Our Bennie cat, a feral we took in last summer. We had to put him down two weeks ago. He had a brain tumor.
Sunday at the beach (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)
Do you love Sundays?
I used to love Sundays.
Sundays were always special for me and my husband. When we first started dating, we’d spend many Sundays down the shore. On our drive down, we listened to our favorite radio show, The Glen Jones Radio Program, Featuring X-Ray Burns. (http://www.wfmu.org/Playlists/GJ/archives.html)
Jones has eclectic tastes in music. You could hear both Frank Sinatra and The Psychedelic Furs in the same set. Then there was the talk segment where Jones and Burns would muse about New Jersey subculture like our local drinking joints and pork roll (or Taylor Ham)? In fact, one time at one of their lives shows, Jones chased me trying to feed me a pork roll (or Taylor Ham) sandwich. (And I’m a vegetarian). That’s the kind of fun this freeform radio show offered. No wonder it was part of our Sunday routine.
Once we got down the shore, on a Sunday, we’d often pay a surprise visit to our dear friends Daniel and Patty Popp. Very special friends; they were our witnesses when we eloped. At the Popp’s home, they couldn’t do enough for you. With Daniel being both a cook and a musician, there was always plenty of food and music in their home—a great place to be on a Sunday.
In more recent years, my husband and I started spending more of our Sundays at home, relaxing in the backyard. Last summer, a beautiful feral cat started showing up in our backyard. We named him Bennie. He was so friendly, we fell in love with him. According to the vet, Bennie had FIV, a feline auto-immune disorder, which meant if he got sick, it would be tougher for him to get over it. But we took him in anyway and gave him a happy home. He was only 3-years-old. He was a ginger cat, sunny and bright; our Sunday cat.
They say death comes in threes. Beginning on February 1, our Sunday memories were taken from us, one by one.
Daniel Popp was in his kitchen and just finished cooking food for the homeless, something he did each month. His wife Patty found him lying on the kitchen floor unconscious. He was taken to the hospital and passed. Daniel was a genuine, good-hearted person, who was so talented and so much fun. We were shocked. Absolutely shocked. Not a dry eye at his funeral. And miss him terribly. RIP Daniel Popp.
Sunday will never be the same.
The day after Daniel’s funeral, our kitty Bennie’s health declined rapidly. We had been treating him for an eye infection—or so we thought. He was eating, but not processing the food. He was losing weight quickly and also started having tremors. An emergency trip to the animal hospital and two vet visits later, we learned he had a brain tumor and didn’t stand a chance. Even though Bennie was a little fighter, we still had to put him down—the day after Valentine’s Day, ironically because Bennie was a saint, the best cat I ever had. After we put him down, my legs buckled, and I collapsed into my husband’s arms. We loved him so much. RIP Bennie.
Sunday will never be the same.
The following Sunday, my husband and I were done. Spent. No ambition or desire to do a damn thing. But I had to get groceries. I hopped in the car and as I always do on Sunday, turned on the radio. Glen Jones was playing very sad music. During the first break, X-Ray Burns wasn’t with him to banter. Jones made an announcement that X-Ray Burns was struggling with lung cancer.
Tears started pouring down my eyes.
Jones played some more sad songs, then he came back on to say that X-Ray’s wife called him. X-Ray Burns had passed—and it wasn’t a joke.
My husband and I were already zombies to begin with, and now shared more tears together. Rest in Peace X-Ray Burns.
Sunday will never be the same.
Three lives taken from us, way too soon. Daniel Popp and X-Ray Burns were in their 50s. And Bennie was only 3.
But I’ve learned something from all of them. Daniel taught me to reach out to others. Bennie taught me to keep fighting no matter what life’s circumstances. And X-Ray taught me to stay fun and crazy because life is way too short. And with a blink of an eye, it will never be the same.
Daniel Popp, Rest in Peace (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)
Bennie Cat, Rest in Peace
X-Ray Burns, Rest in Peace
(Left to right, X-Ray Burns, Glen Jones, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)
Sunday will never be the same.
Bennie Grover Hemmingway
Earlier today we had to put down our sweet Bennie cat.
He was a feral who started showing up at our doorstep last August. My husband and I fed him. He was enticed by the food, but more so, the pets we’d give him. It seemed he was more starved for love than for food! He’d take a few bites, but then put his head up to be pet. Of course we fell in love.
One day he wasn’t around. I called, “Bennie!” He knew his name and ran through the grass like a gazelle! He had such a personality.
Before we took him in, we got him checked out by a vet and learned he had FIV, a feline auto-immune disorder. We wanted him anyway. We knew with FIV, he’d come with health problems, but we didn’t realize it would be so soon. He was only 3-years-old.
When he was officially inside, he loved it! He did this cute thing we called “Happy Paws.” He’d purr very loud and wiggle his paws. Sometimes he’d lie on his back with his happy paws up in the air. And he was so cute when he cocked his head to the side, like a puppy would do!
Bennie was a lazy cat. He loved to lay around and be pet constantly. He really liked butt rubs. And he loved music. I’m not a singer, but I’d sing to him and he’d stand up and look right at me, as if he was giving me a standing ovation! Even if I had a punk rock band, like The Dickies on the CD player, he’d sit right in front of the speaker and listen.
We only had him five months. He had brain cancer. And he was a little fighter too. He was determined to make a go of it, but unfortunately worse came to worse and the sad day had come. I collapsed in my husband’s arms. We were both devastated.
Our vet said Bennie knew he was sick and he came to us to give him a good home before he passed. I know we did! And I’ll miss those purrs and that beautiful face.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” –Anatole France
Happy Valentine’s Day from Nicholas Gray
Can’t get enough of cats? Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “Love Cats” an erotic chick flick novel set in the 1980s. He loves cats; she hates them! Will this couple survive? Find out and order “Love Cats” — available in both paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Cats-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta/dp/1681020513
Nicholas Gray and Maryanne
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France.
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “Love Cats” available on Amazon in paperback and kindle editions: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Cats-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta/dp/1681020513
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, left; and Fran Larkey, right
Thanks so much to Fran Larkey and the Caldwell Library for hosting my book reading/signing for my second book, “Love Cats” — available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions at: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Cats-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta/dp/1681020513
Portions of today’s sales will benefit Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on behalf of my non-profit animal rights organization, R.O.A.R. (Respect Our Animals’ Rights). Follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/respectouranimalsrights/
For so many people, putting “Best” and “2016” together is definitely an oxymoron, and in my world it’s no different. Personally, it was a bad year with many losses and tears. It all began with the death of David Bowie (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/rest-in-peace-to-the-prettiest-star-david-bowie/) Then my favorite cat of all time had to be put to sleep, at the age of 19 (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/rest-in-peace-derick-mommys-little-heart-6-24-96-to-4-29-16/). And finally, we said good-bye to my beloved father-in-law who passed at the age of 94 a few months ago (http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=181972211).
It was just one of those years where the “hits” just kept on coming and there’s not enough hours in the day for me to write about all of them.
Since I really don’t like to focus on negativity, let’s just say, THANK GOD for music; it’s what makes the world go ’round, and a salvation to many. Like every other year, 2016 was no worse in the music department. There were so many live performances my husband and I attended this year, including a few of his own with Rob Fusari and Pharoah. And my “Learn + Listen” series which made the cover of the Caldwell News: http://www.mypaperonline.com/library-patrons-learn-and-listen-about-famous-musicians.html
Lucky me, I also was blessed to write about many performances for various publications.
Whether it was outdoor concerts, or indoor venues, there was not one bad show in the lot. It’s always so hard to pick a “favorite” but as every music fan knows, there are those songs and moments that keep popping into your head, days, even weeks, after the show is over. To any musician who is reading, whether you’re mentioned here or not, if I approached you after a show, I sincerely loved your act.
That said, in my humble opinion, I’d like to present what I felt was the best on my radar this year. ENJOY!
BEST SONG/VIDEO – ROB FUSARI “Let Love Down”
TOP THREE LIVE PERFORMANCES
1 – ROB FUSARI – The Bitter End, NYC, May 24, 2016
(“Your Trap” featuring Andrea Martin, Matt, Mario, Dennis, and The Constellations)
2 – SOUND + VISION: THE MUSIC OF DAVID BOWIE (Musical Direction: RICHARD BARONE) – Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair, NJ, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016
(“Fame” featuring Richard Barone, Jeffrey Gaines, Burnt Sugar Arkestra, Nick Celeste. In other outstanding performances: Wesley Stace and Elvis Perkins)
3 – PUNKY MEADOWS + FALLEN ANGEL BAND – B.B. Kings, NYC, June 14, 2016
(“The Tower” featuring Punky Meadows, Danny Anniello, Chandler Mogel,
“She Makes Me Laugh” from The Monkees “Good Times”
BEST VINYL – JACK WHITE “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”
How cool to hear this on a record player!
BEST MUSIC MOVIE – “LET ME DOWN HARD”
Starring Keith Roth, DJ 95.9 The Rat “Electric Ballroom,” performs with Frankenstein 3000 and David Johansen; songwriter for Punky Meadows and so much more!
BEST MUSIC BOOK – CARMINE APPICE “STICK IT!”
Honest; and in a strange way, endearing! Loved it!
And, again, because some things have to be said more than once, in my own little world, quite a few super cool things happened to ease the pain of the sadness, like going to see so much live music, being around amazing people, being able to write for a living — and public speaking (which includes music and health programs!) Not to mention, my incredible husband who is my rock through all the hardships and triumphs. All in all, there were two stand-outs that made this year incredible.
First I got a new kitty, Nicholas Gray; my husband and I adore our new snuggle bun! How can you not?
And, thanks to Ashley Valentin-Patino, I became a professional wedding officiant, and will be marrying many more people in 2017! Speaking of “bests” Ashley’s wedding to Mitchell was not only the best of 2016, but aside from my own, I’d say the best wedding of all time!
May 2017 will bring more love, music, and happiness to the world! Grim Reaper — be gone with you!
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta and Ashley Valentin-Patino
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist, available on Amazon in paperback only: https://www.amazon.com/Guest-List-Adventures-Music-Journalist/dp/162903908X
To contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, write her at: email@example.com