Wednesday, January 19, 2011

old movie stars

I made it home safe and sound from my trip last week that involved airplanes. Lots of praying and holding tight to my cross, and reading a fabulous book to take my mind off my fears. Everything was fine, and I am happy to be back home again. 

Dora spent the week in Ohio with my dad and stepmother. I never like the way this house feels without her in it, but we made the best of our time without her. We finished up projects around the house, got her room totally reorganized (finally), and went to a movie. After much debate we saw True Grit. Being the Coen Brothers/Jeff Bridges fans that we are, we both wanted to see it. But, I saw the John Wayne version as a kid, so I was apprehensive about that final scene with the horse. I remember sitting on the faded tan cordoroy couch in my parents' living room, shocked and crying about what happened. My apprehension about the final scene was over me like a cloud in the theater, and at the end when it came I was just as upset as I had been all those years ago. To me that has to be one of the saddest scenes involving an animal in a movie ever made. It just breaks me heart. 

I've always been an animal lover, and I can hardly bear to see one hurt in a movie, even knowing all the rules and regulations in place to protect them during filming. I read that the rules about the equine actors used in True Grit were more explicit and rigid than the rules governing the 13-year-old human actress. In the river crossing scene, the water had to be a certain temperature for the horses, whereas there was no mention of a required temperature for the humans. Nonetheless, I am always tender-hearted when it comes to animals in film. 

In the ladies room after the movie, I was not the only one wiping my eyes. For many of us, animals are a connection, a place of common understanding to which nearly all humans can relate. Sure, there are a few non-animal people out there, but most of us understand the way a cat or dog curls its way into your heart and home, staking out a permanent place of honor at the foot of your bed, on the back of the couch, or on your hearth. 

At Christmas, we adopted a cat from home, a beautiful, long-haired, black and white Maine Coon named Hedy. She had been given to me by my friend Maria years ago, but soon after she walked into my life she adopted my mother as her favorite human. She was definitely my mother's cat. She was a wonderful companion to her, sleeping on her bed, following her into the bathroom, kneading and purring incessantly. When my mom died, Hedy was sleeping on the bed next to her, curled up beside her like she always was, waiting for my mom's hand to stroke her black fur. 

Now that this old movie star is living with us, she sleeps on our bed, purring incessantly, kneading and drooling, happy to be with us. She's as beautiful as she ever was, happily waiting for the next opportunity for someone to pet her. Beyond just enjoying her company and her perfectly symmetrical markings and her stunningly long whiskers, my home and my heart are warmed by her presence because of the connection to my mother that she represents. There is something so comforting about running my hands over Hedy's beautiful black fur, knowing my mother did the same thing not so long ago. I hope Hedy feels that connection, too, a little spark of familiarity, a little bit of extra warmth from a hand that feels just a little bit like one she used to know and love.

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