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Writing

Who are these “feral cats” I am always talking about!

memoir writing seriesThose of you who are new to my page I think I will enlighten you to these cats.  I have 5 amazing women who were my first graduating class here in the desert.  They came together 6 years ago and I would have never (even in my wildest dreams!) imagined they would still be together!

These women have been my backbone and support of my classes and of me!  I asked Pat if she would share again the speech she gave at their graduation and I am happy to say it is also included in my tribute book that they presented to me at my luncheon this month.

Here you go…meet the feral cats!

 

Cat “Tales”

At first, we crept in on little cat’s paws. Apprehensive. Quiet. Wary. We tiptoed into class to avoid detection for fear we might have to read something we had written! What would happen if we cried, if walls came down, if emotions were unleashed, if secrets were told? Despite our fears, we craved this class like cat nip. I think fate brought us together. The process of excavating our past was difficult, but doing so unearthed prized relics. We found our voices, we found each other, and we found Tammy.

When Tammy was a little girl, she corralled stray cats at her grandpa’s farm and placed them under the protection of the family dog. She called herself The Cat Herder. When she met us, her first class, her childhood moniker took on a symbolic meaning. She coaxed us out of our hiding places and delivered us to a safe place. After wrestling with the complexities of our lives, we mustered the courage to tell our stories. We are no longer shy kittens. We are roaring lionesses. Tammy calls us The Feral Cats–wild, unruly, hard to handle– but easy to love.

Joan is our Honey Bear Cat. If you are looking for one “honey” of a cat, the Honey Bear is about as close as you can come to purr-fection. Honey Bears are an adorable, funny, affectionate cat, with a little skunk bred into them. They are known for their very sweet dispositions. Despite loss and sadness in her youth, she triumphed. This woman has gumption to spare. She had a good marriage and great kids. She had an exemplary career in service to others, winning accolades from the United Nations. Like the skunk, Joan has a rebellious streak– known to wear flamboyant red dresses when she might have chosen beige. Her wicked stepmother once said to her, “still waters run deep”. Later, Joan added—“and dirty”. That’s our Honey Bear, very deep and just a little dirty!

Sandra is our Siamese. The Siamese cat has sleek lines, striking color, and finely chiseled aristocratic heads. They are an intelligent, inquisitive breed with legendary voices. So, too, is Sandra’s voice—deep and seductive. She trained to be a nurse; earned advanced degrees, practiced and taught nursing, traveled extensively, ran businesses, married and had two daughters. She writes beautiful letters to her granddaughter, which will be part of a phenomenal memoir someday. Despite hardships, she is as solid as they come. She is our rock, the pragmatist of the group. Call Sandra at 1- 800-Cat-Talk to hear her purr.

Lorie is our Russian Blue. The Blue is a gentle, affectionate and unassuming cat with a lovely disposition. Blues can entertain themselves all day long if left alone. Lorie did just that on a cruise recently. She attended an auction and hoisted her paddle upward outbidding others for a valuable painting and an expensive ring, unbeknown to her husband. If they ever auction off the cute Italian crew, watch out! Although her early years were difficult, she persevered. She married, had three great kids, enjoyed a successful career in Human Resources, and traveled the globe, even surviving a horrific plane crash. She was a pivotal member in her son’s uber-successful software company. Lorie, our Russian Blue, is a miracle of a woman.

Sally is our Abyssinian. Abys are one of the most intelligent and loyal animals ever created. They are people-oriented, but not lap cats. They are a cat that likes to be with people, wants to know what you are doing—and wants to help. Abyssinians resemble ancient Egyptian cats, elegant felines with muscular bodies and beautiful arched necks. If you’ve seen Sally’s picture in the newspaper, you know what I mean. She has a graceful athletic body and a calm determination about her. She runs marathons, was a star basketball player and the first college graduate in her family, even earning a Master’s degree. She had two dynamic careers, one in merchandising and the other in healthcare. Despite some knockdowns, she picked herself up and launched a successful real estate career. She is also a Master Gardener, writing and lecturing in the field. Sally, our Abyssinian, is a woman of true grit.

 

Pat is our British Shorthair. This breed traces its ancestry back to the domestic cat of Rome. Since she is of Italian heritage, this breed fits her to a tee. Brits are valued for their calm demeanor, endurance and loyalty. They have an easy-going nature, keen intelligence and are in quiet control of their environment. A larger cat that prefers to be on the ground, Brits are not known for their speed or their acrobatics. They sometimes display Cheshire cat grins. Like the British shorthair, she is a large cat (it’s in the Italian genes); she doesn’t like high speed thrills or roller coasters, needs to be in control somewhat, has a good brain and likes to laugh a lot. Pat grew up on the East Coast, married later in life, had a career in Human Resources, and considers her friends to be her greatest gift. She is a woman with few regrets.

Tammy is our Persian Cat. Persians have long flowing coats and open pansy-like faces. Their sweet, gentle personalities blend into most households once they are secure in their environment. Their quiet, melodious voices are pleasant and non-abrasive. They are most at home in an atmosphere of security and serenity, but with love and reassurance, they can easily adapt to the most boisterous of households. In The Feral Cats household, she domesticated us with her angelic aura, her abundant patience, and her willingness to share pieces of herself. She courageously started a new life under enormous pressures. She enjoyed a successful teaching career and thriving business, wrote “Fig on a Stick”, and launched her TLC Writing Workshops here in the desert.

Although we came to class with some trepidation, because of you, Tammy, we found a home where wisdom, empathy, strength and love abide.

Written by Pat Erickson for the Feral Cats’ Graduation Ceremony, 2009

After graduation, Sally Logan published, “William F. Logan, Jr., Stories of the War in the Pacific”, about her father’s service in WW II, and will soon publish another biography of her friend, Frank, entitled “Bent, Surviving Martini’s Law.”

After graduation, Pat Erickson published her memoir entitled, “Stifle Yourself, Edith”, and is working on a book of short stories.

 

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.


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