Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in
knew who Ugly was.
Ugly was the resident tomcat. Ugly loved three things in
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
hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his
left foot 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.
Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby,
striped type, except for the sores covering his head,
neck, and even his shoulders. 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
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
your 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
One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbor's dogs. They did not
respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. 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. As I picked him up and tried to
carry him home, I could hear him wheezing and gasping,
and could feel him struggling. It 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.
moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving
creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite
or scratch me, 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.
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.
want to be richer, more successful,
well liked, beautiful, popular, but for me...
I will always try to be Ugly.