After six years of sharing my articles, I still jot facts and quotations and observations on sticky notes for further consideration. This week as I sifted through my scraps and scribbles, a categorical pattern began to emerge: odd facts, sad quotes, lovely ideas. I headed to the computer.
A funny thing happened on the way to actually writing my column, however: the clearly-defined entries in my envisioned trilogy of lists became blurred, kept overlapping. Some paragraphs about sad events were equally lovely, while a couple of downright odd occurrences also seemed sad in a way. In the end I had to abandon any hope of categorical categorization and just write. I will leave it to my dear readers to arrange my list entries as they see fit.
I have never been an “animal person.” Although most of my siblings and their offspring have indoor pets of the canine and feline kind, I guess I live by what I experienced during childhood: cows, chickens, pigs, cats, and dogs all lived outside. In contrast, many friends join my relatives in treating the animals in their lives as close friends, family members even.
Such is the case with a former student of my mine, Ted Jackson. Ted was a delight to have in class for the entirety of his high school career. He showed up on the first day of class with a German-English dictionary and never looked back on his way to the Ph.D in German he holds today.
Ted is mourning the recent death of his cat with whom he shared seventeen years of familial adventure and bliss. His immigration lawyer husband, Keith Southam, wrote a beautiful remembrance of their feline friend, from which I am sharing this excerpt:
She was born sometime in the summer of 2003 in rural Ohio, near the home of Ron and Becky Jackson, a black and grey tabby cat with hints of coloring. Due to a splotch of orange on her forehead, she was given the name “Dot.” After her repeated attempts to sneak in, the humans realized Dot was destined to be an indoor cat. Over Thanksgiving, she met her papas, Ted and Keith, who would give her a forever home, indoors.
Ted and Keith took Dot to St. Louis, where she spent her days lounging in the windows of a high-rise apartment in an upscale neighborhood. When the papas moved to Germany, she was relocated to a farm in the countryside. Dot and Ted joined Keith in Chicago in 2008.
She lived a quiet life, keeping the papas’ apartments rodent-free. Her later years were a quiet mix of window water, greenies, and lounging in hot and uncomfortable locations.
In June her health began to fail. Dot spent her last days, peacefully at home. She was pampered with a heating pad under her cat bed, an endless supply of greenies, and head scratches on demand. Dot passed away on July 6 at home surrounded by her loved ones. A memorial service will take place in Ron and Becky’s backyard, where her ashes will be interred alongside a tree to be planted in her memory.
Dot, I hope that we gave you a happy life and that we made you as happy as you made us. Take care of yourself, sweet little Dot, wherever you are now.
From this sadly-lovely text I can almost understand what a pet and her human can mean to each other.
I recently ran across a few items that warmed my heart enough to record on a sticky note. I read that a couple of New York City park associations had founded The Daffodil Project in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Inspired by a Dutch bulb supplier’s gift of one million yellow daffodil bulbs to be planted in the five boroughs, The Daffodil Project continues to annually donate a half million bulbs to individuals and groups for planting in New York City spaces such as parks, schoolyards, and community gardens. A lovely, living memorial to one our nation’s saddest days…
I also read that Swedish blood donors receive a thank you text message immediately upon their donation. But they receive another text when their blood is put to use: Thank you, the blood you gave is now benefitting a patient. Wow…
Another lovely fact of modern life is that besides YouTube’s huge video collection, the website also allows me to watch and listen to children’s books being read aloud. As much as I appreciate Amazon’s “Look Inside” service, I can examine only a few pages of any proposed purchase. But there is YouTube entry after YouTube entry of folks reading entire children’s books aloud. What a happy internet application for youngsters and oldsters alike…
And over the weekend I noticed during one of the games of the hugely-abbreviated new baseball season that the stands were occupied by cardboard cutouts of fans. When I mentioned the oddity to my sister, she added that some games are also being played to fan soundtracks. After her description of NASCAR competitions at raceways void of spectators, when winners waving their checkered flags hear no crowd cheers, what I saw on my television screen seemed somewhat less odd.
Finally, here is a recent dialog between my five-and-a-half-year-old great-niece and her mother. Olivia: I had amazing dreams last night! Mom: What were they about? Olivia: Everything being normal. Oddly lovely but also sad…
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.