Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cancer and loss and depression, Oh my!

     Who Knew? Really, not me. I was the most cynical of all cynics when it came to true love. I told my daughters, "Love is a disease that makes you deaf, dumb, and blind.  Your brain goes right out the window and your body starts thinking with parts totally unsuited for major life decisions. I hope I've developed extremely strong antibodies to the disease of love. Goddess knows I've had the inoculation." 
      I mean, that's the logical conclusion one comes to when one has survived an abusive childhood with deranged alcoholics for parents and step-parents. They were role models for why love and marriage is a trap--especially for women. Follow this up with my own painful divorce and twenty five years of sporadic dating with men who were too self absorbed or selfish to think of anyone's need but their own; or who wanted me just until someone better came along; or who wanted all I could offer for very little in return; or who had LOTS of baggage from broken relationships or they wanted me to be their mother. I am SO over that one. After a certain point it wasn't worth the bother because I am not a woman who settles for less than I deserve anymore. I am just that stubborn.
     After battling ovarian cancer in 2008 I fell into a deep depression after the death of my most trusted friend to an owl attack autumn of 2009. She was a four legged fur person by the name of Sianna. Born in the closet of my house in Spokane, Washington eleven years earlier, Sianna is the partner I thought would share my golden years.
     S. was not just your run of the mill felis cattus. She was a mixture of black domestic American short hair and Havana Brown. Her face was sleek, with the hallmark Siamese shape enhanced by intelligent green eyes. Her fur appeared black on the surface with a deep red undercoat.
     You know how you can look into an animal's eyes and most of the time a lively animal is looking back? And very rarely you can catch an animal's gaze and see an extremely intelligent, sentient being staring back at you with a glance that informs you "someone" is at home in there. That was how it was with Sianna. She was wicked smart and had a great sense of humor.
     S. loved to play with the rubber coated pony tail bands I used to catch my shoulder length hair. In particular, she adored the red ones, pawing through the tiny woven basket on the bathroom vanity for her favorites. She would pick them out with a carefully placed scimitar shaped claw, flip the red band to the floor and commence playing hockey with it, using the bathroom door as a reverse goalie. When tired of this game, Sianna would seize the red band in her teeth and sashay into the living room to hide it in the couch cushions--for later. She loved ice cream and yogurt as much as me, and always sat quietly, using her best manners, waiting for the final spoonful which was always hers.
     Sianna saved my youngest daughter's life once when wires shorted out in the furnace and the house filled with smoke. Sparky--as my favorite youngest daughter is called--could sleep through world war III taking place on her pillow. Sianna heard the smoke alarm and hooked her paws under the bedroom door, rattling it nearly off the hinges until Sparky woke up and called the fire department. My daughters thought of this cat as their other sibling. Sparky called her Peekin' Puss Le Fuzzy Butt. My favorite oldest daughter Jesse, called Sianna Little Sister.
     Sianna could disappear into shadows and reappear suddenly to the great surprise and consternation of folks who are not fond of cats. She particularly loved to tweak their ignorance by appearing out of nowhere and settling on their lap. S. hated it when I traveled and vacillated between eagerly welcoming me home, and showing me her tail and ignoring me for a day or so upon my return. She thought the house sitter kept her dirty little secret about sleeping in my clothes basket on the laundry pile that smelled like me.
     Sianna adored the garden and gamboled like a frisky kitten (the only time she stooped to such immature antics) to entice me outside for walks with her. Peekin' stopped to savor the mint and and smell the roses, settling in the grassy shade to watch bumblebees tumble through the pansies and bleeding hearts. We sat on the back steps every morning at six a.m. I drank my tea and together we watched the world wake up and the day unfold.
     S. also loved to watch public television and in particular Nature. We had a date every Sunday evening at eight p.m.--me on the couch and she in my lap; both of us intent on the forty three inch television screen and the wildlife drama taking place in front of us narrated by F. Murray Abraham.  Sianna "got" me in a way few people ever did.
     I thought I would grow into old age as the single cat lady--the one with multiple cats who wears Birks, baggy dresses and slumpy sweaters. I thought I would write my books, tend my garden, and die old peacefully alone.
     After Sianna's death I cried myself to sleep for weeks, moping around the house in my jammies, hugging my pillow and listlessly watching public television. I was guilty of taking life for granted, feeling so miserable about my life when I'd just spent two years fighting for it.
Courtesy of
     One October evening I was watching Burt Wolfe's Travel & Traditions. Burt was standing on a cruiser in the middle of the Canal du Midi in France, talking about the fabulous views, the food, the wine, and life along the canals. As I watched I swear the words, "Insert Chrisi Kincaid here" appeared across the top of my television screen. I sat up suddenly, engaged. I may be worthless and inept at my own personal love life but I am a secret romantic who can always go to bat for others.
     Chrisi is my dear friend and workmate who lives on a farm with her husband Keith. They were college sweethearts and have successfully raised four kids, numerous herds of cattle, and lots of grand mischief together. They haven't been on a vacation alone in nearly twenty years--not since their children were born. I could see them in France, boating down the river, enjoying each other amongst the delights of the Continent. I decided to Google this canal boat thing and give farmer Kincaid's wife some info and a push to plan a vacation alone with her husband.Who knows what it could lead to?


  1. Welcome to the world of Blogging and as l am "him" it`s only right l be the first to make a comment.So here it is;
    I love you.

  2. Oh wow Jaqueline, I wish I had known Sianna and I wait with baited breath to hear the on going story and what we all hope will be a very happy ending. Karen B

  3. Les,
    Thank you for your support, encouragement, and belief in me. I am so grateful you answered my initial post to your blog last November. Without your response there would be no story to live--or tell; there would be no "us."
    I love you too.

  4. I can't wait til the next installment! I feel lucky to be involved in this story.

  5. Reading this makes me cry for oh so many reasons. While your path in life may take you far away, I hope it will always lead you to happy places.

  6. Sparky,
    I would not be the person I am today without you and Jesse. I am so grateful you both chose me to be your mother. You've both been superb life teachers and my heart's joy.
    I love you to end of the universe--and back.

  7. Karen and Sally,
    I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful and supportive friends--who are also part of this story!
    Love Jaq :)

  8. you are such an eloquent writer, drawing my rapt attention as I tried to find the "next" button in order to continue reading the story only to fins it is to be continues.... Way to go my friend!! :)

  9. Mama I would not be the stubborn, question asking, digging my heels in, strong, opinionated woman I am today if it was not for every thing you taught me. I know that this brings you much joy and for that I am happy. I am sure that in time I will come to terms with you being so far away. Never stop writing, laughing, loving, or being who you are! you are one in umpteenmillion and you are fabulous!

  10. Sianna was awesome! She will be missed. Its funny, this cat has so many names, I forget this was her given name. Didn't you call her "Puss" too? When I use to catsit for you, she would grace me with her presence by sitting on my lap and watching DVD's with me.

    Anyway, I have really enjoyed reading this blog so far and I look forward to the next intstallment!!
    Christina :)

  11. Hello Christina,
    Yes, I did call her Puss. I know you and she developed a close friendship, owing to the many times you visited us and watched over house and cat for me while I traveled. She was a great movie pal wasn't she?
    Love Jaq

  12. Jacqueline,

    I thought it was time I took a quick look at your story. A quick look turned into a complete reading! You are a wonderfule writer & your stories (especially the new love story) fill me with happiness & hope.

    Thank you again for a wonderful lunch and conversation before Thanksgiving. I feel like I've discovered a kindred soul!


  13. Hello Debbie,
    Thank you for visiting the blog, and for your kind words. I'm glad you like our story. The world needs more joy and hope--and love! I feel like we are kindred spirits as well. I thought so when you self identified as a "Book woman." :)I thoroughly enjoyed lunch and look forward to dinner with you and Charlie when Les is back in town.