Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat.
Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and shall we say, love. The combination of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on Ugly.
To start with, he had only one eye, and where the other should have been was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his left foot has appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner. His tail has long since been lost, leaving only the smallest stub, which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby striped-type, except for the sores covering his head, neck, even his shoulders with thick, yellowing scabs.
Every time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction. “That’s one UGLY cat!!”
All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave.
Ugly always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around feet in forgiveness. Whenever he spied children, he would come running meowing frantically and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.
One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbors huskies. They did not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. From my apartment I could hear his screams, and I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly’s sad life was almost at an end.
Ugly lay in a wet circle, his back legs and lower back twisted grossly out of shape, a gaping tear in the white strip of fur that ran down his front. As I picked him up and tried to carry him home I could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. I must be hurting him terribly I thought.
Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear - Ugly, in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring. Even in the greatest pain, that ugly battled-scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion.
At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, or even try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.
Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held him for a long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true pureness of spirit, to love so totally and truly. Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful. He had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and deeply. To give my total to those I cared for.
Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me, I will always try to be Ugly.
” This thing trying to break us down — don’t let that affect us. “
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, ‘I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five, now I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty, once more, babies play ‘round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me. My wife is now dead.
I look at the future. I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years, and the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles. Grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, A young man still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people. Open and see.
Not a cranky old man.
Look closer .. See.. Me.