Monday, March 5, 2007

Farewell, Mike

I met Mike through my cat. Of course. I had fallen in love with Ray from a picture on the FurryDance website. His name was Raisin, and I had just lost my old Burmese named Raisin, so I saw it as a sign. I filled out an application that would have gotten me into Harvard, had dozens of phone and email interviews with Teri, until finally she was reassured that I was the right person and agreed to send him to me, FedEx. I tracked Ray like a package as he flew all the way across the country to New York City.

Teri and Mike were living in Oregon then, and when I was out in the Northwest on business I made a detour to come see Ray’s “birth mother.” How would I recognize this woman I had only spoken to on the phone? Easy. She was sitting next to a vintage jag with a Cornish Rex on a leash. My kind of gal.

“I hope you don’t mind sharing a bed with 12 cats,” she said. To me, that was about the best offer I’d had in years. We drove to Teri’s little house where I got to meet the whole mishbucha. Ray’s mom, Bella. Teri’s very first Rex, Bo. Spot, Mike’s Turkish van. We talked endlessly about our cats. Is there anything more interesting? Then, when it was time to go to sleep, Teri insisted that I would be more comfortable in their bed and graciously took the hairball...I mean sofa...Mike said that he would sleep in the van because he was working the night shift and didn’t want to wake anyone when he came in.

Shall I underline this last sentence? That was my introduction to Mike.

Not long after, Teri and Mike packed up the cats and headed east, to just outside DC. This was great for me, because we could hook up at the cat show at Madison Square Garden, and I could act as tour guide during one of Teri’s shopping sprees at Christmas time. Now, being at a cat show with Mike was a special kind of treat. Sitting by the cages while he held court, patiently answering the same dumb questions over and over, pouring drinks, fetching hot dogs.

Away from the show ring we had some fabulous meals. Indian. Korean. Middle eastern. I loved showing Teri and Mike my favorite haunts because they got such a kick out of it, and I loved introducing them to my friends because we always had some off-the-wall conversation that sooner or later left everyone gasping for breath.

Yes, we had laughs. I remember Mike taking one look at Ray, the first time he came to my apartment in New York, and proclaiming, “He’s a horse!” This offended me mightily, which in turn delighted Mike. But when I decided on a whim to enter poor Ray in the Feline Agility competition at Madison Square Garden, Mike took me in hand, explaining everything—and tried his damnedest to keep a straight face while Ray sat in the middle of the ring and did NOTHING.

Lots of food, lots of laughs, what else is there? Well, there’s kindness, and integrity, and friendliness, and depth…

Right before I got that horrible shocking heart-breaking email, I had been thinking that I should get in touch with Teri and Mike and go down to Virginia and see them. They hadn’t come up to New York over the holidays, and the prospect of a house full of Rexes and two of my favorite people was tempting. And I was thinking then, too, how strange it is that you can have known someone for such a short time, and have seen them on so few occasions, and still feel such a real connection. It’s like what Spencer Tracy said about Katherine Hepburn in Pat and Mike: “Not much meat on her, but what's there is cherce.”

Mike was a uniquely beautiful and dear person. I will miss him.


  1. I remember the first time I met Mike and Teri - It was at the CFA Southern Regional Awards dinner in 2005, my first awards show. I had seen them at shows but never had the pleasure of actually getting to talk to them until that night.

    They came and sat down at the bar table with Judy Gunby and myself as we watched the band play. Mike and Teri started dancing and you could see the instant chemistry they had together. We shared a few drinks, talked about our love of cats and shared some great laughs.

    I got to know them better as the next season progressed and shared many a fun show with them. Mike was always the jokester and Teri always had a good cocktail ready to settle those show nerves =)

    They were always there with a smile on and giving a friendly reminder that shows should be FUN and they always made sure they were! Teri with her crazy cage decorations and Mike with his wry sense of humor.

    The 2006 Southern Regional CFA awards show rolled around again and we got to laugh over a few drinks and giggled at Mike's constant teasing remarks to everyone. There wasn't the band or the dancing floor that year but that same chemistry between Mike and Teri still shined.

    The current show season started up and I have been blessed to spend many more great moments with both these wonderful people.

    Who can forget their wonderful wedding outfits that they wore for the Hippy show held by Tropical Cats in August, Teri's hair flowers were perfect and those pants Mike wore were hysterical!

    They opened their home and generosity to me for the National Capital show, and I can't thank Mike enough for picking me up at the airport and missing his dinner as my flight was delayed getting in. Teri for making me feel like one of the family and to them both for providing a loving home to Billy Idol, a kitten I gave them that weekend.

    At the CFA International show in November 2006 we shared a room, a wonderful dinner and enthusiasm over our wins together. Mike and Teri kindly helped me transport and show my kitten on Friday as I could not fly in until later that night. The dinner on Sat night was amazing and I could not have spent the evening with better friends.

    Now, as the show season comes close to an end and the award shows will be upon us again in June, I know that something is going to be missing. I won't get to see Mike peeking around the corning making faces and causing giggles while the ceremony is taking place. I won't get to see Teri and Mike cutting a rug on the dance floor together, I won't get to share in a congradulatory drink with Mike while he finds something wry and witty to say.

    Thinking about this brings me to tears as Mike and Teri have become a part of that wonderful time of year for me when we all get together to celebrate our cats and the love we share for them. It's just not going to be the same without Mike there. I'm sure many feel the same way.

    So Mike, I just want you to know that this year, at the awards ceremonies, if you happen to be peeking around the clouds to spy in on our event and see me raise my glass mid-presentation and utter a silent salute, it's going out to you my dear friend.

    May you rest in Peace and know that you were so very much loved by so many who's lives you touched through out your many wonderful years of life.

    I am always going to miss you!

    With Love,

    Cyndee Gause
    PinUpCats Sphynx

  2. In the couple of years that I have known Teri, I only met Mike about 3 times. I have seen Teri a lot more since I took my kitty to the cat clinic where she works. Teri and I have also had many conversations about my kitty and the latest with her kitties.

    When I did see Mike, I noticed was that he so perfectly complimented Teri! Mike's humor always brought a smile or laugh to Teri. Sometimes when you come to someone's house you feel like you are intruding or inconveniencing someone. When I was in the process of adopting Sprice from Teri, Mike was as welcoming as an old friend that you might have known for years! I fould him to be a very kind person! During cat shows he had patience as well as a smile for the people that walked by to ask about their kitties. Tensions run high at cat shows and not all cats in displays had such welcoming owners. My heart goes out to Teri as she goes through this loss!

    Lisa Schumann

  3. This is a lovely tribute. Thank you for this. While we never met Mike in person, we have 2 FurryDance cats - Edward & Billy. I felt as if I knew Mike from my adoption conversations with Teri - however - this beautiful post creates a vivid picture. Even better than the photo we have of Mike & Disco sitting on their sofa, with a Diet Pepsi alongside...