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A Personal Blog Today….

Oct 15

In Friends at 8:13am

No speed light stuff today. Apologies….

About a dozen years ago my wife Annie made a pretty courageous leap of life and changed everything, all at once. What does one do when you shuck off all that is familiar, and move to a new and strange set of walls, have no money and a couple of sticks of furniture?

Well, when you take a chance like that, and rescue yourself, sometimes, you reach out at the same time and rescue others. So Annie the animal lover packed herself off to the shelter, and thought she had decided to take home a little black ball of fur when, out of the same tiny fur ball, another head popped out. Brothers. She took ‘em both.

Formula One fan that she is, one became Nigel, after Nigel Mansell, and the other Arie, after Arie Luyendyk, both legendary drivers. The three of them made a home, and a life together.

And then I showed up on the doorstep, courting Annie. Trying desperately to impress, I did all the usual guy stuff. Calls, dinners, movies, walks and talks. Flowers. First time I sent roses, I called the local shop, and made the order, and when I gave the address, the smart guy who took the call said, “Oh yeah, yeah, I know that place. We’ve delivered out there before! Lots!”

I was left of course to, uh, clear my throat, and say something diplomatic, like, “Yes, well, of course. I’m sure the lady in question is not without her admirers.” I think the shop is called Wise Ass Florist.

In the midst of all my desperate attempts to be noticed by this lovely lady, I wasn’t completely aware that my activities were being measured and judged by another. A sage and protective guardian–Nigel.

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See, Annie trusted Nigel’s instincts so thoroughly that if he didn’t like you, you were toast. She placed a lot of faith in Nigel’s ability to size up a guy’s intentions and character, and in fact, if Nigel squinted hard at you, and slunk upstairs, you might be in for some tough sledding.

Thankfully, Nigel and I had it going on right from the first, probably ‘cause we’re pretty similar. Couple of goofball lugs, very motivated by the phrase, “What’s for dinner?” He did look at me hard, though, at first. Looked at me, looked over at Annie, and then back at me. And then let me know the deal, in his way. It was like, okay pal, you have my permission, but if you ever don’t treat her right, it’s between you and me, understand? And it’s been our understanding ever since.

We’ve watched a lot of TV together-he likes NCIS. There’ve been mornings when he would help me out by walking over my keyboard and sending email. Other mornings when Annie’s on the road and I’m sacked out, tapping my forehead gently with his paw to remind me it was past breakfast. Keeping me company on one of his favorite perches–our flatbed scanner. (Drives folks in the office a bit nuts, having a scanner full of cat hair.)

He was pretty good with small flash, too. He really got into the Strobist series.

picture-2

I’m struggling writing this, mostly with the sense of tense. I’m trying to describe this stuff in lighthearted fashion, as if it’s still going on. It’s not. It’s going to be hard thinking about Nigel in the past tense.

A little while back, seeing Nigel not be his usual, gregarious self, Annie took him to the vet. The diagnosis was Hemangiosarcoma, among the most aggressive and deadliest of cancers. He had been dealt a tough hand of cards. It mostly strikes dogs, rarely cats, which confirms my suspicion he was, indeed, part pooch. (How does that happen? How does a few bastard rogue cells completely snuff an ebullient little life force like Nigel in 3 short weeks?) He retreated into dark places, under beds and into cabinets. We did our best to make him feel comfortable. He knew what was up. The wisdom in those eyes of his spoke volumes, right to the last.

Now he’s gone. He’s in the ground, with a small marker. I put roses on his grave. I have to figure they were his favorite ‘cause whenever I gave them to Annie, he would try to eat them.

I’m writing this, knowing I can’t read it to him, the way I would occasionally read to him about the Yankees or the Knicks from the morning news feed. But I think we had a good last conversation. Told him I was sorry about trying to teach him to be a VAL. I thought that little speed light harness thing was gonna work:-) Of course, he quickly let me know he was more suited to the director’s chair than to grip work.

Thanks, bud. Thanks for watching over Annie. Thanks for letting me in the house. Thanks for occasionally letting me use my pillow.

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Just, you know, thanks…..and Godspeed…I’ll see you on the other side. More tk….

337 Responses to “A Personal Blog Today….”

Frank F. says:

on October 15, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hi Annie and Joe,

The best of luck in the coming time. It’s unbelievable how much you can love an animal. They just feel it when your down, they listen when you need to be heard and they hug you when you need it.

Verino Popovic says:

on October 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

So sorry for you loss. =(

Gary F says:

on October 15, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Sounds like a lot of love, between souls who rescued each other. Hope you can find it in your heart to rescue another soul someday. Sorry that your pal had to leave so soon.

Pat Delany says:

on October 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Joe,

I am deeply and truly saddened by the news of Nigel’s passing. Please extend my condolences to Annie. I had the privilege of meeting her at LRP over Labor Day weekend and even asked asked after Nigel. I understand your loss. We have three furballs of our own, Slinky, Harley, and Buzz. Regrettably Slinky is in the twilight of her years and according to the vet, it only a matter of months. I dread the inevitable. It seems silly that these little bundles of fur can embed themselves so deeply into our hearts, yet I’m glad they can. I don’t think anyone can really understand what it means to be accepted by a cat. It’s a special thing, different from dogs and other pets. I hope your hearts heal buoyed by the fond memories of a being as special as Nigel. God’s speed to him.

Warmest regards,
Pat

Craig Brandt says:

on October 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Joe,

Been a fan of yours for several years now and can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from you and your writings on your blog. But that’s not the issue here…. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know what you are going through. My wife and I have had Great Danes for years. The sad part about these dogs is that you only get about 7 to 8 years with them, and then they’re gone. They are our kids, and every time we have lost a pair it’s devastating. So sorry for your loss of Nigel. I know there’s nothing anyone can say so I won’t try. Just remember that Nigel will never leave your heart and because of that he’ll always be with you in some way…. Take care and best wishes during this difficult time.

Craig

Gary says:

on October 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Sorry to hear about Nigel. I am glad all of you got to have some time together. I live with a Vet Tech and she takes in all of the strays, including me. God Bless you and your family Joe and bless Nigel where ever he may be.

Gary

Paul Evans says:

on October 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Sorry for your loss Annie & Joe

Lyn Rees says:

on October 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm

So sorry Joe. Really is losing one of the family.

Jack McGinnis says:

on October 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Heartfelt Joe, I’m sure Nigel was lucky to have you in his life. My best to you and Annie.

Morgana says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like to lose a furry member of the family. :(

Polgara says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Really sorry for your loss. No words to make it better. You have some wonderful memories of him

PatC says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm

So sorry, Joe and Annie. Your broken hearts will mend, but your memories of Nigel will live forever. Thanks for sharing such a touching eulogy.

Jeff Raterink says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Joe,

Sad to hear about Nigel’s passing. Loved watching him add his personal touch to some of your videos. I lost my dear friend Morph this summer. Balled like a schoolboy who had his knees scraped up. I used him for a bunch of impromptu lens/flash tests. It always hurts to see your friends go…

Bob_VA says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Often this appears to comfort the loss of a dog . . . but I know it equally applies to those of the feline persuasion who entered and enriched out lives.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Edward says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Joe and Annie, I am very sorry to hear about Nigel. I have a similar story about meeting my Wife and a little white and brown short hair named Gizmo, so your post strikes a particularly strong chord with me. It still amazes me, how someone so small can make such a big difference in our lives. Thank you for sharing him, and his antics with us on this blog. I can’t look at long stemmed glasses without smiling.
Cheers Nigel

Carl Cox says:

on October 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I’m sorry for your and Annie’s loss Joe. My cat was eighteen years old when he passed. That was six years ago and I still miss that cool kitty.

Gregg says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I don’t know where I found this quote but I think it seems up feelings at a time like this pretty well.

‎”The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to them alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost”.

So sorry to hear of your loss, may time heal your hearts with loving and wonderful memories of your beloved friend and companion.

Jack Rea says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Annie and Joe
I am sorry for your loss. I wish there was something one could say when we lose one of our furry pals, Nigel will be missed and will never be replaced. Thankfully you will always have your memories of him. It is hard I know I lost my Golden a short while ago, Thankfully there are the memories and photos.

Valerie Gossert says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Joe and Annie, I’m so very sorry for your loss. I hurt right along with you and share your pain. It’s incredibly hard to lose one of our furbabies, especially to something as ugly as cancer. I know! It’s been 2 years since we lost our sheltie, Sera to cancer. It’s amazing, though, how they teach us and watch out for us right up to their last breath. I’m sure that Nigel was courageous, strong and had dignity during his battle, as did our Sera. I truly believe that God loves all His creation and one day, we WILL see them again.

Rick Lewis says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Joe,

We lost little Sophie this year to lung cancer. We were blessed with eight years of her company and in many ways she could have been Nigel’s sister. I still find it hard to talk about and hard to believe I took it so hard.

Your words were very eloquent and I know very difficult to write. I’m glad you shared with us though. We’ll say a prayer for little Nigel tonight; may he rest in peace.

God bless,
Rick & Linda

Ken says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I’m certainly familiar with how “pets” become much more — how they become an integral part of our families. I’m sorry for your loss. And I hope you also realize just how wonderful a life Nigel must have had. He will be patiently waiting for you on the other side. My best.

Tracy B says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Your post today was so appropriate for me today.

Yesterday we said goodbye to Go, one special ferret. He is an inspiration to all. He had an accident in June that initially left him paralyzed but he got through it. He did so with tenacity and perseverance. When he got cancer, he took his medicine better than any ferret before him. He always fought the good fight, including in play. How they pull at our heartstrings, You can not tell me God didn’t put a soul in those animals and that He has a special place for them when they are done touching our lives on this earth.

I wish you and Annie the best as you adjust to his departure from your earthly lives, but believe he will still be listening to you for the rest of your days.

Simon says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I’m really sorry to hear of your loss.

Animals to many of us make as big an impact when they go as do people – sometimes even bigger. The great memories you have, both photographic & mental, now take on a whole new meaning and a whole new level of preciousness. I recently lost my best friend from the animal kingdom quite suddenly & unexpectantly due to another extremely rare ‘rogue bastard cells’ type situation… writing this short comment to you stirs up a multitude of emotions than it maybe should but hey, I loved her very much.

Godspeed to Nigel.

BIgness says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Joe,
Very sorry for you and Annie’s loss. One of the horrible things about blogs is we become part of a virtual “family” and I’ve always enjoyed the blogs and videos of Nigel-and I am not a cat person. His sheer size was surely all heart and brains and you’ve brought us all many many happy times with your stories of Nigel.

Now we must all mourn a little as well I guess. Hang in there. Everyday it will get just a tiny bit easier. Feel for you, really do.

joe says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Condolences :-(

Michael Zdanis says:

on October 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Buried a bunch of animal friends … from cats and dogs to horses. It is all part of life, but never, ever easy. Best wishes at a hard time. They truly can be your best friends.

neil rasnick says:

on October 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

via con dios nigel

Jim White says:

on October 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Sorry for your loss Joe. I’ll never forget the day I agreed to let my wife bring home two kittens, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Fifteen glorious years we shared with them and then they were gone. Sorry for your loss . . God Bless you and Annie

kathyt says:

on October 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm

So sorry for your loss — my heart goes out to you and Annie. It is so hard to lose one that spends their whole life just loving you.

I have always enjoyed the stories and pictures about Nigel.

James B. says:

on October 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I’m very sorry for your loss, Joe.

On another note, I find it interesting how many women use their cats to gauge potential suitors.

Al says:

on October 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Sorry, man.

Paul Glover says:

on October 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm

So very sorry for your loss. As a fellow cat-servant I know how close one can become to them. Our Chester is reminding me how important he is to us by sitting purring on my left arm while I type this around him.

Andreas says:

on October 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Sorry for your loss, Joe you’re a terrific writer. You made it very enjoyable to read a sad story.

Omar says:

on October 15, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Hi Joe,
I’m so sorry for your loss. The 19Lb cat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s8I1DCokgw, we will remember him with love, RIP Nigel.

By the way, I want a NatGeo’s Shirt autographed by yourself.!
What I need to do?

Scott says:

on October 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm

We recently had to put our ferret (Snoopy) to sleep. For such a small and mostly voiceless little guy, he was a great teacher about remembering to play. A sweet and gentle soul if there ever were one. He was my buddy. And even my wife, who didn’t care too much for ferrets, came to love him with a big place in her heart. He just had that effect on everyone who met him. Changing their minds about this animal they didn’t know too much about. With me through good and bad. Always ready for a good game of chase and be chased. I wouldn’t have thought for a moment, when he came into my life rather unexpectedly, that he would leave such a huge hole, when he left it. Kinda hits you like a ton of bricks. Cancer sucks.

Losing a part of your family is never easy. Condolences to you and Annie.

Scott

Linda Jeffers says:

on October 16, 2010 at 12:21 am

Condolences to you and Annie for the loss of your kitty. Just loved what you wrote about Nigel. What a writer you are.

Fausto says:

on October 16, 2010 at 1:10 am

Joe
As usual, your more personal posts knock me back on my heels. I’m so sorry about yours and Annie’s beloved Nigel. My hope is that your pain does not last long, but his memory will be with you a very long time.

William says:

on October 16, 2010 at 1:41 am

My beautiful furry friend lost her life prematurely this year. The world is a lonelier place.
Who’s going to sit on my keyboard now?
Sorry to hear, Joe.

Deb Young says:

on October 16, 2010 at 3:39 am

Joe
So sorry to hear of your loss – spotted Nigel a few times on your vids & when I knew you were a cat lover you instantly went up in my estimation! Shed a few tears whilst reading this!
Condolences to Annie too – both my cats were ‘rescue’ cats – sadly lost one on the road 10 years ago – I was devastated. Wiz, the remaining one is now 16 and although a bit arthritic manages ok, though I know I’ll be a mess when he goes.

God bless Nigel

SteveW says:

on October 16, 2010 at 3:44 am

Whew.

Love your blog because you write from the heart.
Today was no different except you ramped it up a heap.

Condolences.

Martin Jensen says:

on October 16, 2010 at 4:13 am

Sorry for the lost!!
Beautifull written!!

Lasse says:

on October 16, 2010 at 5:01 am

Annie and Joe, I’m really sorry for your loss. I can not imagine a cat having had a better home.

//Lasse

Kevin Blackburn says:

on October 16, 2010 at 5:07 am

Sorry for your loss my friend just did it with my Basset Hound Missy after 13yrs know how you feel.

You and family are in my prayers

Kevin

xuke says:

on October 16, 2010 at 5:13 am

Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too -

Bob M. Montgomery says:

on October 16, 2010 at 6:10 am

Joe,

As always, your way with words is just right. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your pal, your compatriot and your keeper, as well as Annie’s guardian, of course. We have a black bundle of fur who looks remarkably like NIgel and seems to exhibit many of the same personality traits.

All the best, sir. I’m sure Nigel would appreciate the thoughts, but he’s probably busy asking whoever’s guarding the animal pearly gates, “what’s for dinner?”

Bob

Steve says:

on October 16, 2010 at 6:46 am

Moving… words can hardly express my feelings reading the post

My condolences

KenG says:

on October 16, 2010 at 7:26 am

So very, very sorry for your family’s loss. I went through a similar period in June when I lost my beloved dog, Pixel. Perhaps Pixel can show Nigel around in his new home.

It gets easier, but it takes time.
Be well..

Skip Barber says:

on October 16, 2010 at 7:26 am

Joe,

Terribly sorry for your loss.

Skip

Dick Wood says:

on October 16, 2010 at 7:42 am

Joe:

I know how you feel, I roo had a close friend Juliette, and mutt of the first class. She was such a dear friend. We lost her 3 years ago, and remember her almost every day.

But remember all the love Nigel gave to all of you. God speed Nigel

Mark Coffey says:

on October 16, 2010 at 8:11 am

This post really hit home. We have just lost our Echo, weeping I am reminded of how deep the wounds can be.

http://markcoffey.ca/blog/uncategorized/a-big-loss/

Thank you for your heartfelt post.

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