The Chronicle's plea to save terminally ill NDG resident Kathy Biever's numerous pets ("Got any love to spare?") touched an extraordinary number of West Enders' hearts and families as they scrambled to find a temporary or permanent home for her animals.
In response to the article, reader Elizabeth Dakin sent us this picture, taken shortly before Ms. Biever entered the hospital. According to Ms. Dakin, the picture "captures the tender soul that she was".
When the article was first published, her friend Angela Hunter told us that Kathy's phone immediately rang off the hook with people leaving motivational messages to Kathy's friends to give to her. Kathy was so touched by this gesture that she asked her friends not to answer her phone, so the messages would go directly to her answering machine and Kathy would retrieve them from the hospital.
Squeaky, an orange tabby cat immediately found a home with a West End Chronicle reader. There was a lot of interest in Tripod, Kathy's three-legged German shepherd, but because of his special needs, he eventually found a home outside of the province, thanks to the tireless efforts of Lawrence Pinksy a private animal rescuer in NDG.
The Animal Health Clinic in NDG also played a huge role in finding new homes for countless of Kathy's cats; making sure to give them a clean bill of health before sending them off. "Some of the staff and vets at the clinic even went to the hospital to spend time with Kathy, which meant the world to her," Angela told us.
Compassion spilled beyond the West End, as a West Island family who heard about Kathy's plight, unofficially "adopted" Kathy and her family. Heather Monaco and her young children Emilia, Alfredo and Johnny raised food and the kids donated a brand new winter jacket and their birthday presents to Kathy's son. Sadly, Kathy passed away on December 13 at Mount Sinai Hospital from terminal brain cancer.
Being a watchdog, probing the inner workings of council and the day-to-day decisions of elected officials, which inevitably affect all our lives, is a necessary and essential part of a community paper. But reporting on how a community chooses to respond to someone's personal tragedy is also worth mentioning and celebrating.
Kathy's story and by extent people's reaction to it is a reminder of the values that matter and how people's concerns over this former ballerina with a heart of gold and her pets mirrors genuine human concern that has not been eradicated by our cynicism and our fast-paced world.
In the cult film "Before Sunrise", Julie Delpy says to Ethan Hawke: "I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me, but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt." We dare say, the answer is always in the attempt.