She was…

Today, I want to say a few words about my friend, Simone.

If you’ve never had a cat, or can’t understand how people can get so attached to pets, or anthropomorphise them to any extent then I’m sorry. I apologize for taking up your time, wish you well and I’ll hope to see you tomorrow. For those who are left let me tell you about this very special lady… and share some photos.

Here’s the thing about Simone: Her life had an arc. I’ve never seen anything so striking or touching as the way Simone developed through her life with us. You can’t tell from this photo of her being so close with her brother Sebastian (below – a very common situation, they loved to groom each other), but Simone was the shyest cat I have ever met.

In 2006 my wife and I went to find a new feline companion to replace the last of the two cats I had come over with from the UK. She had died at age 20 in 2005. We were going for one cat and had arranged a visit to a cat ‘foster’ home where some 10-15 or so cats were hanging out waiting to find new homes having been saved from an overcrowded home by Community Concern 4 Cats (CC4C – link here). The place was swarming with cats but one stuck out as particularly friendly and spirited – this was Sebastian and he was almost a year old. The ‘foster mother’ then pointed out that Sebastian had a litter-sister, Simone, who generally spent all her time hiding. But when she could be coaxed out from under the couch it was clear that she was quite charming. We accepted them both into our lives.

It took about 30 seconds for Sebastian to appear comfortable in his new home… it took 3 days for Simone to come out from under the bed.

Over the years it became clear we had a couple of adorable and quite different siblings. Both were lap cats, which we really wanted, but while Sebastian could handle all kinds of disruption and still insist on sitting on you (that was both good and bad!) Simone was much more easily spooked. Though, as time went by, she settled more and more and we really valued the ways in which she showed us she trusted us. At first she always ran to hide when we had visitors but again, as time passed, she became more and more comfortable with people she knew and in the last couple of years it was considered an honor if you were visiting and Simone chose to sit on your lap.

Privately they both loved to sit with us, and Sunday morning with the papers and tea in bed were very special. But one way in which Simone honored me (and my wife will be the first to admit would make her jealous) was how, especially in the last few years, Simone would come and cuddle up to me before lights out. So, so sweetly she might sit on Cynthia’s lap if I was not in the room but as soon as I entered she’d run to my side of the bed and almost sit up and beg as I put on my pyjamas (I sometimes felt rather embarrassed the attention she was giving me). But she knew when it was time to leave (we rarely allowed them to stay in with us – too disruptive in the middle of the night) and would immediately and politely head back into the living room. Unlike her brother, who now has the two of us to himself and has to be physically lifted and shown the door…


Her last weeks were tragic. The effects of a brain tumor are cruel. Initially we hoped. But that last evening at home when Simone succumbed to fit after fit were gruelling, for her and us, and as the hours passed and no good news came from the emergency hospital where we had taken her it became clearer that this sweet, gentle, perfect partner was never more to find peace on this plane.

Both Cynthia and I were there when permission was given and Simone was urged on her way. I’m not of that mind that believes we’ll meet again – but she does still exist, in our hearts and in our memories.

And that’s just perfect.

A favorite – Sleeping beauty!

Thank you, Simone. Take Care.
– S.

About Simon

Simon is an actor who found his way into audiobook narrating as a side-gig and seems to have made a success of it. With some training as an actor as a child (just a couple of hours a week, but it stuck) and 15 years working inside the BBC (ending up as one of the presenters/newsreaders on BBC Radio 4 in London) he found the ideal combination for an audiobook narrator. Found his way to California two decades ago and never left.

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10 Responses to She was…

  1. Evelyn November 1, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

    What a beautiful tribute to her, Simon. I remember when you adopted the 2 of them and the cozy home you provided. I remember playing with the 2 of them with the laser pointer. I’m glad she trusted me then. I too know the pain of losing cats, as we just lost 19 year old Prissy this year, and my beloved big orange boy, Chowder, last year. I will read more of your blog now.
    Please take good of yourself and your lady, Cynthia.
    Love, Evelyn

  2. Deborah November 1, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

    After years of listening to you Mr. Vance as an actor through audio books.. quite spoiled and taken by the delicere perfection of your delivery.. I am greatly pleased and charmed by being allowed to gleen this.. until now nonpublic and intimate side of your life. I found this delightful tribute to your beautiful friend very interesting.
    I will enjoy reading your writings. Thank you for writing and for sharing.

  3. Campbell November 1, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    That’s a lovely story, Sir. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Kenny Hodges November 1, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    As a new-comer to cats in the last four years, you got me with this tribute, Simon. Beautiful. These little ones sure know the way into our hearts!

  5. Millicent Tirk November 1, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    Hi Simon,

    I had a cat, and I know all too well how painful it is when they need to leave us. Simone actually looks a lot like my cat, her name was Tiffany. I’m so sorry for your and Cynthia’s loss. I hope you’ll continue to post here, even after your 30 day challenge is complete, as I really enjoy reading your thoughts here. I’ve listened to many of the books you’ve narrated for, and you’re one of my particular favorites.

  6. David Hunter November 1, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    Having just lost my canine soul mate after nearly 16 years I know how you feel. Personally I’ve of the mind that nothing ends but merely transitions – whatever is the next thing though, those memories are perfect. Personally I like this quote from Marcus Aurelius:

  7. Jan Johnston November 1, 2017 at 6:41 am #

    I can’t even think of anything to say, but thank you.

  8. Barbara Harris October 31, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    We have experienced the same joys and sadnesses of which you speak with our Calicos, Circle Kitty 1 and Cisco Kitty 2. Someday we will obtain another. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Julianna Deering October 31, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. They’re not entirely tears of sorrow, though that’s part of it, but I think there’s some “how wonderful your time with her must have been” and a lot of “I know, I know” in there, too. I’ve had cats all my life, and it’s so true that they work their way into your heart in ways you never expect. It’s the hardest thing in the world (and yet the kindest) to have to make that final decision to let them go.

    Thank you for taking in two rescue cats (the best pets in the world!). I hope you and your wife will open your home and your hearts to more in the future. There are so many who need loving and undertanding homes.

    Simone was beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  10. Literate Housewife October 31, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    This is a beautiful post. All four of you were lucky to have found each other.

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