Ugly

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 age 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, and 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 ever someone picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.

One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbor’s 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.

It was time to give my all 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 like Ugly.

Manila City Hall Aerial Shot

Notice the aerial shot of Manila City Hall. It is of the same shape of a coffin. Creepy isn’t it?

When I was a child, I have been visiting this building to see my mom’s aunt who was the Clerk of Court of Manila and at the same time Chief Officio Sheriff. I was not aware of any aerial shot of this building until last night I saw it on T.V. Scared as I was, I didn’t bother to take a look at it immediately on T.V. But curiosity hit me, I still googled it and alas, I saw it. I wonder if the architects and engineers are aware of it.

Psychic feels strong presence in each level. Hmm creepy isn’t it.

The Hospital Window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Epilogue:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present.

Ice Cream

Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace.

As we bowed our heads he said, “God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!”

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby I heard a woman remark, “That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t even know how to pray. Asking God for ice-cream! Why, I never!”

Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, “Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?”

As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said,
“I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.”
“Really?” my son asked.
“Cross my heart,” the man replied.

Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), “Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.”

Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life.

He picked up his sundae and without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her,

“Here, this is for you.Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already.”

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is without doubt one of the most spectacular castles in Britain, if not the world. It has been a Royal residence since the reign of William I in the 11th century. In the 13th century the castle was rebuilt by Edward III, and further improvements have been made by successive monarchs. The castle is almost one mile in circumference and is the largest in Britain. Since it was built, the Castle has been embroiled in legends of suicide, witchcraft and demonic ghosts. The list of ghostly sightings reported at the Castle is huge.

One of the most famous ghosts reported at the Castle is that of King Henry VIII. Guests staying at the castle have reported hearing the king’s footsteps along the long hallways of the Castle. Some have even claimed to hear moans and groans coming from the hallway. One of his wives, Anne Boleyn, has been seen standing at the window in the Dean’s Cloister.

Queen Elizabeth I haunt the Royal Library and is said to have been seen by several members of the Royal family. The sounds of her high heels are heard on bare floorboards, before her imposing figure appears and passes through the library and into an inner room. She has also been seen standing at the window in the Dean’s Cloister. She is always dressed in a black gown with a black lace shawl draped over her shoulders.

There is a demonic horned being said to bring death and disease to those who are unfortunate enough to see it, especially the Royal family. Other legends tell of witchcraft and suicide.

In the last 250 years, hundreds of people have claimed to have seen the spirit of Herne the Hunter, who was the favourite huntsman of King Richard II. He is often seen accompanied by his pack of hounds, careering across the Great Park searching for lost souls.

The story is that Herne was one of the Royal keepers in the time of King Richard II (1367-1400). Herne had two large black hounds and was hated by the other keepers because of his great skill. One evening King Richard was hunting a stag in the grounds of Windsor Park, but the stag turned on him and he would have been killed if Herne hadn’t stood between the enraged animal and Richard.

However, Herne was fatally wounded and fell to the ground. At this point a strange dark man appeared and said he could cure Herne. Richard asked him to go ahead and the dark man cut the stag’s head off and put it on Herne’s body. The Dark Man then took Herne away to his hut on Bagshot Heath some miles away, to complete the cure. The King was so grateful to Herne that he swore that if Herne recovered he would make him his chief keeper.

The other keepers disliked Herne so much that they wished that he would die. The Dark Man overheard them and offered them a bargain – if they would grant him the first request he made, he would ensure that, though Herne would recover, he would lose all his hunting skills. They agreed and everything happened as the Dark Man said. Herne was so distraught at the loss of his skill that he found a mighty oak in Windsor Park and hanged himself from it. Instantly, his body disappeared.

The other keepers weren’t happy for long though, because they too lost all their hunting abilities. They found the Dark Man and asked him to help them. He said that if they went to the oak the following night, they would have a solution to their problem. When they went to the Oak, the spirit of Herne appeared to them. He told them to go and fetch his hounds and horses for a chase.

This they did and when they returned, Herne took them to a Beech tree. There he invoked the Dark Man who burst from the tree in a shower of sparks and flame. His first request of the unfortunate keepers was that they form a band for Herne the Hunter. Bound by their oath, they had to swear allegiance to Herne. After that, night after night, they hunted through the forests.

The ghostly hunt’s approach is presaged by flashes of lightning, wind in the tree tops, the rattling of chains and tolling of bells and the terrible din of a pack of dogs in mad pursuit. As the legend goes, if you hear the baying of the ghostly hounds in the sky, run away, because if they catch you, you too will be forced to follow Herne and his Wild Hunt, ranging across the night skies for eternity.

In the early 1860’s the tree from which Herne was found hanging, was cut down, and Queen Victoria kept the oak logs for her fire “To help kill the ghost”. Her plan didn’t work however.

King Charles I has often been seen in the library and the Canon’s house. Although he was beheaded during the English Revolution, his ghost is seen as a whole. It is reported that he looks exactly like his portraits.

King George III had many bouts with mental deterioration. During these times he was kept out of the public’s eye. He has been seen looking out the windows located below the Royal Library, where he was confined during the recurrence of his illness.

Sir George Villiers, The first Duke of Buckingham, is said to haunt one of the bedrooms of Windsor castle.

The Deanery is haunted by a young boy who shouts, “I don’t want to go riding today”. It is probably his footsteps which are heard in the same building.

The ‘Prison Room’ in the Norman Tower is haunted, possibly by a former Royalist prisoner from Civil War times. Children playing there have seen him and adults have felt him brush past.

Ghostly footsteps are often heard on the staircase in the Curfew Tower. On one occasion, the bells began to swing on their own while the temperature became distinctly chilly.

In 1873, a night-time visitor to the castle noticed an interesting new statuary group had been erected near St. George’s Chapel: three standing figures, all in black, and a fourth crouching down. The central standing character was in the act of striking with a large sword. The sentry knew nothing of this artwork and when the visitor returned to re-examine it, it had gone!

Many spirits haunt the Long Walk, one of whom is a young Grenadier Guard who shot himself while on duty there in the 1920s. During his guard watch, he saw marble statues moving “of their own accord.” He was seen by at least two of his colleagues, immediately after his death.