Three Little Angels

As you know, just a few days into the year I lost my darling cat to a sudden illness. We had just started our eighteenth year together, and he would have turned nineteen or twenty this year.

About to pounce on a muffin. Puddy would then roll onto his back and juggle it with all four paws, while Oso and Lady waited for it to fall.

Mr. Cat was a sweet yet tough little guy, and for weeks after his death my two dogs, Oso and Lady, searched the house for him. He had a maddening habit of popping out of nowhere and hitting them on the head or paws, then scampering away. I don’t think they ever quite got used to the idea that it was safe to walk across the room.

We moved through spring and Into summer without Mr. Cat, each of us mourning in his own way. Then, on June 2, Oso died suddenly of a presumed heart attack.

Oso was my big, silly baby bear, a dog who loved nothing more than to be petted and hugged and fed his favorite foods. He was one of those dogs who was always in the way, always trying to stay one step ahead. He’d rush to be the first in the kitchen, and no matter where he parked himself it was always the wrong place. He’d be in front of the stove when I needed to cook, in front of the fridge when I needed to get food, in front of the sink when I needed water. The few times he landed in the center of the room he was in the way, period.

Mom’s big brown bear.

Oso, as acting supervisor, would stick his head over my shoulder to check on the status of the food in the oven. He would sit and watch me chop vegetables, and insisted on a look before they went into the pot. He loved bananas and apples and his Thanksgiving treat of a slice of pumpkin pie.

Loving, friendly, and always ready for his close-up, he often posed for photos with passers-by on Devon, especially with children who squealed with joy that they could put their arms around my big, sweet bear. It got so that he would see a camera, and immediately assume his best pose.

Oso was a big dog with a big personality, and the house was suddenly empty without him. I hadn’t fully realized how well he took care of Lady until his passing.

My beautiful little girl had suffered all her life from a seizure disorder thought to be caused by a brain tumor. She also had congenital cataracts. A few years ago, one seizure affected first one front paw and then the other. After that, she didn’t want to go outside anymore. Even when I carried her down the stairs, she would refuse to walk and instead sit and wait to be taken back home. She was terrified of fireworks, which triggered  seizures, and I dreaded the summer holidays.

With Oso gone, she had difficulty finding her way around the house. I would often come home to find her standing trapped under a chair or in a blind corner, not sure in which direction to move. I was used to seeing Oso go to her aid, walking up to her and then moving  away,  a gesture that said just follow me and I’ll take you back to your bed. Lacking his guidance, she would now cry when trapped. I didn’t think Lady would make it through the summer, and, sadly, she didn’t. After several harrowing days and nights  of  fireworks explosions, she suffered her final seizure on July 3. My darling Lady died peacefully in her sleep mid-morning on July 4.

My beautiful Lady.

Lady was a beautiful dog, and she knew it. In her prime, she would strut down the street, conscious of admiring glances and enjoying the attentions of  people who would stop to fuss over her. Until her most serious seizure a couple of years ago, she was very playful, especially with dogs her own size. Sweet and loving, she had no interest at all in being Top Dog, a position that Oso and I each felt was ours (we fought to a draw).

All three of my angels died in a bit less than six months. Their ashes are back home with me, and they, along with their brothers and sisters, will be buried with me when my time comes.

I take my morning walks by myself now, and miss ethe excitement of a dog discovering the world anew every morning, examining each flower and blade of grass as though they hadn’t been there yesterday, then eagerly poking a head around the corner to see what’s there, catching a scent on the breeze and pulling on the leash to follow it. I’ve never had a cat who wasn’t fascinated by life on the other side of the window, watching the world for hours and then snoozing on the windowsill in the sunlight.

I have been blessed with many wonderful dogs and cats over the years. I like to think that when Mr. Cat, Oso, and Lady crossed the Rainbow Bridge they were greeted by the brothers and sisters who preceded them. I like to think of all of them running around on a cloud, playing happily and joyfully, Lady reuniting with her buddy Paco, Mr. Cat exploring the heavens, and Oso charming everyone in sight–lovingly in the way.

Eventually, there will be another cat and another dog, and they will be as unique and wonderful as all my other angels. But for now, I feel lost, my home is empty, and I cannot think yet about bringing another pet home.

Later, but not now.




A Vote for Chuy is a Vote for Positive Change

I’m not a Rahm-hater. I think he’s done what he could with the mess Richie Daley left behind. Daley bamboozled the City for years and the cowardly City Council did nothing to stop him. Any attempts at rebellion were quashed by the withholding or granting of funds and city services.

But Rahm continued that tradition. He’s far too comfortable with moneyed interests and not comfortable at all with the working stiffs who give this City its real vibrancy–the people who raise their families in the non-trendy neighborhoods, the people who start small businesses like food carts or two-table restaurants, the people who bear the brunt of high taxes and higher fees, who fight for better schools for their children, and who want an end to the corruption that fuels Chicago. Rahm tried to buy  the City Council he wanted this time around, and would have succeeded were it not for mayoral candidates like Chuy Garcia, Bob Fioretti, and Willie Wilson, each of whom brought reform elements to the race.

Frankly, I’m tired of candidates who say they’ll fight for my interests. I think I’d be far better represented by someone who is willing to listen, to talk, to reach consensus, to compromise where necessary and fair without losing basic moral convictions. Money talks–and talks far too much in Chicago. It’s time for the people to ber heard.

Those who support Chuy are determined to build a Chicago that doesn’t rely on who you know but on who you are. Those who are working for Chuy’s election are working for neighborhood empowerment, for the kind of people-power that all too often disappears after elections, when reality sets in and the power brokers make their return, always ready with a pocketful of cash to indoctrinate the victors into the way the system really works.

A vote for Chuy is a vote for positive change. It is the best opportunity Chicagoans have had for decades to elect a mayor who really is like us–not a rich guy with Ivy League connections and lots of powerful friends on Wall Street, but a man who knows how hard it is to make a buck, to take care of your family, and to keep your dreams alive. He can work with the rich and powerful without losing his values precisely because he never set out to become one of them. He knows who he is and what he stands for. He never left the old neighborhood. He’s one of us.

And that’s why we’ll be voting for him on April 7.