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Guest blog: Grace Jones adopted me

Posted on Friday, June 10, 2022
Grace Jones adopted me

Last weekend at our Block Party, BlackLiq took the stage for a freestyle challenge in which he rhymed — sight unseen — a set of words provided by volunteers, staff and children visiting the Richmond SPCA. This week we asked him about the role that pets have played in his life.

If you follow me on social media (@BlackLiq) you know my mom, Heed, has adopted several cats over the years and takes care of a colony of 7-9 community cats. I’ve got lots of stories about them, but I figured it’s only right that I start, like any superhero movie, with a little origin tale. By the way, my mom lives with me. So I also take care of a colony along with the 3 indoor cats “she’s adopted.”

If there’s one thing I love, it’s animals. I don’t even know if I can really call them pets since I’ve always connected with them, sometimes more than I do with people. I grew up with dogs, cats, even pet rats (one time for Fatty and Skitty). They were often one of the few things that made my childhood feel consistent. My father was a telecommunications installer. That meant chasing contractor work and wages from state to state, living in hotels, sometimes even the car. I had seen a lot by the time we got to Virginia, after all I was born in California.

Helping the strays

My mom was the one who always pushed for us to take in strays, my dad hated it. Ironically, the pets always loved him the most. Go figure. I remember the many arguments about keeping some random cat that we found in a parking lot. Well, as the saying goes, despite our best efforts, we all end up becoming our parents.

Life happens and to put it lightly, my family was blindsided by the incarceration and life sentencing of my father. My mom lost it all and ended up moving in with me. One of our two dogs, Big Sexy, had passed away right before all that happened. She brought the other one, Kane Loc aka “The Locster,” with her. It was an adjustment, that’s for sure. Kane fell ill and we had to make one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. That was My Guy. I was there in the room with him. That experience was enough for me to swear pets off for good, and for a long time I did. My heart was closed off.

Black Liq holds one of the “kitty thugs,” Stunna Man, during a visit to the Richmond SPCA’s Susan M. Markel Veterinary hospital. Though Stunna started out feral, as indicated by the ear tip, he’s come around to, grudgingly, accept more contact and help from humans.

Then one night Heed showed up after work with a little something in her hand.

I first saw the eyes reflecting in the darkness of my living room off the light from my TV. It was a black kitten with little, stiff legs hanging over my Mom’s hand. My mom said she was found wandering in the parking lot of an apartment complex a coworker lived at. A young man looked at my mom and said “you’ve got to keep her” and so that’s just what she did. She picked her up, put her in the car, and brought her home to me. I took one look at that little face, tried to keep it together and said “Fine. But she’s yours.”

And then I named her Grace Jones.

The Susan M Markel Veterinary Hospital at the Richmond SPCA was our go to for the Kitty Thugs. They had helped us with one outdoor, adult stray that we called Sammy Davis Jr The Kitty, but this was a bit different being Grace Jones would be living in the house 24/7. But hey not my problem, she was my mom’s cat … right? A few shots and tests here, a quick exam there, and my mom became the owner of a beautiful kitten who was full of spunk and loved attention. My attention.

I had heard stories about cats “choosing people,” but I had never seen it happen. Our pets always loved me, but when it came down to it they never looked at me as “The One.” Plus, I’m about as close to “No time for love Dr. Jones” as one can get. I’m always working.

Grace Jones changed that all.

I knew I was in trouble when Grace Jones started falling asleep on my lap when I was playing video games. Especially when I didn’t know how she got there. Or that one time she went to sleep next to me on a pillow, tucked in like a person? No idea how that happened either. Whenever I came home, she was the first one to greet me. Then I realized I had a bunch of pictures in my phone…of her! She got bigger, we got closer. She wasn’t feeling well, I got worried … I don’t worry!

I admit, I fought it. Before Grace Jones showed up I loved animals, without a doubt. I got down with the strays, I put food out, if one got sick I helped get them to the vet. I cared. But Grace Jones turned me into a square. She brought me back to life in a way I still can’t believe. She gave me the courage to look beyond the loss I had experienced with Kane. She inspired the strength to step up when the stray Kitty Thugs needed me most, or when we had to make a tough decision and I had to be there to comfort them as they ascended to Thug’s Mansion. It’s because of Grace Jones that no matter how grave or concerning the circumstances may seem to be I am willing to face the inevitable in the present with compassion, one litter box at a time.

Heed may have adopted Grace Jones, but it was Grace Jones who adopted me. 


BlackLiq

BlackLiq is a long-time independent force who has filled the roles of radio host, promoter, journalist, mentor, and TEDtalk speaker, among many others. Respected as an MC throughout the underground and above, he most recently appeared on indie rap juggernaut Atmosphere’s latest album, “WORD?” is the latest addition to Strange Famous Records, and the vocalist of D-beat Punk band Armagideon Time on Anti-Corp Music. By remaining relentlessly kinetic and persistently willing to impart life lessons in all mediums, he has earned his hard-won place in the industry.

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