My family has always been the "animal-loving" type. There was never really a time where we didn't have a cat, a dog, or some combination of the two running about. The stories of how they came to live with us were just as unique and varied as their personalities. One in particular jumped to mind today, due to the aforementioned post on Dymphna's wall.
This post isn't about Dymphna's article. Instead, it's about the memory the commentary brought about, and I wanted to share it with you guys, many of whom are animal lovers just like me!
Anyway, back when I was in about 4th grade, we had recently lost our cat, Sparky. Sparky was a gorgeous tabby who was a mostly outdoors cat. He'd leave at night and come back in the mornings, turning up on my brother's bed, or whipping his tail in front of the fridge as he sprawled out on the mat we kept there. We were all pretty sad when he simply didn't show up anymore. We knew that he was older and my mom explained that when cats get older and are ready to die, they go off somewhere private to be at peace.
I always like to think they sneak off to die privately so we don't see their little souls shooting off to Heaven. Cats like to give off the impression that they're satanic little creatures who have hearts of steel, but us cat-loving humans know better... they're all furry little angels in disguise!
That all being said, we were highly bummed about Sparky, but God had plans for this animal-loving family!
One Sunday while we were at Mass, an extremely curious thing happened. A stray tabby cat (who looked an awful lot like a super young version of Sparky) came prancing into the church. He marched right up the aisle and into the sanctuary. He walked up the steps leading to the altar, and acted like the place was his. Fr. Gerry (a resident priest at the time) wasn't entirely sure what to do. He kept on with the Mass ('cause seriously... what else can ya do?), and parishioners just kinda giggled as they watched this plucky little cat running around the sanctuary.
My family ended up grabbing him (Mother was a Eucharistic Minister, sister was a lector, and brother was sacristan at the time... or maybe an altar server?). Anyway, at the end of Mass, Fr. Gerry asked what we were going to do with the cat. We ended up taking him home with us, absolutely smitten with his adorable personality.
When we got home, we figured we had to name him. So we tossed names into a hat. My brother thought it'd be funny to call him Pope because we found him in a church. He certainly acted like he owned the place, so it seemed fitting. Everyone kinda agreed it'd be funny to call him that, but no one really wanted to settle on that for a name. I guess it seemed a little wrong.
But Raymond threw that name into the hat anyway, no one really expecting it to be pulled. I only remember Blackie and Sparky II were two other choices. My mom pulled out Pope, and the name stuck. Ha ha. He was a wonderful, wonderful cat. Many years later, he unfortunately was attacked viciously by neighborhood kids. He lost an eye and was never quite the same. He ended up dying a short time later. But oh my... the love we had for our cat named Pope... what a wonderful memory to stumble upon today. He was such a little sweetie. May he be enjoying his own slice of Heaven with all our wonderful animal friends.
St. Francis, protect our beautiful animals and help us to be their faithful, trusty stewards.