Friday, January 12, 2018


"What greater gift than the love of a cat." ~ Charles Dickens

Yesterday we said goodbye to a dear and treasured member of our family.

Luigi nestled in a box in our neighbour's garage, April 2011.
    Luigi came into our lives just when he was needed the most.  A stray, he seemingly appeared out of nowhere and followed my neighbours home from a walk.  From that day on he managed to secure a place in my heart and in our lives.  My husband, who was never a lover of cats, allowed Luigi into our home and he immediately became a part of our family.

    Relegated to the basement upon first arriving (that didn't last long) my kids created a warm and inviting space for him.  He was their first pet and Luigi had many lessons to teach them.

Luigi's first night in our home.

     It didn't take much time for Luigi to become a treasured member of our family.  Before long, we couldn't have imagined our lives without him.  He was a great comfort, a happy distraction and the perfect companion.  He showed up for family meals, first day of school photo shoots and was always there to welcome you at the door.  He greeted us in the morning with a soulful hello and a head bump.  He settled in with us in the evenings while we watched our favourite shows, purring all the while in someone's lap. And no matter where he was in the house, he'd come running when he heard the rustle of the cereal box in the off chance that he'd be rewarded with the remnants of milk in your bowl.   


     From the start, it was evident that Luigi was a special cat.  His arrival was timed perfectly with the loss of my job as an elementary school librarian.  It was a job that I had loved dearly and I was blindsided by the loss of it.  I found myself lost without a job to go to each day.  My husband and kids were wonderful, but they went off  to work and school leaving me to wander aimless and without purpose around our house.  It would become obvious later on that Luigi came into my life just when I needed him most.  

"It takes a cat to heal a woman's wounded heart." ~ Esther Child

     He intuitively knew where he was needed.  He had a way of changing the energy in the house.  Instead of being sad and moping I became transformed by his presence.  He made me smile and when I needed comfort he was there to purr in my lap. Luigi was a constant companion as I struggled to find my path again.  He seemed to have the ability to change my negative energy into something peaceful and calming.   

"A cat can make you feel well rested when you're tired or turn a rage into a calm just by sitting on your lap.  His very nearness is a healing song." ~ Shannon Hale

    After taking a year to feel sorry for myself, I decided to go back to school.  In 2012, at the age of 43, I was accepted into the Faculty of Education.  It was a year of self discovery and growth and as one can see from the pictures below, Luigi was my constant adviser.  He helped me find my path again and always knew when his support was needed.

      Though Luigi wasn't the most active cat, he preferred lounging in a patch of sun or laying in a lap, he was known to provide some comic relief around our house.  He loved to help you open presents, fold laundry and take out the recycling.  Curiosity was one of his many adorable character traits. He taught my children empathy and unconditional love.


     Luigi was best known for his cuddling abilities.  On mornings when I didn't have anything pressing to get up for he was the worst influence.  Often keeping me pinned in my bed for longer than was appropriate for a wife and mother of three.  He seemed to put things into perspective.  Napping was an essential part of daily life and it was better when it was a shared activity.  He would often lay on the kids until their legs went numb.  No one wanted to get up and disturb his resting spot, or perhaps they just enjoyed his company enough to make the sacrifice.  

     Through the years, Luigi and his comforting ways would come to touch us all.  Personally, he saw me through many of my most trying and difficult times. While I once again found employment in a field that I love, politics veered me off my path for a grueling eight month period.  During this time I found myself pushed to the brink and my limits were tested.  At the end of a long and tedious day of walking a picket line Luigi was there to comfort me and my sore feet.  He honestly seemed to know right where he was needed and when.  

   As if being on strike wasn't difficult enough, I also lost my brother during this time.  Predeceased by my other two older siblings, this was a loss that came unexpectedly and hard.  There were days when I felt that I just could not go on to bear another thing.  I fell into a dark and deep depression that pushed away many of my closest friends. Sometimes I felt like I would never smile again.  Yet somehow, the love of my family and this special cat brought me out from the depths of my despair.  I honestly don't know what I would have done without him and the support of my family. Together they helped me once again find my happy place, at home with them.

      After the loss of my brother, we decided to adopt a rescue dog.  We knew the love and companionship an animal could bring into our lives and we were ready to open our hearts once again. Unannounced to Luigi, Sophie arrived  in September of 2016.  Upon her arrival she brought with her a bit of chaos and, for a time, turned our household upside down.  Throughout the transition, Luigi remained unfazed.  He didn't mind the dog and the dog didn't mind him.  While they were never ones to cuddle and interact, they cohabited and shared the love our family had to give them.  

They loved to watch me make supper every night.

I do believe that Luigi was the boss of this relationship.
     We were blessed to have Luigi in our lives for just short of 7 wonderful years.  In those years he brought us so much and gave me comfort and strength when I absolutely needed it the most.   He was a cat like no other and will forever remain in our hearts. As we said our goodbyes yesterday our hearts were broken. Mine is heavy as I write this, but I know that I will carry him with me always.  He was that special and we loved him with all of our hearts. We absolutely did.