Over the years I have come across some very special people, among them Maria Arstikys, who is in the upper echelon. She has now moved on.

In her senior years she had various ailments as most seniors do. She met them head-on and her favorite recovery medicine was to walk her North Riverside neighborhood on almost a daily basis.

Doing this, she made many friends with her smile and outgoing personality. She also made a point to stop and visit with all the dogs and pets en route, usually through a fence. She made many friends with them all and added small treats for fun.

Yet, Maria was different in a very special way. Her aura of goodness, caring and love was easily picked up by her caring animal friends. We have three dogs that bark at every stranger (as they should) that walked by our house – except Maria, not even the first time, when she got acquainted and then offered a treat. No barking ever.

Often they would be racing around the yard, barking and playing, and suddenly they would stop and go wait by the fence, tails wagging.

At first, I couldn’t understand this, since they stood by the fence for a good three to five minutes. Maria was three to five blocks down, coming their way. They sensed her aura and couldn’t wait to greet her.

Her little treats were great, but the dogs could sense the goodness in her heart and soul – as most animals know more about life than we do.

As usual, they were 100-percent accurate. Maria we all love and miss you.

Jim Zak

North Riverside