Illusion of Control – Feline Version


IMG_6206After 16 years, Calliope and I are about to be separated. I will miss our morning breakfast routine, a time when she talks constantly, and has an unerring instinct for being in the middle of the path from the kitchen table to the coffee pot or the refrigerator.  Her hope is that Kent or I will massage her belly or her head with a foot (be it shod or bare).  We do, of course, and have gotten quite adept at balancing on one foot while the other slides across her fur.

Our first meeting was a moment of perfect serendipity. 

A flower shop is not the kind of place you go if you want to adopt a cat.  But there, tucked among the seedlings at the Plantshed at Broadway and 96th Street in New York City, was a six-week old handful of white and tan fur, mewing in the thin, reedy and high-pitched sound I associated with a calliope.  She was cute, no doubt about it. But when I looked into her hazel eyes, I was hooked.  Without a second thought, I tucked her into my bag along with several exotic plants for my terrace and off we went.  

Our parting is an equally amazing piece of serendipity.  Kent and I are moving into an apartment building that will not allow pets, and for months we’ve agonized over what to do about Calliope.  She is too old for the adoption agencies to want her. And since she’s never spent a night anywhere except this house in more than thirteen years, I was sure any move would be intolerably traumatic.  Given her age, I couldn’t justify putting off decisions we had to make because of our age, but neither could I justify putting a still healthy and beautiful animal to sleep for my convenience. 

And then, when I didn’t think I had any more tears left, we sold our house to a wonderful family of five that wants to keep Calliope.  I know they will love her — as I write she is sleeping happily on one of the unwashed tee-shirts they delivered a few days ago, so she could adjust to their smell while Kent and I were still with her. And it seems that we can come and visit her from time to time, at least for a while.    

Control is a much over-rated phenomenon. Despite all my planning and organizing, Calliope came into my life on her terms and she is leaving that way as well.  No way I could ever have planned any of this.  Serendipity?  Luck?  Who knows, but it sure wasn’t control.  


  1. Ah, Mary, what sweet serendipity on both ends of Calliope’s life with you. I don’t know what I’d do if we had to find a place for our Maggie right now. We adopted her four years ago and she is as much a part of our life as each of our children were and are. I love the photo of someone’s foot massaging Calliope, and I love that the new family wants to keep her and are making every effort to ensure a smooth transition. Blessings and good fortunes in your new place.

    • Thanks Sherrey … I hate moving, but the hardest part is leaving Calliope. I’m not sure how I would be managing right (6 days to go), if I didn’t know that she would be safe and well-taken care of. I will be less than a mile away, and her new parents have extended visitation rights, so I think it is an amazingly serendipitous outcome.

  2. Wonderful. We were lucky when we moved to Turkey that my mother and sister could take our well-loved cats. They lived many years after that, and were spoiled to the end. Best of luck to you and Calliope — which is a splendid name! There’s an old children’s book — wish I could remember the title — that has a rooster named “Calamity” in it. I love that, too.

    • Hi Lindy Thanks for your reassurance that adoptions can work well. BTW … do you still live in Turkey and if so, where? I traveled around Turkey some years back. There wasn’t anyplace that I didn’t like, but thought Istanbul was GREAT city!

  3. Caliope will be much happier staying in her home and getting to know her new family on her own terms. You’ll miss her and she will miss you, but your lives will unfold as they will. We actually had less trouble parting with our boat because it just wouldn’t have been a proper home for our three fuzzy boys, and as much as we love our time afloat, we love them more. Now, of course, if we won the lottery and could purchase a 40 foot tug? They’d have to earn some sealegs!

    • Hi Richard. Your fuzzy boys are very lucky! I think another issue in our decision was that we are traveling more and more. I’ve very guilty leaving Calliope alone for two months a year for the last few years. I’ve had a lovely woman who came into to feed her and visit her on daily basis, but it still didn’t feel right. A part of me really believes that Calliope will be happier with a family that’s around pretty much full time.

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