Almost a month ago now I had my "marathon weekend." Right after the family holiday dinner in SE Iowa, I hopped in the car and drive straight to downtown Des Moines for the annual Paws-n-Claws Auction, the big annual fundraiser for Animal Lifeline of Iowa. Here's a photo of me at the fundraiser with Al, the ALI mascot:
As you might recall, Brian was on the Board of Directors for Animal Lifeline of Iowa. This year, he was recognized in the auction program with a full page that included his picture and biography. I had decided that I would also make a special bid in his honor. You see, each year, there is a silent auction, then a live auction. The live auction always includes fantastic prizes, and then some "gimmies" that have no monetary value, but are a good way to get donations to the shelter, such as "bidding" on the right to buy food for the shelter for a week, to sponsor medicines for a week, etc. The most fun of these is naming rights to the next litter of puppies and naming rights to the next litter of kittens.
Last year, the bidding started at $100. The naming rights for the next puppy litter went up to around $300. When it was time for the kittens, my friend Kristine opened the bidding at $100...and that's where it stopped. So, this year, I decided I was going to buy the naming rights for a litter of kittens and name them all names that Brian would like. This year, the puppies went for a couple hundred bucks again...and then it was time to bid on naming rights to the kittens.
Long story short, I won the rights to those kittens. For $700. Yes -- Seven. Hundred. Dollars. Gulp! The good news is, the shelter actually made $2,100 on this auction item! You see, I was in a bidding war with 2 other people and after I won, the auctioneer joked, "Anyone else who'd like to name a litter of kittens for $700, hold up your paddles now." The two ladies I beat out held up their paddles! Also, the shelter director stood up after I won (but before the other two pledges/bids were made) and said, "For that price, she can name TWO litters!" So I get to name two litters of kittens! I did have to laugh though -- I thought the kittens would go cheaper than the puppies -- they always do! I think Brian had a part in that going differently -- I think he was telling me, "Ummmm...you bought yourself a Gucci purse this summer. I'm going to make sure you donate more to Animal Lifeline than you spent on that damn ugly purse!" (In my defense, I LOVE the purse, though I know it would not have been something he liked. And it will be my only real Gucci bag ever.)
Actually, I went to see two litters of kittens last week and submitted names to the shelter yesterday. I will post their names and a link to their profiles once those are up on the Animal Lifeline website.
All in all, the auction was a good time. There were 13 people in my group, the better part of two tables. This included several of Brian's co-workers (who are also friends). Readers would recognize a few names -- Kristine (running partner), Joy ("aunt" Joy to my cats), and Ellie (who is a phenom at house projects) were all there.
At one point in the evening, I had an intense and emotional conversation with Brian's former boss, who is the one who got him involved with Animal Lifeline. It was really good to open up and have a tearful conversation, actually. For one, I think it helped relieve some of the emotions that were coursing through me that day and that would have probably reared their head during my half-marathon the next morning if they hadn't come out that night. For another, it was another chance for me to open up face-to-face, which is something I'm not always good at.
Side note: There's the takeaway, readers -- don't feel bad if I cry while talking to you. First, it isn't you that "made me cry" -- it is the situation I'm in. Second, it's not a bad thing to express emotion honestly, and tears are sometimes a product of that.
In addition to getting to name two litters of kittens (with names I know Brian would love), I was thrilled to see the shelter make a lot of money that night, I felt lucky to have the love and support of friends and Brian's co-workers surrounding me, and I even walked away with a silent auction package that included a 60-minute massage! (I have already used the massage, and it was incredible!)
I'd say the ALI auction was a success.