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  • Writer's pictureMarybeth Haines

Guest Spotlight: The Gift of Music - An Ode To Cally

Have you ever walked into a room and felt a sense of goodness and positivity all around you? Perhaps the energy, the music in the background, the whole entire atmosphere just had that perfect, subtle ambiance that made you feel relaxed, calm and at peace?

Or maybe you heard a song play and it brought tears to your eyes because it brought back sweet memories of someone or something that played a special role in your life. At times, I will myself hear music play and it creates a sense of happiness, playfulness, increased energy and even a sense of release through tears.

Music is a magnificent tool in which we can use to assist us, especially in healing. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Joanne Ingrassia; writer, songwriter and photographer. She has a passion for animals and it is an honor to feature her on today’s guest spotlight post, “An Ode to Cally.”

I felt a strong connection with Joanne from the first time I spoke with her. Joanne and I have experienced the loss of our beloved animal companions in a similar way. Both Cally and Kitty passed at 20 years of age and both at/around Christmas/New Years’ time. Joanne wrote to me, just a short while ago, and shared her recently published article. I felt it best to quote in her words as they touch my heart in many ways.

Joanne shares: “It’s called Ode to Cally". I’ve attached a copy for you, in the spirit of sharing, and now more than ever feeling a connection in your losing Kitty over a Christmas past, as I just did with Cally.

Such a beautiful yet tough season in some ways. Kitty was a gorgeous black cat, as is Lissa! And though we were both left with another cat, it doesn’t take away the loss or the missing. But I know, as much as there is sadness and loss, there is always love, for love never dies.

Joanne has often used music in her life. Being a songwriter and music lover, she knows the power of sound and how music can bring new meaning to life circumstances. She brilliantly used this tool of music to help herself and her two feline companions; Cally and Lissa during the transition and passing of Cally, a feline best friend of over 18 years.

She recently published an article for Room 217. Room 217 Therapeutic Music Resources support, comfort, soothe, relax and encourage sleep for those facing stress, illness, grief and suffering. The story behind the foundation of how Room 217 became about, is quite heart touching. You can review more information HERE.

In her article “Ode to Cally: Losing My Feline Companion” , she shares about her relationship with her two cats Cally and Lissa, who became sisters and joined together in family with Joanne. When the time came for Cally’s passing, Joanne used the tool of music “Classic Comfort” from Room 217, letting it play in the background, creating calmness, peace and comfort during this most difficult time.

After reading her article, I found Joanne’s words of sharing to be powerful and healing. It resonated with me when she shared:

“Cally seemed to appreciate music, too. Upbeat jazz sparked playfulness, she mellowed out to blues and folk, while classical soothed her to sleep.

The night I rescued her, I remember playing light jazz in the car and then at home, hoping it would create a calm environment for her. She seemed to enjoy it, showing no signs of distress, curling up on my bed and falling asleep as if we had always been together. I named her Cally in honor of musician Cab Calloway who had just died.”

…But as Cally passed her 20th birthday this past November, I could see how much she had slowed down. She had been fighting a couple of diseases for the past few years and though she was on medication, there came a time when my vet and I decided there was little else that could or should be done, and that she live out her life, comfortably and well-loved at home.

At Christmas, I realized Cally was getting ready to leave. Though she still did the usual things that are markers for animals living well day to day, there were changes. I noticed how much more she wanted to stay in very close contact with me and Lissa throughout the days and nights.

I could no longer listen to the Christmas music I loved and instinctively reached for Classic Comfort, one of Bev Foster’s Room 217 CD’s that I have always enjoyed. I began playing it and continued to do so for days. It created a sense of calm and peace in my home, with the gentle, slow-paced rhythm of the solo piano music. I echoed this peace with candles and soft lamp light.

I knew it was important to stay calm and the music really helped me breathe slower. I spoke softly to Cally, telling her how much I loved her, how she had brought such love and joy to my life, how well she had cared for Lissa and me over all these years, always there to offer a loving gaze or soft cuddle. I whispered that it was okay to go. I have done the same with people I love who are close to death. I’ve always been so grateful to have had the time to say goodbye.

…Classic Comfort will always be imprinted as my honoring time with Cally. And I know, as I continue to heal, music will help center and ground me, and bring me and those around me, peace.”

You can view Joanne’s full article HERE.

Some say that experiences often bring folks closer together. It is both a privilege and an honor to be able to feature Joanne’s story and know that she understands what it is like to lose a beloved pet and help others heal through the sharing of her story.

Thank-you Joanne!

Love and hugs,


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