Thursday, July 18, 2013

Altadena Neighbor Lori MacDonald (Update: Cats Adopted!)

(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.

Here's one:

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.


  1. Well, u touched a nerve here... What a remarkable, selfless woman your friend was and I am sure her reputation will live on... and I wish I could take on one of her babies, but the one I have would probably scratch my eyes out or trip me on the stairs if I took in another... I am sure her 4 legged ones are missing her dearly..,,.
    btw, my city is on the news... we've got a nurse who sings at our local hospital... young nurse who sings the classics... your story as well as the nurse's has touched me.

  2. What a moving story. An amazing woman.

    I really hope her kitties find loving homes soon.

  3. We'll all miss her Karen. I live on Mount Curve and one time Laurie gave me a whole armload of roses to take home because my inlaws were visiting.

  4. I didn't know Lori. It sounds like I missed out.

    This is the thing you can do for her. I'm going to link to your post on Facebook.

  5. You sure have a way with words, Karin. Now I'm regretting I never knew this amazing woman. I really hope her lovely cats find a new home. As I started to read it, I thought it would end with you taking them in - but I guess with Albert around, that's impossible (unless, like another animal lover we know, you keep dog, rabbit and cats in separate rooms.

  6. Thanks all. Let's hope it does some good.

    Bellis, or like someone else we know who keeps two pits and two cats all in separate rooms. No, if I had one more bedroom, I could do it. The tiger is really a very special cat, very smart.

  7. It's a lovely tribute to a delightful neighbor. I'm sorry you didn't get to enjoy the soup with her.

  8. A kind, caring, literary, brave person . . . how big is the space she's left behind.

    I hope the cats find a caring home. Cats are the coolest.

  9. There's a very good chance Lori knew what you were really telling her with your offer of soup, KB. I hope you can help find someone new to love her kitties for her. She sounds like one of the especially special ones.

  10. Karin, if only Hana weren't as ornery as she is (i.e., not inclined to get along with any other pets), I would adopt those kitties in a sec. I'll spread the word.

  11. She sounds just lovely. I wish I'd gotten to know her too. The image of her carrying an armload of roses to give to a neighbor is wonderful.

    I wish I could take in the cats, but as you know the zoo is full. I'll definitely spread the word.

  12. Thanks to many facebook and blog cross-posts, we've had about 800 people virtually visit Lori and the two cats who need a home. I don't know if it has been successful yet, ie, resulting in an actual adoption, but seems the odds must be in our favor. I will follow-up, that I promise.

  13. What a touching story, Karin. Lori looks a lovely person and you wrote a sensible and beautiful story. I hope her cats finds a nice home.

  14. That’s an elegant, lovely tribute. The strength of some people in the face of such things is amazing. And humbling.

    One of the first literary things that got a hook in me came in high school—Julius Caesar: “The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.”
    Once I looked up "interred," I thought that was pretty cool, started looking for examples, found very few in my Mayberry.

    But these days I’m also noticing how often memorial statements make clear, as they should, just how much goodness some, or even most, people have left for us to remember—ordinary people, right down the street. So in the midst of our sorrow, anger, fear, there can also be a lot of comfort--that we were in the same species, on the same team, as that person.

    I hope there is, or soon will be, good news on the cats.

  15. Wow, Banjo, that took my breath away. You should post that comment as an essay on your blog so we don't lose it.

  16. This week at the conference we talked about the difference one person/singular acts can make. Lori MacDonald lived that. Your neighborhood will miss her. If I lived there I would take the orange cat in a heartbeat ~ best cat we'll ever have the pleasure of hosting was an orange tomcat. Hope good things happen for both of the kitties....

  17. Karin, you are definitely good people. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. There are good homes for her cats, I know it, just as I know that you will be the link that connects the two.

    Much love,

  18. Such a lovely tribute to Lori. She sounds like an amazing neighbor, who will be missed by many. I do hope her sweet cats find a loving home soon.

  19. what a lovely tribute to your frined.....she lives on in your words so beautifully.

  20. No, I don't think the cats have been adopted yet...

  21. Sorry to hear about your neighbor. A sweet, sad story. I am sure the kitties will find good homes.

  22. My hubby is allergic so we are a cat free zone over here. I hope the kitties are ok and that they will have a home soon.

  23. Do you wish you said the words? I think it would have been ok.

    Trying to place the kitties is better than soup.

  24. Sharon, I wish you did live closer to me. Or maybe I wish I lived closer to you. Although I hear Maine has been in triple digits this summer.

    We'll see, Carolynn & Katie. I won't be on the cutting edge of this news, but a neighbor will let me know.

    YAH, She made it easy.

    Ken and Margaret, that's the plan.

    Beckynot, no; I would have been crossing her line.

  25. Whether it was the reblogging -- and many thanks to Tim Rutt at Altadenablog -- or your facebook postings, or even word of mouth, it's such great news these cats now have a new home. Yay to you, the kitties, good neighbors, and the woman who is adopting them. Sweet dreams, Lori.

  26. So sad! She sounds like a nice lady and your post is a great tribute to her. We already have four rescued cats in our house that I'm allergic to.

  27. I was just finding them a goddess! Happy news, but now I have to change my blog post!

  28. Hi -- Thank you for your blog post - I was Lori's neighbor from 1989 and owned the house on the northeast corner of Athens for about ten years. I was looking at Realtor tonight and noticed her house was for sale and vacant. Googled - and discovered your blog - and surprisingly no other obituary.

    Lori taught my best friend in high school, and her two sisters - so we - as a few other neighbors were six-degrees away from being "family"…. as was the case with a lot of neighbors who landed in those few blocks - you'd get to talking and you knew someone who knew someone and there it was.

    I knew Lori was dealing with Cancer -- and that it was an ongoing ordeal for her. I was surprised that she passed - there was one thing that never changed in the neighborhood and that was Loris presence. I hope she did not suffer for very long.

    She adored my Scotties and when I came back to house-sit for another neighbor for a few weeks she got to see them again. She had a key to the house and I heard her VERY VERY EARLY in the morning plying the pups with cookies. I am sure she is surrounded by a lot of our pets - who have gone before her… she loved all of them.


  29. CF, Thanks so much for the story. You captured Lori's essence so well.