Memories of Sammy

Sammy hanging out on the kitchen counter.

Sammy hanging out on the kitchen counter.

(NOTE: I wrote this on the day I lost a very special cat on October 22, 2015. Sammy came into my life as a “foster cat” waiting for an opening at a local pet store. As a full grown cat, I felt his chances for being purchased were slim as most people are drawn to the cute little kittens that are bundles of energy.)

Here he comes, dashing across the yard to greet me. The most affectionate cat I’ve ever been blessed with.

He rises up on his hind paws and gently steadies himself against my leg. We make eye contact. I reach down to caress his chin. He purrs softly.

Later, I observe him lying by the patio door, his soft black fur soaking in the late afternoon sun. He looks so peaceful. I think to myself, “Oh, what a cat’s life!”

Sammy vying for my attention as he takes his place on my laptop.

Sammy vying for my attention as he takes his place on my laptop.

It’s now 8:30 in the evening. I settle onto the couch to relax before bed with my bride of 35 years, ready to watch TV and do some web surfing on my laptop. Oh, but Sammy saunters into the room and decides he’ll have nothing of it. He jumps onto the cushion next to me – vying for my attention. Who can resist those beautiful golden eyes as we, again, catch each other’s gaze. Off goes the laptop and on comes Sammy as he warmly curls onto my lap.

Sammy won my heart over on his first night at our home when he followed me to bed and curled up next to me. Most nights he would roll onto his side and lay his paw on my chest.

Sammy won my heart over on his first night at our home when he followed me to bed and curled up next to me. Most nights he would roll onto his side and lay his paw on my chest.

Time for bed and “Mr. Sam” faithfully follows me upstairs. I snuggle under the covers and he cuddles up next to me. He rolls onto his side and lovingly places his paw across my chest. It’s almost like a child saying, “Daddy, I love you.” I caress his head, he purrs, we both fall asleep. All is good with the world.

3:15 a.m. – My alarm clocks wakes us and we head down to the kitchen. Sammy awaits his usual treat as I grab my cereal. He heads to the patio door for his early morning check of the neighborhood. He pauses as I open the door, sniffs the cool, early morning air, and looks up at me before he cautiously heads out. Is that a wink that I see as I close the door behind him?

Then I’m off to work.

I return about 6:15 p.m. No Sammy to greet me. That’s OK; he’s probably enjoying the last of the nice autumn days before the cold, “lake effect” snows of Lake Erie arrive. He’ll be home soon.

It’s now 9:30 p.m. – time to get to bed because of my early morning start. Still no “Samster.” Well, not the first time that he’s been out all night. Probably checking in with a “lady friend.”

2:00 a.m. – Can’t sleep. I just don’t feel right about Sammy being out all night. Just a few weeks earlier, he lost a “battle” with a skunk. He still has a faint odor from that ordeal. I check all the doors he typically comes-and-goes from. I call his name several times. Still no Sammy.

3:30 a.m. – I leave for work, concerned that I may never see my “little buddy” again.

8:45 a.m. – The dreaded phone call comes. It’s my wife, choking back tears, telling me that she may have passed Sammy lying on the side of the road near our house. She couldn’t bring herself to stop and confirm her fears. I jump in my car, worried what I might find as I race home.

9:30 a.m. – Fear confirmed. Sammy’s svelte body and sweet little face show the ravaging effects of being hit by a car. I kneel over my loving friend, tears streaming onto his dirt-covered fur. I scoop him into my arms, walk to the tree line along my back yard, and kneel down over him as tears stream down my face. My hand rests on his lifeless body for the last time.

Sammy and I

Sammy and I

A little while later, I have finished preparing his final resting place among the trees he used to hunt moles and mice. I gently lay him in his earthly grave, say my final farewell and tell him someday we’ll meet again on the other side of the “Rainbow Bridge.”

I find it interesting that while your loved one is alive, every experience you have with that pet or person is “in-the-moment” – you enjoy it as it happens. The instant they’re gone – those experiences suddenly become memories – the only thing you have left to recall the special time you had with your loved one.

So all I have now are the beautiful memories of the sweet, loving kitty that had been my faithful companion about 10 years. He was unlike most cats… more like a dog in his faithfulness.

I only wish I could “download” all those special moments from my mind and into an album. As time passes, many of the special memories of my Sammy will fade away. I can only look forward to the day that we are reunited in heaven – both of us as we were in happier times.

Rest in peace my little friend.

I Love You,

“Dad”

 

Cleveland Arctic Plunge – Another one for the “bucket list”

Call it “midlife crisis” or just a little insanity. Last Saturday was my latest “bucket list” moment as I joined dozens of Northeast Ohioans for the 2015 Arctic Plunge at Edgewater Park near downtown Cleveland.

After jumping out of a perfectly good airplane two years ago, I thought it would be fun to dive into the frigid waters of an icy Lake Erie to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Team Fox (Parkinson's Disease), University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and Westshore Critical Incident Response Services.

Before taking the plunge, I videotaped my fellow “plungees” (plungers?) as they entered the water like sheep being lead to their slaughter. There were plenty of whoops and laughter as they proceeded in single file down the narrow channel that had just been carved out of the frozen lake by an excavator.

Then it was my turn. I peeled of my winter coat and pants, removed my socks and shoes, turned on my chest-mounted GoPro camera and ran into the lake in my t-shirt and shorts. Good times!

Surprisingly, while the water was cold, it really was quite bearable. The biggest issue I encountered were the chunks of ice floating on and below the water surface. I had a number of cuts and bruises on my lower legs when I finished.

When I got back to the registration tent, someone called a paramedic to attend to my bloodied legs. While he doused the cuts with hydrogen peroxide (which I couldn't feel due to the numbness of my legs), I asked him how many people his crew had treated. Almost apologetically he said, “Well, you're about the only one.” Proud moment for me – NOT!

Have you ever jumped in a frigid lake for a good cause? What was YOUR experience like? Please comment here.

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Top 10 reasons why I decided to shave my head

St. Baldrick's Foundation, Mark Madere, Glenn Barton

Mark Madere and Glenn Barton after getting their heads shaved at a St. Baldrick's Foundation charity fundraiser at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Top 10 reasons why I decided to shave my head:

10. My co-worker – Glenn Barton – said he was going to shave his head for the St. Baldrick's cancer fund raiser and I thought it would be cool if we confused our co-workers with the same new “hair” style. (Photo at left)

9. I hate “bed-head” in the morning. (Photo below)

St. Baldrick's fundraiser, Mark Madere, bed head8. The Mocha Monkey said he would if I would. (Photo below)

St. Baldrick's Foundation, cancer research,t University Hospitals, Case Medical Center7. I thought I saw some grey hair coming in and thought this was easier than plucking them individually. (Sorry – no photo with this one. You don't need to see what those nasty grey hairs looked like!)

6. Women just LOVE bald guys. (Photo below)

5. Have you seen my hair in the wind? No Fabio look-alike here. (Photo below)

4. I shaved my head 8 years ago and really dug the look.

3. My wife threatened to divorce me if I ever shaved my head again. (OK – she gets half the bills in the settlement.)Mark Madere, St. Baldrick's fund raiser, University Hospitals of Cleveland

2. The money is going for a great cause – cancer research – so how could I say “no.”

Fabio, Mark Madere, St. Baldrick's1. I know that everyone who has followed this post would like to contribute to the cause. I, and future cancer survivors, THANK YOU. Please donate here: http://bit.ly/spec-bald

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Here's your chance to help!

I've answered the call to help a great cause! I had my head shaved to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer, but more importantly, to raise money to find cures. You can help. The good news is that you don't have to get your head shaved to support cancer research!

Please support me with a donation to the St. Baldrick's Foundation. This volunteer-driven charity funds more childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U. S. government.

Your gift will give hope to infants, children, teens and young adults fighting childhood cancers. So when I ask for your support, I'm really asking you to support these kids.

Thank you!

Click the link to make a donation online, or donate by phone or mail. http://bit.ly/spec-bald

Do you feel that cancer research is important? Please share this article with your family and friends on Facebook, Twitter or any other way you communicate via the Internet.

Your “One Day” photo could land you a trip to Paris

My "One Day" moment - my daughter

My "One Day" moment - my daughter's birth

From the movie – One Day

After one day together, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) begin a friendship that will last a lifetime.

What’s your One Day? Your college graduation? Your first kiss? Your wedding day? A visit with your mother? Share the memorable moments of your life with a snapshot.

Enter the One Day Kodak Photo Contest for the chance to win a trip to Paris planned by STA Travel. Get details and enter now.

My One Day moment was when my daughter, Jacqui, was born. Like most first-time parents, I was in awe of the responsibility that this beautiful little baby brought. As she cried while the nurses cleaned her up, I trembled at the thought of how my wife and I could raise her to be the best Jacqui she could be. Moments later, the nurse handed this amazing, red-faced, wailing newborn to hold. As I took her into my arms, I asked God for the strength to handle my newest role – that of a father. Almost instantly, a calm came over her… and then over me as I gazed into her tiny, angelic face.

What a wonderful sign my heavenly Father gave to me in the peacefulness of that moment.

What One Day moment would you enter in this contest? Please leave a comment on this post.

Sue Sawyers – Let them eat cake

I had a piece of cake in Sue's memory. Why? See article.

The world lost an amazing person this week.

Sue Sawyers passed away March 29, 2011 following a courageous battle with cancer.

I came to know Sue as a new member of the North Ridgeville Chamber of Commerce in 2006. From the moment I met her, she was a warm, welcoming person who clearly wanted her fellow business person to succeed. To that end, she gave me a few photography assignments with the company she worked for – Great Lakes Publishing – the publisher of West Shore Magazine.

Throughout her career, Sue became active in many chambers of commerce, including North Ridgeville, Lorain County, West Shore, North Coast, Lakewood and Beachwood. She served on numerous committees and held several offices for the North Ridgeville Chamber of Commerce, most recently as Chairman of the Board from 2008 to the present time.

In 2010 Sue received the North Ridgeville Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce Bright Star Award for her exemplary service. In 2009 she was presented with the Hugh Dawson Service Award for outstanding volunteerism with the West Shore Chamber. To honor her accomplishments, Mayor Dennis Clough of Westlake proclaimed December 8, 2009 as “Sue Sawyers Day” in Westlake.

Probably the thing that Sue was well known for was her love of cake. At a recent North Ridgeville Chamber of Commerce event, they gave away door prizes from local businesses. The last prize was a gift card to Ruby Tuesdays. Before drawing the winner, it was requested that the recipient of the card have a piece of cake in Sue's memory. Its funny how I had a feeling that it would be me who would fulfill this bitter-sweet assignment.

 Yesterday, just two days after Sue's passing, my wife and I used the gift card and had a piece of cake in Sue's memory.

Sue, may you and the angels in heaven share your cake together – for eternity. We love you and miss you.

Did you know Sue personally? Please share a fun experience you had with her by leaving a comment on this post.

34th anniversary of incredible flying saucer sighting

A “flying cup-and-saucer” captured 34 years ago in Du Bois, PA by Cleveland photographer Mark Madere

April 1st marks the 34th anniversary of the day I captured a “flying cup-and-saucer” hovering over a local fast-food restaurant in the sleepy town of Du Bois, PA.

Although I've lived in Cleveland for 31 years, I was born and raised in Du Bois. During my senior year in high school, there were several reported UFO sightings in the area. On the evening of April 1st, 1977 – I was cruising down “The Boulevard” when the flying cup-and-saucer caught my eye as it swooped in from the east. I and the four teenagers in this photo were the only eye-witnesses of this amazing event. Fortunately I had my camera loaded with high speed film – ready to document this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Later that night, I captured a photo of four “Martians” checking out some electronic gadgets at a local store. They appeared to take on the bodies of the four teenagers who witnessed the flying cup-and-saucer earlier that evening! Check out that photo and the article that appeared in the Du Bois Courier Express on April 1, 1977.

The next day, I sent the newspaper article to Corning – the company that makes dishes that look eerily similar to the flying cup-and-saucer. Check out the reply I received from the president of Corning Incorporated.

Happy April Fools Day!

Have you ever seen a UFO or other unexplained event? Please leave a comment on this post.

Our Scenic Photographs Accepted for University Hospitals Art Show

Nightfall At The Golden Gate

University Hospitals of Cleveland is pleased to announce that four scenic photographs by Mark Madere have been accepted for exhibition in the UH Employee & Volunteer Juried Art Show. Only 86 of the 200 entries submitted by University Hospitals employees and volunteers were accepted for display.

Madere is an Ophthalmic Photographer at University Hospitals and owner of SpectraLight Photography in North Ridgeville.

The juror for the show was 1987 Cleveland Arts Prize recipient and internationally recognized artist Brent Kee Young. Young has been professor and Chairman of the Glass Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art since 1973.

This exhibition, which is held every 2 years, exposes UH's hidden artistic talents, which are often overshadowed by the exceptional skills these individuals display each day in the clinical environment.

The show runs through Jan. 7, 2011 at University Hospitals Humphrey Atrium Gallery at 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH.

For more of Madere's scenic photography, visit http://mark-madere.artistwebsites.com/

To my daughters on Father’s Day

Dear Jacqui and Dani,

On this Father's Day, I reflect back on our years together.

There are so many things I could have done differently in the quest of being the “perfect dad.” To that end, I have failed miserably.

I can't go back and change the past, but I pray for a future to win your hearts.

As I stand back and admire how you have both grown up, I am thankful for your caring spirits, sense of humour and your curiosity with the things around you. May you be a beautiful reflection of your mother's love from this day onward.

I Love You.

Dad