Oliver-Henry (missing since July 26, 2009) Majik (adopted through Toronto Cat Rescue, December 30, 2009) Oscar (my mom's cat, who often visits, brought to me as a stray kitten in August, 1995)
The neighbour's cat. I call him Sylvester. Isn't his goatee great? The neighbour's other cat. I call him Tweety. He is a polydactyl, with extra toes.
So it has been 366 days since Oliver-Henry disappeared from my mom's backyard in Kitchener, Ontario, during a light rainfall, after slipping out of her back door. As many of you know, I searched for him desperately, and grieved his loss powerfully. But little by little, I've had to let go. Among the things I tried:
- Kijiji, Craigslist, and other internet classified ads - begging for his return on Facebook, on my website, and on television when I appeared on What's Your Point? in December - a Google alert that searched the internet every day for blogs and other postings for "found cats", and then sent that information to my inbox. I can now say, after a year of reading the results, that Michigan and Las Vegas sure have a lot of homelss kitties! - hand delivering 1000 flyers to homes in my mom's neighbourhood - asking employees of two of Kitchener's biggest employers (RIM and Manulife) to watch for him - using regular mail to send colour posters and descriptions to every veterinarian's office in Kitchener-Waterloo - enlisting the help of the local KW cat rescue organizations - having my mom visit the Humane Society every other day for six months (after three days in the HS, the pound act says they can be put down or adopted out, so you have to check frequently. I hadn't been aware of this before). - writing to several local churches, asking them to post his info in their bulletins-- offering author readings and rewards to nearby schools if they would share his description with their students - maintaining a list of rescue organizations both in and outside KW and checking it regularly for updates
Despite all of my efforts, I did not find him. And that pisses me off! But I do feel that I made every reasonable effort, so although I will probably still be unable to stop myself from popping into Kijiji every once in a while, today I cancelled the Google alerts.
And it wasn't in vain. I do feel that I tried (no more goldfish-type dreams over this loss). I reunited a few other cats with their families, just by cross-referncing "lost cat" ads in one place with "found cat" ads in others. And also by searching someone out on Facebook. I experienced small-world coincidences, such as when I was contacted with a possible lead by author Marianne Paul, who I had never met, but who lives in my mom's neighbourhood and coincidentally had done an author reading one time with my fellow Lobster Press author, Christina Kilbourne.
When Oliver-Henry went missing, I kept saying that when the time was right, a new cat would come into my life. Lately, I've also been "parenting" several others. My neighbour decided in May that he would let his cats out. He then began using his house more as a cottage, and as far as I can tell, he is home only on Saturday nights. The rest of the time, his cats live in and around my garage. He does seem to leave a bowl of food out on Sunday afternoons, but the squirrels, raccons and skunks clean it out pretty quickly. I didn't start feeding "Sylvester" and "Tweety" (as I call them) until they began tearing open my garbage bags, but now they (and another, seemingly feral cat who won't let me near him) come regularly to dine. Add to that Taz, the cat from down the street, and my mom's cat, Oscar, who is visiting, and one would think that it would be cat-fight city out in my driveway, but so far, everyone seems to get along just beautifully, and I often find them sitting out there contentedly, together.
I've always loved cats. When I nine, I spent a week on my aunt's farm. First place I went every morning was out to the barn to feed the barn cats, even though most of them were wild and untouchable.
Before that, I'd fostered a batch of kittens with their mama cat, whom I'd found out in the woods while raspberry picking one summer.
I like to think that what goes around comes around, and if I love and take care of Majik, plus the brood outside, someone, somewhere, is loving and taking care of Oliver-Henry.
1. The dazzling smile. 2. The superhuman powers (he can get 40,000 fans to sing, wave their arms, or freeze to listen in total silence, without saying a word). 3. He's been around forever, yet... 4. He doesn't seem to age 5. He has a way with words. ("You wanna make a memory..." Wow. So simple. And so much more romantic than most of the propositions I've heard over the years. ) 6. He's loyal. Jon Bon Jovi -- one of the biggest rock stars ever -- is still married to his high school sweetheart. And I think that's the true appeal of both Edward and Jon - everyone wants to believe that there is one person out there who will be devoted to them forever.
Thanks to Samantha for this great site with footage of the July 21st concert at Rogers Centre in Toronto!
I'm listening to news of the Tour de France on the radio today, and remembering the race five years ago, when I just happened to be in Paris, and spontaneously decided to spend the afternoon watching the last laps. I'm not much of a sports fan, and I'd never watched the race on television before (nor have I since). But there is something about sharing a live experience with a crowd that just makes it special. Other once-in-a-lifetimes crowd things that come to mind include Rick Hansen's Man in Motion Tour, when I was in grade twelve, and getting up at five in the morning -- while at camp almost thirty years ago this week -- to watch the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. Back then, we didn't have CNN or YouTube or Yahoo to run repeats all day, so it was get up early with everyone else, or miss it altogether. And even though I wasn't actually at the wedding (though I was at Rick Hansen's Kitchener stop), there was something about watching it together, with everyone else from the camp, that made it more special.
I think that's why people still go to concerts. This week, I had the privilege of seeing Bon Jovi at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Yes, I could have purchased a couple of their CD's for the ticket price I paid, and yes, the sound quality would have been better, and yes, I mostly watched the big screen anyway even though he was right there in front of me, but none of that would have given me that shared moment that comes from being at a live concert. When you are in a stadium, you just can't help but scream, and whistle, and stamp your feet along with everyone else. (Especially when JBJ flashes those pearly whites...but that's another blog post.)
Books aren't like that. Books are, by their very nature, solitary pursuits. But when you meet someone else who's been touched by a great story the way you have, and you connect over the shared enjoyment of it, a little bit of that shared elation shines through.
Above: a lyric from John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane"...because I saw him in concert this week at Casino Rama! I'd been hoping, for a long time, to one day see him perform live (how long you ask? well, I can still remember when he was JOHNNY COUGAR..before I was sixteen!). And the tickets were still kind of expensive (mostly because Casino Rama shows generally run about 75 minutes, tops - they want people to go back out and gamble). But I was prepared to possibly be disappointed (yes, I'm a pessimist) because Mellencamp is almost sixty, because fifteen years ago, when I saw Rod Stewart--who would have only been about forty, the age I am now--he pulled out a stool, put on glasses, and read song lyrics like an old man. Ouch. Mellencamp, I am happy to report, did not disappoint. He sang. He danced. He chatted us up. He swore. He's obviously got the "hold onto sixteen" thing down.
Things I did this week to hold onto sixteen: - went swimming in the lake - went hot-tubbing with friends - went to a Mellencamp concert! - read a YA novel (Somewhere in Blue) - ate chocolate syrup right out of the jar - firmed up plans for the next concert: Bon Jovi! - stayed up as late as I wanted and slept in the next day
Things I did this week that did not make me feel sixteen: - shopped for a new bathing suit - had my physical and was told that I now need regular mammograms, as I am over forty - tried to be my own "hand model" for a Maybe Never, Maybe Now book trailer and realized that my hands just looked too...old. Older than a sixteen year old's, anyway. Had to recruit a friend's daughter, who was perfect with bitten fingernails and chipped blue polish.
The media was (were?) buzzing today with reminders that it is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Live Aid. At the time, it was introduced as my generation's Woodstock. And maybe it wasn't for everyone, for me, I think that was true.
I hadn't actually planned on watching it, but somehow, I ended up turning on the television right near the beginning. I thought maybe I'd just watch until Madonna's performance, as she was my favourite at the time, but I got hooked. It's hard, now, to explain the impact of that concert, because so many things are culturally different. Back in 1985, VCRs were still relatively new, on-screen programming hadn't yet been invented, and taping things was complicated. TiVo and Personal TV were years and years in the future, as were endless internet replays. So if we wanted to watch something, we usually just did it in the moment. The offshoot of that was akin to something that many Canadians felt again this past February, during the men's gold medal hockey game: unity. Somehow, just knowing that so many others were sharing a live event with you - even if you were watching it alone - made you feel as if you were part of something huge.
Nowadays, it is common for performers to raise money through collaborative efforts. But in 1985, Band Aid and Live Aid were unique.
Five years ago I met someone who told me he'd just purchased the Live Aid DVDs. I reminisced about watching it live, seeing Madonna for the first time with auburn hair, and how it had influenced me. He had similar memories, and they joined us together with a common bond, twenty years later.
It was hot this week. Super hot. And I had a lot of things to do: gardening, staining furniture, housework. But I also had a lot of things I wanted to do: reading, writing, painting. Often, I get caught up in the "shoulds", thinking that if I get them out of the way, I'll have time later for the "want tos"...but I never really do get through the "shoulds", and the "want tos" lose out.
Seven years ago, (plus a month), in similarly brutal heat, Ontario suffered from a massive blackout. For three days, the power was out. I couldn't vacuum...or power wash...or do any of the chores that were on my list. It wasn't wasted time, though, because I read books! Guilt free - without feeling like I should be doing something else. I swam -- for hours on end (It was hot! And I couldn't do any chores!). I wrote (with a pen!). I painted. It was one of the best "vacations" I'd ever had.
I remembered the joy of that time this week, in the heat, and I swam a lot. And I read. And I wrote - a little bit - for fun, not for work. It's going to be super hot again this week. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.
I'm the author of four Young Adult novels, "Painting Caitlyn" it's spin-off, "Posing as Ashley", "Definitely Not Camelot" and "Maybe Never, Maybe Now", all published by Lobster Press in Montreal, Canada. I'm also a wife, a daughter, a sister, an animal lover, and a teacher.