Blackie and Ginger on their cat tree, 1995
I’m not in a relationship now, but when I think back, the most loving thing any man has ever done for me was by T. He was like a gift who arrives in your life but you don’t quite realize it. I saw the potential for friendship right away, and invited him to stay in my home until he had his own place. He was stuck in a motel after being transferred to our northern community.
My life immediately became easier. It was great to have congenial company. He would scan flyers for grocery bargains and handled a lot of the cooking. In winter, he did a lot of the snow shovelling. He even won a snowblower for me, which made snow clearing much faster and easier. He didn’t know anything about cats to begin with, but over time, Ginger and Blackie became family to him.
I admired his muscled physique. Our easy times together morphed into more. But then one or the other of us would want to be just friends.
When I was going through a hard time and felt I had to leave the community, he agreed to watch my house. I was done there and put the house up for sale. I drove to Vancouver with my two cats and a few items that I cared about. I had to get away.
I stayed with family at first. But my anger at my situation got redirected, and I started to clash with my father’s wife. My father had remarried after my mother died. Although they had had cats before, they were presently catless. Now cat hair on the furniture was a problem, and Ginger and Blackie were banished to the laundry room. One day I noticed how scared they seemed when the noisy appliances were running. I went for a long walk, and realized I had to find another place for me and my cats.
A motel on Denman Street accepted all of us without question. I felt I was in the right place when I saw my cats sitting in the window, watching birds chirping and flitting about in the Japanese cherry trees, which were just beginning to flower. I had missed Vancouver's flowering trees. The room was dark and the furniture worn, but we could rest. Still, I began to wonder how long my cash reserves would last, paying the high weekly rate for the motel room while my house remained unsold. The house had some issues that made a sale seem unrealistic, like a neighbour’s fence that encroached onto the property.
When I shared my worries with T. in one of our long conversations on the phone, he offered to come and take us back home. He would get a free flight with his company and drive us back in my car. He exchanged shifts with a colleague and arranged for several days off that he could spend in Vancouver.
It felt great to see a good friend at the airport. Our relationship stepped up. His eyes widened when I leaned into him when we visited his family. I didn’t want to be parted from him. I was resigned to deal with unfinished business at home and felt safer when we returned. He helped me restore my equilibrium.
When I thanked him for what he had done, he downplayed it, saying he was happy to do it. He probably enjoyed the respite in Vancouver just as much as I did. But isn’t that what a true hero does, say that anyone else would have done the same?
My father’s second wife has passed on, but I still have the green fleece robe she gave me that Christmas. I have had others, but none fit as well as the one she sewed for me. Margaret understood that tall women need extra-long robes. My current cat Kringle loves it too. The robe was featured in my first video of him getting busy with something soft.
It’s wonderful knowing that you were once loved. That you are loved. And you are, do you know that?
- Irene Plett
Topics: Love, Ginger, Blackie, Kringle, cats, friendship, family