(For those who have asked for a status on Lori MacDonald's cats, neighbor Ridge gave us some great news today, Sunday, 7/28: Both kitties have a new home -- better still, they will be together -- best of all, somewhere in the neighborhood. A happy ending -- how lovely is that?)
I didn't want or plan to make July the month my blog revolves around either cats or death, as I'm not a strict fan of either. But sometimes we can't control these things. My neighbor, Lori MacDonald, died recently, and yes, as luck would have it, she owned two cats.
Lori lived on my street, Athens, but across the main drag. We hit it off right away, ten years ago, because she adored my boxer, Phoebe. The feeling was mutual. They'd greet each other, continental style (you know the drill) -- kiss on the left side of the face, on the right, on the left again.
Lori was a retired English teacher and gym instructor at either a local junior college or high school. So we had plenty to talk about -- Shakespeare, Dickens, Bryson, long distance running, Federer, Nadal.
And roses. Lori could often be found in her front garden, tending her roses. Probably the most beautiful roses in all Altadena, and that's saying something.
"Do you have bouquets in every room?" I asked. And no, she didn't. She said her cats were allergic to the scent; I actually think she was. Turns out she grew and tended these hybrid teas for our pleasure -- we, her neighbors and the casual passers-by. She was like that, you know. A true neighbor. If someone was sick or had a problem, she'd bring them flowers, walk their dogs, watch their house, or take care of their kid.
A couple of years ago, I passed by her house, dogless, and Lori asked after Phoebe. And then, as was my habit for several months with friends, I ended up a soppy, soggy mess on her shoulder, telling her that Phoebe had died. What can I say; we all don't rise to every occasion with equal degrees of success.
What I didn't know through all the years of our friendship, is that Lori had been battling cancer. One of those insidious cancers that requires invasive surgeries on a fairly regular basis. She'd be gone for a week or more, and I'd notice, and ask for particulars when I found her outside, pruning. "I've been at a college reunion," she'd say, time and time again. And I'd think, gosh, that college is downright fanatic about how it constantly reunites.
Whenever she went to these college reunions, she'd tell me and all the neighbors, "I'll be gone for awhile, so please, take as many roses as you want. Feel free."
About a week before she died, her roses looked dry and sad, and weeds were growing between Mr. Lincoln and Double Delight. That's when I got worried. Her close neighbors, neighbors who looked after her as she had looked after them, filled me in. The last time I saw Lori, she wasn't with her roses, but on her porch, in a bathrobe, and barely able to make it to the front door.
I couldn't say, "Lori, I'm so sorry, and I will miss you, dearly." Instead I said, "Lori, I'll bring you soup! Please tell me what kind of soup you'd like!"
And she said, drawing herself up tall, and waving, "That sounds wonderful. Not today, but come back next week and we'll visit."
We never got that visit. So I visit her cat. She had two, both rescues. I don't know the black one, but the orange tiger-stripe sits by the front window, waiting. Sometimes I sit on the front porch and we chat.
Lori's cats need homes. So I'm putting this out here, in lieu of the soup I never made, and the words I never said.
The cats are young, but not too young, well behaved, ever so pretty, and from a very loving home. I wish for them a happy ending; Lori would have liked that.
Here I go, unrising to yet another occasion. I forgot to post the phone numbers. If you have room for one or both of these orphans -- and of course they're fixed, all-shots, healthy, litter-trained, and ready to sit by your computer as you read and write -- please call Family contact: Chris Cole (nephew) (949) 632-9479; or Estate contact: Barbara Kirk (estate trustee) (909) 238-6609.