiding in no one, shambling about the streets sleeping with men for a few bucks, reportedly hooked on drugs, nowhere to go. Our son Joshua, who had tried to help her many times over the years, didn’t know what happened to her after she disappeared.

And now, said the voice on the phone, her body had been found in a Los Angeles alley, huddled up all alone among the trash and the rats and stray dogs. She had died two months previously and the coroner didn’t know what to do with the body until he could find a next-of-kin. My name seemed to have been the only one she ever mentioned to any relief workers.

One thing though: she left me our son Joshua, one of the best human beings on this planet who is now studying to become a Christian minister. Kathy could not have left a better legacy.

Colonists to the stars from Planet Earth return to discover Earth has become literally a Hell. SciFi by Charles W. Sasser, Sanctuary is now available in paperback from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, in selected bookstores, and soon to appear on the Kindle.