Mr. Goldaus had three sons. One afternoon he sent them out to the backyard with lunch so he could have some peace and quiet. As the boys were chatting about narwhals, they simultaneously realized someone was staring at them from above.
“It’s a cat!” said Robbie.
“It’s a tiny mountain lion!” said Chip.
“No! It’s Bongo!” said Ernie.
“What!?” questioned Robbie and Chip.
“Meow?” exclaimed Winston.
“That’s his name! He’s our new pet!”
“That is not even close to my name. And I am just here for your tuna, small annoying humans.” thought Winston to himself, jumping down to them. They all wanted to feed him at once, and the cat did not complain as he devoured the tasty fish. Ernie began to pet him as he finished eating. It had been a long time since Winston had felt that, and he rather liked it. Suddenly, he was being scooped up and taken inside as the boys excitedly went to show their father. Mr. Goldaus was reading the paper and shooed them away hardly noticing.
“So we can keep him?” asked Chip.
”Just keep it away from me. I hate cats.”
“Yay for Bongo!” the three cheered together.
Winston was confused by this sudden environment change, but he oddly found he liked the attention from the children and was entertained by their play. Plus, they gave him lots of tuna fish and other tasty treats. The care they provided was not ideal, as they hardly knew what they were doing, but Winston decided he liked this life better than being alone. He was their pet for over 2 years, until Mr. Goldaus got a new job and it was time to move.
“That obnoxious creature will not be traveling with us, boys. He has easily angered me every day since we got him and I will not be spending 9 hours in the car with him. We will take him to the shelter in the morning. Maybe we’ll get a dog at the new place. They are far superior.” said the father. The boys were sad at first, but became excited at the prospect of a dog instead. As time had past, they had become less and less interested in Winston anyway.
“Good bye, Bongo! Have fun!” said Robbie, Chip, and Ernie as they dropped him off at the shelter.
“Still, not my name. Also, this is very rude.” said Winston. Yet they paid no attention as they walked on toward their new life leaving the old behind.
Winston was not alone, but he felt like he was. Kept in a glass cage with all his basic needs, he felt restless and bored.
“Happy Birthday to me.” said Winston, gloomily, on the day he turned 6. “If it is a happy birthday… which I doubt.”
Most everyday people would come in and look at Winston, some would say hello and wave. He meowed a greeting at them. Then they soon walked away to look at the others. The younger cats were frequently coming and going. He would hear his caretakers say “congratulations on your forever home!” as a cat was being adopted into a family. Winston wondered if that could ever happen to him.
“Here comes someone!” said the voice of the female cat beside him. “They will clearly be amazed by my beauty and charm, unlike your disheveled grumpy look. I will become the queen of their home and they will adore me!” Winston rolled his eyes at her arrogance. Sure enough, the visitor was smitten by the female and took her home. Winston, however, had hardly been given a second look. Other prospective owners read his information and said he was too old to adopt. Thus, he hopelessly surrendered to his new life in the cage and stopped trying to reach out to the humans.
After 3 years at the shelter, a young child approached the older cat and began talking to him. Winston perked up a bit and listened to the child ramble on about how they really wanted a horse, however their parents recommended a cat.
“I want this one!” said Avery. “He’s a good listener!”
“Okay, sweetie.” replied the mother. “An older cat should be easy to take care of and not destroy the house.”
“Hurray for Horsey!” cheered Avery.
“Horsey?” meowed Winston. “That’s worse than Bongo! Oh well, at least I’ll have a forever home.”
The 8 year old cat was being dressed up like a horse. A toy cowboy (who kept talking about a snake in his boots) was riding on a saddle on the cat’s back. Winston was not amused.
“Giddy-up!” shouted Avery. Winston laid down.
“No! Bad Horsey! You’re supposed to do things my way!” This power struggle went on for many weeks.
One day, the child’s parents won the lottery. They bought a farm and excitedly told Avery they could now afford a real horse.
“Hurray! This cat’s no good. He won’t eat apples, gallop, or let me brush him.”
“He also scratched up the door frames, destroyed the curtains, and threw up in our bed!” said the mother with an annoyed tone. “We’ll leave him outside when we go. He was a stray cat before so he’ll be fine.”
And thus, Winston watched from the driveway as their vehicle drove off without him.
The abandoned cat was alone; again. He wandered the neighborhood adjusting back into life as a stray. It wasn’t hard, and he enjoyed having the space to roam. Climbing trees was one of his favorite hobbies. Once, a tall oak tree caught his attention and he began to climb it. Looking down he could see some teens kicking a ball around. The motion was entertaining to him so he decided to get a good view from the longest branch. Winston strolled confidently along the branch when suddenly he felt a rush of warm air and saw a blue light. He looked down in confusion.
No youth to be seen. No ball. Nothing familiar at all.
“Where… am I?” said Winston, baffled. He climbed down to explore, eyes wide. The ground was soft, the air smelled like flowers, and in the distance he heard music of some kind. Everything seemed more vibrant than any place he’d ever been. Suddenly, a growl.
“Who.. who’s there?” he stammered, looking behind him.. and then up, up, up, into the eyes of a six foot tall wolf with dark red fur.
Speechless with shock, Winston ran up the oak tree again, not looking back. He made it to the longest branch when the warm air and blue light filled his senses once more. The sound of a ball being kicked found his ears and he realized he was back. He was panting with fear at the unnerving sight.
“Huh.” he said to himself, once he caught his breath. “I.. must have fell asleep and had a nightmare.” It was no dream, but that’s another story.
As the days passed, Winston became deeply lonely. He thought of his human mother, Hannah, and all she had shown him about love. No one had loved him since.
“But didn’t mother say ‘Love always wins’? I don’t believe it.” he thought, dolefully.
On a cold winter night, Winston sought warmth on a stranger’s porch. He was so tired and frozen he did not bother running off when he heard footsteps coming slowly toward the door. He heard a sad sound coming from the human. He remembered a similar sound coming from Hannah before. It meant she needed comforting. Winston looked up.
The old man was alone. It was Christmas Eve and his family was not coming, nor could he get to them. Returning from a church service, tears streamed down his face as he looked into the eyes of a orange and white cat on his porch.
“Oh!” said Fredrick. “You poor thing. No one should be alone on Christmas. Come on in. I have tuna!”
“Tuna!” Winston excitedly entered the warm house, relieved to be out of the cold. He rubbed up against the man’s legs to say thank you and to comfort his sadness. They spent a peaceful and not so lonely Christmas together. Winston enjoyed listening to Fredrick share all about his life.
“I am going to call you Lazarus.” said Fredrick. “Because you have a new life with me now! And I love you.”
Winston knew this was not his name, but he accepted it. And he trusted the man’s love because of the caring way in which he was treated. When Spring came, Fredrick let Winston out sometimes to enjoy the outside world. The now 9 year old cat was grateful for a little adventure, but always returned home to cuddle with his caretaker. They were the best of friends.
One evening, Winston returned home ready for dinner as usual. He meowed loudly, but the door did not open. Where was his friend? He waited on the porch all night and through the next day. He felt worried and lonely. The following morning, some friends of Fredrick came. Suddenly, a commotion began. Winston hid under the porch and thought about how much he loved the old man. Soon, he watched as his friend was carried out of the home and put into the back of a strange vehicle which rode off down the street.
“Not again.” said Winston. He sorrowfully walked down the road and came across a church. He distracted himself watching some robins in the yard and then began to reflect through his whole nine lives up to that point.
The thoughtful and heavyhearted cat on the church steps was brought back to reality as the loud sound of an organ filled the air. The service was over. Winston moved off the steps into the yard as people flowed out the doors.
“Mommy!” said a young boy. “My prayer has been answered already! Look!” he cried in excitement, pointing at the despondent cat. Winston started to run off, as he had not had great experiences with children in the past. He stopped abruptly and looked back when he heard a different voice.
“Kitty!” A woman locked eyes with him. The voice was familiar and the woman’s eyes widened.
“Winston?” she said softly.
The cat’s mood lifted.
“That’s my name!” he meowed. “And that’s my mother!”
“Winston!” called Hannah. “It’s you!”
They ran towards each other and the cat jumped into her arms. The mother cried tears of joy and bent down to show her son.
“Samuel, this is Winston; your big brother I once told you about!”
Winston beamed. “My little brother! Just like you prayed for, Mother!” he meowed, licking the boys face. Samuel laughed and hugged him.
“I was just praying for God to send me a brother this morning!” said the boy. The onlooking churchgoers cheered at the miracle they were witnessing. Then Hannah and Samuel took Winston home; for good.
That night, Hannah read familiar words to her two sons from a book she said was very special; The Bible.
“Love is patient and kind. Loves does not envy or boast. Love is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always wins. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7”
Frequently, as the contented cat cuddled with his mother she would whisper in his ear:
“Love wins, Winston.” He smiled, purred, and believed her.