On a late afternoon, in the early summer of 1994,
I walked up St. Laurent Blvd. towards Leonard Cohen’s house
near the sweet Portuguese park on Marie-Anne street.
I had a small basket in one hand
and intentions of unconditional love in the other.
Lorca, Leonard’s beautiful, tattooed and mysterious daughter,
had told my best friend Steve about the batch of kittens she needed homes for.
I come from a long line of feline friendly family.
There has never been a day in any of my family’s houses without a cat.
When I came into the world, my mother had a cat named “Red Fuzz”
who ultimately was training for her perfect mothering
she provides me and my brother Yves.
Cats are equal to family in our homes.
So there was a big batch of perfect fuzzies, all long haired,
some multi colored, but only one red.
Be it the ancient memories of Red Fuzz,
or my own red head identity,
there was no question that I was walking out with that red ball of fluff in my basket.
“Thor” was of course destined to be his name.
The god of thunder spent most of his first week
under my bed curled up in the basket he came in.
He never tired of that habit of sleep and retreat,
and my mother always kept a basket on the ready for him.
He had another irresistable pass time, sucking his toe.
Yes, like a child sucking his thumb,
he would get really comfortable and sooth himself by sucking his back toe.
In hind sight, I think I took him away from his mother a little too soon,
and he never gave up trying to nurse.
Within a month of adopting this ball of magic, I was asked to join the band Hole,
for their world tour in support of their latest album “Live Through This”.
My decision to accept this extreme musical invitation changed my life forever.
The United States of America, and it’s inspired world of alternative rock music,
became my home and I have never lived in Montreal full time again.
Leaving my rich and intimate life was dramatic.
In this over night break from my life long home of 22 years I left behind;
my then band “Tinker”,
my photography degree,
my very close community of family and friends,
and of course, Thor.
As I began my new life of travel, absolute strangers and no particular home,
Thor moved in with my family.
Thor became a kind of a totem to that time and place.
He symbolizes that big break, and represented my youth that I left behind.
He was a cat of “little brains” my mother called him.
He didn’t have an ounce of that independent feline aloofness, more like a puppy,
he wanted love and affection from anything, any time
(it is said that male red cats are always like that).
As he followed the action where ever it went, he had no fear.
He’d wander into the street, while flirting with dogs, cars and plants.
He was truly irresistible as a teddy bear.
People would gasp with an overload of cuteness.
Thor had more medical problems than the common cat,
probably because he was part fancy cat,
and fancy cats always have weaker genetic make ups
(rumor has it that Thor’s parents may have been siblings…).
Last year while suffering from a bum problem the vet noticed his irregular heart beat,
turns out his heart was slowly falling apart.
A slow degradation of heart was in process,
threatening the usual age of 18 that cats under my mother’s care live.
2008 arrived, and so did Thor’s first seizure.
His heart was not pumping the blood correctly,
resulting in clotting and eventual failure.
Luckily I was visiting Montreal last week,
when the cat cardiologist explained
his heart was in such bad shape that he could more or less die any day.
Instead of risking a stroke like seizure that could be incredibly painful
and leave him paralyzed,
we decided to put him sweetly to sleep as the seizures increased.
Pet love is from another dimension of the cosmos.
All they want is love (and food) and that is what they give.
I dedicate this Valentines day,
to Thor’s heart,
and to anyone who has ever loved an animal (including a human) to death.