Category Archives: family

Remembering Belle

Belle Cherry, a catnip enthusiast, sleep specialist and Fancy Feast connoisseur who despised dogs and nurtured feral-turned-house cats, died Sept. 15, 2020, at home. She was 17.

The cause was complications from thyroid disease.

With her mostly snowy white coat and sparkling eyes, Isabella Christmas Cherry, known by all as Belle, caught the eye of her human companion Bobby on Sept. 18, 2003, at a pet store inside the Millcreek Mall in Erie. At about eight weeks old, Belle had snagged her tiny claws onto Bobby’s hoodie. It was love at first sight.

Belle was named to honor Bobby’s love of “Days of our Lives” and Christmas. She did not receive a name for several days as Bobby worked to find the best name to capture her energy and the spirit of those interests.

The first several months of her life were lived mostly in secret, breaking on-campus college housing rules to live with Bobby. Masking tape was used on the blinds to keep her from wandering onto a windowsill to lazily gaze at the city life that passed by, and, of course, the birds in nearby trees.

It is in this Erie apartment where Belle grew to enjoy using the bathroom sink as a napping spot, sitting on the bathtub ledge to catch water falling from the shower, stealing lunch meat from already made sandwiches on the kitchen counter, playing with Christmas village pieces, and, best of all, snuggling in warm blankets in a cool room with Bobby.

She eventually grew out of her interest in scooping water out of glasses before knocking them onto the floor.

Ultimately, though, the masking tape was no match for a young and curious Belle. Her mischievous behavior to sneak into the window led to her being discovered by a maintenance worker.

When Belle embarked on her new life at the Cherry family estate, she quickly became the Belle of the ball, making friends with Snowflake and Midnight, and being chased by Mindy, whom she detested.

She had a love/hate relationship with housemate Rocket. Simply put, she loved to hate him. On very rare occasions, such as when the house was cold, the pair could be spotted near one another.

Most of the time, though, the pair dueled. Belle always came out victorious in her quest to be the best cat of the house — the true Belle of the ball.

She disliked all dogs and had mild interest in other cats. She is survived by her human companions, including Bobby and his parents and Ryan and Robin, and by four-legged creatures she didn’t really care for — Rocket, Kaci, Anne, Macy, Quiver and Tuffy — and by her close four-legged friends Boo and Charlotte. She was preceded in death by Noel, Max, Sidney, Mindy, Midnight and Snowflake.

Some cats are independent, only seeking attention when they desire it. Belle could be described this way, except that she always sought out the companionship of humans. She craved a warm lap, a chest to knead, an arm to snuggle — however close she could get to a human is what she preferred.

Her infectious love of cuddling was like no other. Belle was a regal companion who could turn a moment of sadness into one filled with happiness and love just by purring, kneading or meowing in her soft and inviting tone.

In her waning months, as the disease progressed, her energy and love remained strong. Belle still found the drive to climb to the top of the cat tree house to gaze out the window, and somehow jumped down from the tallest perch.

Belle’s 17 years and a few months will live on in memory — a memory filled with all sorts of little moments to keep close and remember in times of sadness and joy.

In lieu of cardboard boxes and sparkly toys, Bobby requests you hug your furry little animals and remind them how much they mean to you.

With food, every day is a Good Friday for meatless eaters

Growing up, I remember wondering what was so “good” about Good Friday.

I couldn’t eat meat, and Good Friday always happened to fall on a Friday (funny how that works), which meant Pizza Friday, which meant no pepperoni, which meant WHY EVEN HAVE PIZZA.

No meat on Good Friday became a carryover family tradition from older generations in the family who were far more religious than my family.

Fast forward a few decades to a time when I no longer eat meat on any day of the year.

I laugh thinking of how I felt so put out that I couldn’t have pepperoni pizza or chicken tenders.

Not having meat with a meal was unthinkable then.

Want a salad? No bacon. WHY HAVE SALAD!

A burger? No way! WHAT IS THE POINT OF LIFE!

So I recall a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese pizza — two otherwise excellent options EXCEPT WHEN MEAT WAS NOT AN OPTION!


What a minor sacrifice it was for that short period. It’s similar to how I see those who forgo something for Lent. A huge deal is made for something such as coffee or pop or candy.

Today, I only consider meatless options — of which there are plenty to choose from — for meals.

Food trucks, cancer, 20 years, skipping Sheetz … oh my!

This year marks the 20th year since my grandma died. In fact, it was this past Sunday. A lot has happened in that time, but my devotion to giving another grandma more time with her grandson — time that I didn’t have with my own — continues. And, of course, many other people.

And, in the 20 years since her death, many other friends and loved ones have been diagnosed with cancer, and some have died.

Your support helps to fund research (some of which is happening in Pittsburgh — I talked with two American Cancer Society funded researchers in June who did their work at the University of Pittsburgh) and programs offered to cancer patients and families.

mission_06So, how can you help?

You can make donation of $20 (or whatever you’d like to/are able to give) to fund American Cancer Society cancer research and programs. And I can talk your ear off about the invaluable programs and research.

Relay For Life is my chance to celebrate loved ones who have won and are winning their battle against cancer, remember those no longer with us and fight back against this disease that robs so many of so much.
mission_02More than just walking the track, I’m fundraising! Because of YOUR donations, more people:

  • Have the information and tools they need to help reduce their risk of getting cancer or find the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat
  • Have a place to turn for help 24/7
  • Benefit from the progress being made toward finding cancer’s causes and cures
  • Get access to lifesaving screenings and treatment

Please join me in fighting cancer and consider supporting my fundraising efforts by making a donation.

And what am I doing to help?

Truth be told, I’ve not been as successful this year at fundraising. So, I’ve decided to skip buying anything from Sheetz (unless if I need gas) this week and donating to my Relay For Life efforts the money I’d have spent otherwise.

And, if you know me or follow me on social media, you know I practically live at Sheetz.

So my goal is to not spend any money on food/drink items at Sheetz from July 18 through 8 a.m. July 23.

You’re probably like, “OK, but that’s maybe 10 bucks.” And you’d be wrong. There are days when I’m at Sheetz three or four times per day. Now, it’s not always for lunch, but it all adds up.

So I’ve decided I’m going to take my last seven Sheetz receipts, add them up and donate that money. If my math is correct, I’ll donate about $80.

What about the FOOD TRUCKS, though? YOU SAID THERE WOULD BE FOOD TRUCKS.

So this Saturday (July 23) — during the Relay For Life of Greater Cranberry Township — is a FOOD TRUCK DINNER PARTY. It’s from 5-8 p.m. at North Boundary Park in Cranberry. SEVEN of the Pittsburgh food trucks will be there! Some of the proceeds benefit the event!

Amission_01nd while you’re there … be sure to check out the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Greater Cranberry Township events going on, too! Here’s a full schedule. There are a lot of events for kids, plus there are bands performing and all sorts of activities.

Can’t make the food truck dinner party or RFLCranberry? Or, can make it and still want to support research efforts and programs? Please consider a making a $15, $20 or whatever you’d like to offer donation. You can do so here.

Thank you so much for your support. Together, we will finish the fight!

hope

Thanks and giving

It’s hard to imagine being thankful for anything after your child dies.

I have no children, so I’ve yet to experience the bond between a parent and child.

A week before Thanksgiving, I hesitated before walking up the steps of Matt and Meghan Galluzzo’s Sewickley home. It was, I thought, going to be one of the most difficult interviews. I was there to talk with them about how thankful they were for how giving the community, colleagues and strangers have been to them and their daughter over the last several months.

Their son Owen died Aug. 10, 2014, at the age of 9. I had known some of Owen’s medical history because his father and I have been Facebook friends for a few years. We’d never met in person, but connected through social media. Admittedly, I knew little of the medical issues except for what Matt posted. I knew of Meghan and her sister as we are alum from the same high school, but many years apart.

That evening, they shared many stories of how grateful they have been for the support they’ve received.

From that evening came this story. I hope you’ll read it.

Matt and Meghan are working to offer support to two organizations that helped Owen. The link offers a way in which you can help.

Feeling Old (at 28?)

I remember the days when I loved staying out until 4 in the morning or later. Friends and I would go out to a bar or a few and then spend time at somebody’s apartment watching TV, playing board games or just hanging out. And, we’d either crash there or walk home just in time to see the sun rise.

Remember thinking that 8 p.m. was too early to go out?

Read the rest of my weekly TwoDay Mag column.