A Miracle Story With My Cat Marmalade
My life took a dramatic and devastating turn at one point in Los Angeles, California. Like domino's, I lost my beautiful home, my business (which at one point had over 100 employees and a 12,500 square foot factory), my car, my friends, my family, my fortune and worst of all...my health. I have had chronic and severe migraine headaches for decades and they have really impacted every aspect of my life. They contributed to me having severe depression, anxiety and PTSD. So I needed to regroup and decided to move into the high desert country of New Mexico.
An evil landlord in New Mexico leased a home to my then business partner and I, that was located in a known (but unknown to us) flood zone (No wonder it was so affordable!) I had moved there from Los Angeles to be able to focus on my screenwriting career, now that my business career was over. I had worked in Film, Television, Commercials & Music Video's for many years as a Stage Manager and in locations. And I had co-produced and co-wrote a TV show for the SyFy Channel.
During the first big rain above the house we had rented, I walked through it watching the rain water coming from our gravel driveway and into our kitchen. I watched in disbelief as the master bedroom, sunk almost a foot into the ground. The wall separating at the foundation. You could see the ground outside. We called the the landlord's handyman, who admitted to us that the landlord knew about the floods and the foundation of the house being rotten from water damage, and that the foundation of the house needed to be entirely replaced. Which was never mentioned to us prior to our moving in.
When we complained to the landlord, he went completely ballistic. All 300 LBS. of him! He was a raging, bipolar, ex-meth addict, alcoholic with a penchant for guns. Now we had to vacate so that the house could be renovated. We had spent all of our savings to move to New Mexico, driving a 24 ft. Ryder Rental Truck filled with Hollywood memorabilia that we were planning to sell via mail order on the side, but now we were forced to leave all that behind in NM. Which the landlord misappropriated (aka stole.) He was eventually prosecuted by the local D.A.
During our tenure at the house in New Mexico, I had been feeding 7 or 8 local strays & feral cats that were part of a cat colony adjacent where we lived, of which the "King" was a scrawny, sick, mite infested, dirty, orange & white tabby cat that I named "Marmalade." I named all of the other cats too. There was: "Big Boy", "Figaro", "Tommy", "Tabby Hunter", "Mouse" and "Baby" the kitten. Next door a mean, new neighbor had moved in and took it upon themselves (without us knowing at first) to use a skunk trap to catch the local cats and take them "somewhere." Where? we did not know. After feeding the cat colony for 6 or 7 months, "Big Boy" and "Tommy" went missing, which was so sad. I was able to ask the neighbor to please stop trapping the cat's and they cooperated miraculously. But that danger always loomed over us. "Marmalade" could have been trapped and relocated at any time. My roommate did not want another cat in their life, so I could not bring Marmalade into the house overnight.
When I had to vacate the house, my partner bailed on me and moved back East. I could not take all of the cats with me, as they were way too wild and would have run away on the road, but Marmalade had the right temperament to make the trip back to L.A. with me, so I decided to take him with me.
Marmalade was nearly completely deaf and as I mentioned above, had chronic health problems (including choking & gagging when trying to eat for some unknown reason)( but antibiotics from the Vet helped.) When I took him to the local Vet in the Summer of 2016, the receptionist told me that the local stray and feral cats there "Have had a very tough life and it is always best to just put them down." This was before Marmalade had even been examined! I scoffed at the suggestion. The Vet believed that Marmalade was around 10 years old at the time, due to his teeth and gum issues. She prescribed him the antibiotic Convenia and it helped stop his choking & gagging, thank goodness. He would require it every 6 months for the next 3 years.
I knew Marmalade would not survive long, if I left him behind and did not look after him. Many people around me at the time in New Mexico (including strangers) and other friends, tried to encourage me not to take Marmalade with me (including my ex-partner), considering all of the dire circumstances and financial obstacles I was facing in my life at the time, and they tried to push me into giving Marmalade to a local cat rescue facility called "The Watermelon Ranch" before I departed New Mexico, but I refused.
I left New Mexico with a few pieces of luggage and a cat carrier with Marmalade. Zero money and no credit cards. And no transportation. We were truly homeless and flat broke with really no options. The weather was very cold in New Mexico at the time (January of 2017) and I got pneumonia from exposure.
Through a few loans from a couple of producers I knew, and some business consulting gigs, I was able to somehow pay for a motel room each night for 3 months (January 2017 to March 2017) while Marmalade and I were on the road back to L.A., 850 miles away. We would at times check into a motel and I would be locked out of the room each morning (it was like losing Marmalade again and again each day), while I had to try and raise funds to pay for another night's stay from the motel lobby, with Marmalade locked in the motel room without me. At any time I could have lost him through a maid cleaning the room or management taking him. But Marmalade motivated me to raise the funds needed for both of us in order to survive, just with his presence. I would raise the funds each day and be allowed back into our room late each afternoon, by some miracle. Marmalade would be so, so happy to see me. Laying on the big motel room bed purring away in gratitude and pure contentment. We had a running gag where I would hear him purr and say to him:
"We're in trouble! and you're purring!"
At times I would have bad migraines (the stress did not help) and be crouched next to a motel bed, vomiting, alone except for Marmalade. He would stay right there with me. He would always be within reach, without being too close. He would slowly and gently approach me when the migraines would lesson, it seemed in order for him to check on me and reassure me that he was still there. He would purr and I would pet him and let him know that I "was okay", and then he would go back to holding vigil over me on the motel room bed close by. Months later we would hold other health vigils over one another. Sometimes I for him and sometimes him for me. This little cat, my only trusted companion and real remaining family left in my life.
Imagine having migraine headaches that knocked you to your knees, that were so painful that if you lay down flat, they would only get worse, so you have to try and sleep on your knees. Then picture if you will, what it is like to be that incapacitated, and having the front desk of the motel repeatedly ringing the room phone or knocking on your door, asking for payment (that you don't have) or asking when you would be vacating the room you are trying to recover in?
We finally made our way back to California, but at the very end of our road trip, my funds eventually ran out, and Marmalade & I found ourselves literally on the street.
I had no money left for a motel room or food (including for Marmalade) at that point, there was no one that I could call to ask for help. A friend had said he could pick me up possibly the following night, and allow me to stay in his warehouse about 20 miles away for a time, but Marmalade & I were on our own for that night. So I would be sleeping in an alley or the bushes for the first time in my life. Something Marmalade had been accustomed to. We were both "strays" at that point.
Next to the parking lot of the Motel 6 that Marmalade and I had just vacated in Arcadia, California was a building that was closed most of the time, and another parking lot that was empty. Marmalade and I made our way into this parking lot, found a shade tree and sat down. Me with my few pieces of luggage, Marmalade in his cat carrier. With no place to go. "A man and his cat."
Next to that empty parking lot ran the L.A. River, a long concrete aqueduct that runs through much of Southern California straight to the ocean. A tall fence ran along the side of the concrete canal on both sides. As I was sitting there contemplating my limited options and fate (I was very, very close to commiting suicide), I noticed a torn hole in one part of the fence, at its bottom, that was right behind us. It was a nice neighborhood surrounding us, and I had no transportation to take Marmalade anywhere. We were stranded. So at that point, I thought (although I was not in my right mind at the time and was stricken with total hopelessness and despair) with the desperate position I was in, Marmalade might have a better chance to make friends with some of the locals vs. sticking with me. I did not want to take him to a local animal shelter, as they might put him down if he was not adopted, as he was a chronically ill senior. The thought of letting Marmalade go, broke my heart even further to pieces. He was my only true friend and family member left in my life at the time. I was seriously contemplating where I could take my own life in the vicinity afterwards. Just a shade tree to sit under and get it over with, without inconveniencing anyone by leaving a mess behind.
After some thought, I opened Marmalade's cat carrier and reluctantly took him out, petted him and placed him at the entrance of the fence and gently crying said to him (although he could barely hear me due to his being deaf):
"I have no money and no place to live buddy. I have no money to buy you food. You'd be better off on your own than with me. I'm so, so, so sorry. I love you. I'll miss you. Thank you for being in my life, for the time that you have been."
I put Marmalade at the torn entrance at the bottom of the fence and I let him go. I encouraged him by gently pushing him, to just walk away from me. He walked through the fence a few feet and gazed alone at the bank of the L.A. River in front of him. Which was hundreds and hundreds of feet long. Brush, trees and bushes lined the fence next to the canal. Marmalade was now "free" again, if he wanted to be. He was now completely out of my reach. I could not have gotten to him through the small fence opening if I wanted to.
Marmalade stared ahead of him, as if contemplating walking away, and then he slowly turned around and looked back up at me through the fence. Then he turned around and walked back through the fence opening and over to me, bumped into my legs and just sat down besides me, and then I knew we were meant to stay together and would do so through thick & thin. It was fate. It was meant to be. We were meant to be together and to stay together. I wept with joy as I petted and gently hugged the purr out of my boy. We were reunited!
So hours later as nightfall approached, Marmalade and I were sitting in that empty parking lot in Arcadia, California, me with my few pieces of luggage and Marmalade back in his cat carrier, just watching the sunset and everything around us was glowing a beautiful and enchanting orange (< like my Marmalade.) It was what they call "Magic Hour" in Hollywood, which is a very desirable time to shoot actors, as they all look good in that orange glow lighting. We felt grateful, blessed and content. Even though we were homeless, hungry and broke with nowhere to go.
A large peacock came slowly strolling up and past us. In Arcadia, Ca. they are allowed to roam free and have done so for many decades. Marmalade had never seen a peacock before. Again, we only felt grateful and felt blessed to see such wondrous sights, despite the circumstances. Marmalade & I still had each other. We were still together. Still alive. My compadre and me.
Suddenly, in the distance, a woman was walking down the sidewalk about 50 ft. away and began to look in our direction, and I was hesitant to wave to her as I thought:
"Don't wave at her, she may call the police. This is Arcadia. A nice neighborhood. And you are homeless."
But I was still in such a grateful and blessed mood, with Marmalade having returned back to me, that I went ahead and waved at the woman regardless. And she waved back.
As the woman walked down the sidewalk and got closer to Marmalade and I, she suddenly veered off of the sidewalk and made a beeline for me and Marmalade, across the empty parking lot. Which concerned me. Now mind you this was a large parking lot. She had to walk that 50 ft. to get to where we were sitting and I was a strange man, near a fairly secluded tree and bush lined area alone. I wondered what she was going to say? Soon she was standing over us and smiled gently and said:
"I don't know if you are spiritual or not? and this is going to sound really strange, but a voice just told me in my head 'Please help him. I love him so much.' "
And she then proceeded to hand me $120 in cash. I wept with relief. I could not thank her profusely enough. And she seemed equally moved and touched by the experience.
Marmalade and I checked back into the adjacent Motel 6 that night and had a good supper together. Then we slept like babies in the comfort of that room. The next day Marmalade and I took a train ( a first for Marmalade!) to the historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, and my friend picked us up. And that night we began staying in my friends warehouse loft, where we resided for 2 more (mostly wonderful) years together.
Step by step I began to rebuild my life, with Marmalade inspiring me with his loyalty, love, devotion, trust and companionship the entire way.
8 weeks ago this past Thursday, I felt I had to put Marmalade to sleep. He had succumbed to an injury, sustained in a vicious Tom-Cat fight, defending his girlfriend cat "Star", from a neighborhood bully cat named "Blackie", and the surgical operation Marmalade had to have, in order to address the wound, unfortunately lead to a stroke. Which contributed to Marmalade's ultimate decline. That story is told here on this forum:
Someone on the Reddit Pet Grief subthread that I shared this story with above, said they thought it might have been MARMALADE who whispered into that woman's ear that evening who helped us, whereas I always thought it might have been God...or a Guardian Angel. But I suppose Marmalade WAS my little Guardian Angel! : )
My lucky silver dollar..."Dat Ole' Marmalade."
This is my Marmalade, shown below, sitting next to a jar of Marmalade Jelly / Jam, in January of 2017. Note how frayed the sides of his ears are from the many Tom-Cat fights he had over the years, prior to my adopting him. He even had a hole in one of his ears that almost looked like a pierced ear, from a fang puncture. He was rough & tumble, but he was my sweet, kind & loving lad. He is about 10 years old in this photo. He lived for another 2 years 4 months approximately. He was put to sleep on May 16th, 2019.