Hi. Remember us? We’re the two marmalade tabby cats from the Bugger & Bubba story. We have grown up a bit in the last two years, and we are very aware that we have much to be grateful for. This is a story about the person who has made our life wonderful and about the way she goes about dealing with the relationships that matter in her life – mainly her relationship with her cats and her relationship with her personal service chef, Old Muldoon.
This coming weekend is Mother’s Day, and we have been giving a great deal of thought to how it might be celebrated/observed. We have lived here for about three years now, and in those three years we have observed many wonderful things, all thanks to the grace of Mum. Mum sees after us every day. Not only does she care for us, but she also cares for the assorted strays who show up at our door year in and year out. They are a strange amalgam of feline souls, and they do not all respond in the same manner to gratuitous kindness. Mum somehow sorts them out and gives them precisely whatever it is that they need. And so her kindness brings her a constant stream of feral cats who, until they encounter Mum, must make their way in this world by dint of their street instincts. They have to be prepared to defend every smidgen and to capture their food and to seek their pleasures after the manner of street souls everywhere. And then they encounter Mum, the soul of kindness and generosity, and often they don’t know how to react and how to behave in the presence of one such as she.
Of course we will all honor her on Mothers Day, even though it is only a holiday dreamt up by the greeting card companies as a way to make people buy greeting cards. Who could object to spending a few quid on a card for the woman who is Mother? What a great selling idea. And, of course, the same companies made up a similar holiday called Fathers Day, and that for the same purpose. Mothers Day is not only a commercially motivated pseudo holiday, but it is also an institutional holiday honoring all having maternal status. It is not an individual celebration of just this one person. The day that is her celebration day would be her own birthday. And, since that is not until 15th October, we have ample time to establish a proper feast – The Feast of Saint Belinda, as ordained by the leadership of cats of this faith.
This candidacy for sainthood is the universal consensus of us all. It was much discussed among not only by the two of us, but also with the participation of Miss Vicky, the senior cat on premises, an elderly spinster with even more local experience and knowledge than we possess. It was also vetted amongst the strays, and Blue, Blanco, Gimpy, Scruffy and Floyd all agreed that it was the right and suitable thing to do, so long as we went about it in a serious manner. As a group, we are the Kitty Committee. As we are all members of the Kitty Catolic faith, it seemed proper to catalogue those events that could be seen to support a decision to beatify.
To be sure, we also consulted our own college of cardinals, a collection of birds who visit the oak tree in the garden where Mum provides a daily avian feast, strewn upon the ground for the cardinals and other birds. One of the miracles attributed to Mum is that in her garden birds and cats mingle and enjoy what she provides for them without the slightest incident of predation. In any normal environment, the cats would be expected to attack the birds, but not in Mum’s garden. A miracle to be sure. One whom we did not consult is a recent arrival who has yet to learn proper manners, a cat named Mugsy, an obnoxious and pugnacious sort whose opinions are of no interest. If Mum lets Old Muldoon have his way with Mugsy, we won’t be seeing him anymore anyway.
We thought it appropriate also to consult with Old Muldoon, the cook, whose tenure here antedates our own. His experiences here reinforce our inclination to go forward with this, and he offered to assist in the beatification and in the extension of the celebration to include his friends amongst the human beings. He also contributed to the store of incidents that are the factual basis to justify beatification in this instance. For example, he recalls a very cold and rainy day on which, while feasting upon roast chicken and broccoli, Mum heard a cat meowing loudly, but couldn’t see where the cat was. She looked and looked until finally she saw the kitty, cold, wet and scared to death at the very top of the next-door neighbor’s roof. The neighbor wasn’t at home, so there was no help available from them. Mum told Old Muldoon to get a ladder, and she went out in the very cold rain and tried to get the kitty to come down to the lower edge of the roof so that she could rescue it. But the kitty was just too frightened and cold and wet to respond. Mum then instructed Old Muldoon to go back to the kitchen and fetch some morsel of chicken sufficiently delicious to entice the kitty to come down. As instructed, Old Muldoon came back with a morsel of roast chicken breast, redolent of rosemary and garlic, tied with a long string at the end of a stick. Mum could cast this chicken breast morsel, still warm and tender and delicious, very near the kitty. The kitty immediately responded and crawled over to the chicken breast and started sniffing and then licking it and nibbling on it. Slowly, Mum pulled the chicken breast farther and farther down the roof toward her, and the kitty just followed the chicken to where Mum could pick it up and bring it down the ladder to the ground. The kitty then ran off to go home, and Mum and Old Muldoon went soaked and shivering back to the house. In another instance, when Blue had just come by as a stray and very tough kitty, frightened of everyone and ready to scratch and bite, he got into a fight with a tough street cat and got bit on the back. Since Blue wouldn’t let anyone near him, the bite couldn’t be treated, and it became infected. Blue became very sick and would have died. Finally, he became so weak that Mum could put him in a carrying cage and take him to Doc Martin, her Aggie Vet, who cleaned out the infection, sewed Blue up and gave him antibiotics to clear up the infection. All this cost Mum several hundred dollars to save a stray and very tough kitty. Blue has come back every day since then, and will stay in the garage when it is cold or raining. Mum set up a bed for him on those days, and when he stops by he has his own box and blanket where he is snug and safe and warm. Of course she goes out with breakfast and dinner every day for any stray kitties who happen to show up at feeding time. Old Muldoon says that there are just too many of these stories of her kindness and generosity, and that he can’t remember all of them. It is quite likely that The Feast of Saint Belinda will be the first trans specie spiritual observance in the history of the world. Now that in itself should be added to the inventory of miracles that support beatification. The closest thing that we could think of was the relationship between Francis of Assisi and the animals of his time, and the fact that to this day animals are blessed in grand ceremony on the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. It lends precedential authority to the entire project, don’t you think?
Old Muldoon offered his own testimony to the miraculous influence that Mum has had in his life, testified to as well by his many friends who would swear that the reason he remains alive and healthy is the blessing of his having come into the employ of Mum as her cook. It was her influence that brought him to the decision to forswear hard liquor and violence and to embark upon a more civilized path. Now he himself is certainly no saint, and just beneath the veneer of civility one may still sense his inclination to be aggressive. But he is a different man this day than he was prior to the advent of Belinda. We sense that part of his brief here is her ability to unleash him should the proper occasion arise. In his other incarnation as a corporate trial lawyer, he has been known to unleash himself upon adversaries, but that is a theatrical performance that he stages for a fee. On such occasions he has been known to assume the most ferocious look and to use some of the most exquisitely graphic language that anyone on the planet has ever heard. The look alone would suffice to bring most situations under control. Across his usually happy countenance there comes a cloud like that which signals an approaching hurricane or tornado, and you think that lightening is about to strike from his eyes and thunder from deep within his chest. It has even been said that he can emit bowel sounds that suggest an imminent earthquake.
Recently there has been another miracle attributed to Mum. Blanco, one of our outdoor white stray cats who has been with us for almost three years, has had skin problems from too much exposure to the sun. It is said that white kitties can be very sun sensitive, and such has been the case with Blanco. Blanco’s ears were in such bad shape that the left ear has had to be reshaped (to put it nicely), and the Aggie veterinarian told Mum that no hair would ever grow on Blanco’s ears again. Now it is almost a month following Blanco’s encounter with the good physician, and hair is again growing on Blanco’s ears. We have all seen it and can testify that it is solely the result of Mum’s tender treatment and care of Blanco. Old Muldoon was getting a bit testy, because Blanco aint getting any younger and is quite cranky with everyone, hissing and snarling at just about every cat that comes near, and having fights that he never seems to win, resulting in very large veterinarian charges to sew him back up again. Mum told him that if he wasn’t going to be nice to Blanco, she was going to run him off. So he got right with Blanco real quick. The way she handles Blanco’s moods is to plant catnip everywhere in her garden so that every cat has a place in which to roll around in fresh catnip whenever it may please to do so, without ever interfering with the desire of any other cat to roll around in catnip at the same time.
Old Muldoon is really getting into the spirit of this movement. He has started a business plan that involves junk items that one expects to find amongst cult followers, plastic trinkets meant to simulate some relic or souvenir of the Sainted person, weird music the constant repetition of which soon comes to be known and recognized by the public as the signature tune of the movement, sort of a CumBaiYa song for the devotees of Saint Belinda, only with a Brazoria County beat. He is sketching out the outlines of posters adorned with slogans and thoughts attributed to Saint Belinda that people can use to stick on their walls or roll those funny smelling cigarettes in. He says that Saint Belinda has to have an interactive web site from which folks can order trinkets, CDs, Saint Belinda tee shirts, flip flops with blinking lights on them, bumper stickers, copies of Saint Belinda’s book of hours [the fact that Saint Belinda doesn’t have a book of hours is not seen by Old Muldoon as an impediment]. He says that we must arrange for a miracle in which a statue of Saint Belinda starts to Meow whenever a stray cat walks by. Little pocket books of the short blessings and prayers for all occasions that have been composed by Saint Belinda should also be available through the web site. Weirdoes can peddle Saint Belinda junk jewelry in the streets of major cities during lunch hour in order to raise money for the Saint Belinda foundation [there is no Saint Belinda foundation]. All the things that the Lyndon LaRouche crazies used to do would suit Old Muldoon very well. He wants special greetings, hailing signs by which Saint Belinda’s followers clandestinely recognize each other, and a secret handshake. We told him to forget about it, because that simply isn’t what the Saint Belinda movement is all about. He’s discouraged, but he’ll adjust.
Sometimes Mum’s generosity with birds and kitties can get her into trouble. One neighbor became very angry when birds pooped on his television satellite dish, because he thought that bird poop would interfere wit his television picture quality. He blamed the bird poop on Mum because Mum puts out bird food every day. Putting out food for birds is not a crime here, so this bozo called the health department and reported that Mum was operating a bird farm in the city limits, which is a crime. You cannot operate a farm in Mum’s neighborhood either. And so, expecting that they had a dangerous criminal on the loose raising birds willy nilly in a residential neighborhood, the city health department sent an inspector around to take pictures of the bird farm and arrest the person who was operating the farm. Since there is no bird farm, and Old Muldoon invited the inspector onto the property to take pictures to show that there was no bird farm, without requiring him to get a court order to enforce his duty to take the pictures, and since the inspector was also Irish and got along just swimmingly with Old Muldoon, and they ended up drinking in the back yard so that they were both drunk when Mum came home to find them in the yard having a grand time of it, nothing ever happened to Mum for feeding the birds. The grouch was very angry and the inspector told him to mind his own business and to keep his nose out of his neighbors’ activities. That was the same grouch who allowed his attack dogs to run loose in the neighborhood until Old Muldoon took a gun out to shoot them, scaring the living dickens out of the grouch. He called the police on Muldoon for threatening to use the gun, but the policemen who came out turned out to be Irish too, and they and Muldoon had many a joke about the situation. They told the grouch to keep his dogs on a leash or Old Muldoon could shoot them any time he felt like it. They moved back to California. Texas is no place for a grouch.
We were wondering what the procedure could be to have someone become a real saint. Being kitty cats, we are totally unfamiliar with how to go about accomplishing this and didn’t even know where to begin. We had a meeting to decide where to start and determined that it would be necessary to enlist the help of a human being. We only know two humans, Mum and Old Muldoon, and we couldn’t very well go ask Mum how to make her a saint. She would immediately try to discourage us and tell us that she doesn’t want or need that and that it is enough that we love her so much and think of her that way. So we decided to go talk with Old Muldoon and see if he could help us out. Underneath all that bluster and foolishness, he is really a very sensitive and helpful person. No wonder Mum keeps him around. Once you can convince him that you need him to get serious and do something meaningful, he can draw himself up and seem almost professional.
Old Muldoon told us that the usual procedure by which someone is designated to be a saint is an institutionalized one that can take as long as seven hundred years. Of course we don’t have time for anything like that. Mum needs to be a saint by the time her birthday rolls around this coming 15th October. Then Old Muldoon, sly old dog that he is, suggested that since we weren’t trying to make Mum a saint for people, but just wanted her to be a saint for kitty cats, maybe we need not follow the old institutionalized methods ordained by the church. He said that there were precedents by which really good people had achieved recognition based upon only their essential basic goodness, without any requirement that there be formal recognition by any earthly institution. We asked him if this had ever been done before, an attainment of sainthood without priestly endorsement. His eyes lit up and he began to tell us the story of an Irishman who had achieved divine recognition due to essential basic goodness, honesty, integrity and generosity, all with no involvement of any earthly church. We were so excited that he could come up with such a precedent right there on the spot based upon his own personal knowledge and experience. We begged him to continue telling us the story of how this happened.
According to Old Muldoon, there was this very ancient Irishman named Noah O’Malley who lived back in the early days of biblical history and who was a winemaker and farmer of grapevines. His wines were known far and wide as the best and most delicious tipple to be found anywhere in Mesopotamia. He was the Robert Mondavi of his time.
He lived in very tough times, when all over the world there was a great deal of evil. People seemed to have no sense of morality or obligation, or idea that they might be accountable to a higher judge for the way they lived their lives. Bad things of every possible kind that you could ever imagine were happening daily. God became so frustrated, according to Old Muldoon, that there was even great regret that humanity had ever been created.
And so it was decided that all human life on earth would be destroyed so that the evil could be eliminated and then God could decide whether to begin again with humanity in some more benign model. God decided to bring a great rain that flooded the world and washed away all the evil. But the problem with that was that a flood would drown all the animals too. And so God decided to see if there still existed on earth any human being who was decent and honest and kind and morally responsible, who could be entrusted with the care and preservation of animal life so that when the flood was over there could still be animals on earth. According to Old Muldoon, God searched over all the world and finally decided that Noah O’Malley, the great Irish vintner, and his family, were the only people in the world who could be entrusted with this great mission.
And so God appeared to Noah O’Malley in a dream one Friday night after Noah had spent several hours at his favorite pub, Muldoons in Houston, Texas, and instructed Noah to build a huge boat into which he would load two of every specie of animal, and they would live within that boat and ride out the flood and remain alive to populate the new world. Noah did this, and when the flood came, the animals were saved. Without this great Irishman, we kitty cats would not be alive today. Old Muldoon says that he wishes that Noah had not been so thorough in following God’s instructions, and that he hadn’t taken mosquitoes and cockroaches on board to save them too. When the flood subsided and the earth was once again clean and pure, God assigned responsibility for the animals of the world to Noah and his family. And Noah went right out and planted a new vineyard and grew delicious grapes and made wonderful wines that he enjoyed to his heart’s content every day for the rest of his life. And that is how a great soul became recognized for essential kindness and decency, and how the concept of stewardship came into existence. Many people believe that there must always exist a remnant of decent caring people on earth to justify the world never again being destroyed in a great flood.
Well, it was as though a great flash of light opened our minds, and we realized that Mum was herself just such a person, and that she could be our Saint Belinda without having to wait until some institution decided that she was worthy and deserving. We already know that she is, and we have no reason to wait for any opinions from other people about it. We were so happy and so grateful to Old Muldoon for telling us about Noah O’Malley and his family and their experience with the animals and the flood. Old Muldoon is now our very dear and special friend for helping us out . We love him so much and are always jumping on his desk and snuggling on his lap, even when he is trying to get some work done.
Old Muldoon is especially happy that we have decided upon autonomous beatification and canonization that is totally free and clear of any institutional politics of any formal religious order or church. According to Old Muldoon, the more certain any formal doctrine’s followers are said to be concerning its rectitude, the more likely it is that there will be divergent views. A divergence of views about fundamental things, true and untrue, creates opposing groups, the adherents of which will soon come to despise and slander each other. As long as they stay within the ambit of their major institution, they will turn that organization into a battlefield. Thus each has its notion of its “true church”, always comprised of those who oppose change versus those who encourage change. Each group must, if it is to be authentic, assert that the acts of the other group are invalid and a usurpation of the “true” meaning of faith. Therefore, according to Old Muldoon, whoever initiates a process of beatification and canonization, sponsoring any candidate, will encounter opposition to the beatification process from all those who claim that the sponsor is a heretic who seeks to undermine the one true faith. By way of illustration, there are many who believe that everything done by the Papacy since Vatican II is utter nonsense, and that only the circumstances promoted by Pope Pius IX are valid and must remain forever unchanged. If you are unfamiliar with this particular history, move on to the next paragraph and forget what was just said. If you are familiar with it, no further explanation is needed. Old Muldoon urges us to avoid all this idiocy and beatify our own candidate. He is so smart. According to him, no one needs ever enter any church to be saintly. If one is a good, kind, generous person, no institutional endorsement is required to validate that person’s standing with God. Thus, if Belinda never goes into any church, she can still become a saint, and no kitties have ever been members of any church anyway. You can’t belong to a church unless you have an income and can make contributions. The poor are told that they can be members, but they can’t get appointments with anyone of significance or participate in any determinations about what is to be done with church policy or doctrine. They are allowed to come to services and go through the theater of being blessed by very subordinate priests so that they can practice becoming good at administering the sacraments for when they get to do that for the wealthy. Similarly, according to Old Muldoon, novice doctors operate on the poor and novice lawyers defend the indigent. Is he cynical or what?
Now, all that remains is for us to put together an agenda for the Feast of Saint Belinda. Since 15th October falls on a Wednesday this year, we can start the Feast of Saint Belinda on Sunday and run it for seven days throughout the week. Sunday morning is always a good time to do anything having to do with kitties and with Mum, because she devotes Sundays to caring for her kitties. We all get fresh bed blankets and linens, and our litter boxes are cleaned out and totally refreshed every Sunday. She makes a week’s supply of blended Science Diet cat food to accommodate the fact that we are of different ages with different nutritional requirements. On Sundays, Old Muldoon works for a while in his garden and cooks great meals, having by then fully recovered from his Friday evenings at Muldoons Pub. All the kitties who will be here on that Sunday will do something special for Mum. One of us will no doubt find a field mouse in some corner of the yard and catch it and bring it to Mum as some form of sacrificial offering. We will all see to it that mean old Mugsy stays out of the yard on Sunday, no matter what. We will try our very best to get along and not be catty all week long. We will take turns at the cat food dishes and water bowls, and not howl and hiss at one another to get to be fed first. We will not whine all week while Mum is seeing to other kitties. During the week the indoor kitties will spend extra time with Mum in her office, letting her know how much we love and appreciate her. And since Old Muldoon is an honorary member of the Kitty Committee, we know that he will do everything in his power all that week not to aggravate Mum. If you happen to be in Houston, Texas during the week of the Feast of Saint Belinda, you are cordially invited to stop in and join the party.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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