Notes from a parish cat and his author Julie Mackenzie

My photo
I am Father Tom Fish, esteemed member of the religious team at Temptation of Christ Parish in the novels by author Julie Mackenzie. As to my background, I was invited into the rectory as a stray, laid on the charm, and was invited to stay, even honorarily ordained and no less spiritual than my sidekick Father Will. He dotes on me to high heaven and forgives all of my street cat proclivities, whatever the hell that means.

Friday, December 31, 2010

My Friend

Say what? I didn't believe it at first. My piss and vinegar pal has taken off for the Rainbow Bridge? But, he was tough as nails, tougher than I'll ever be. I'm angry and upset.

I've always tried to be good, but honestly, right now, I don't care. It's not fair. It gets me so mad, I don't give a damn about all that's holy! There, I said it, aaarghh!

After awhile, I realized I wasn't making any sense, and Vinny would have been the first one to point it out, too.

I've calmed down a little, but my heart's still all torn up. Vinny and I were good friends.

Julie and I finally had our conversation about him:

Tom: We were supposed to adopt him when Patsy died. That was the plan. What are you going to do about this, with your fancy-shmancy book and everything?

Julie: You're in the book, Tom, but Vinny--well, he was going to have a bigger role on the blog.

Tom: Well, his passing certainly shot that in the a**.

Julie: You're beginning to sound like him.

Tom: You bet. And it feels real good, too.

Julie: Do whatever makes you feel better. It's fine with me.

(a long silence)

Tom: I'd give anything just to talk to him one more time.

Julie: Me, too.


Tom: I love you, Jul.

Julie: I love you too, precious. We'll get through this, I promise. We'll continue our tales and your blog. I think I even have a couple of posts about Vinny, in fact, that I never used.

Tom: Really? Cool!

* * * * * * * * * * *

Thank you so much for all of your kind words and comfort. I heard from dear ones I didn't even know, but appreciate everything you all have said to help us through. I have read each and every one of your comments over and over. I never, ever imagined I would be sharing such sadness, or be lifted by such kindness. Again, thank you.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


When I was a little girl, all my questions started with "why"--why weren't there altar girls, why did smoke come out of smokestacks and wouldn't it make us sick?

Today, I'm asking why my dearest little man would have to leave this world.

I was with Vinny all last night. I slept on the couch and every couple of hours, I would check on him. His eyes were closed, he was still struggling with his breathing, but there was hope. I was grateful that he wasn't gasping for air, prompting me to have to take him to a vet hospital with strangers and strange equipment and lights in the middle of the night.

This morning, I was hoping he would show signs of improvement, but he didn't. His breathing became deeper and he couldn't move. He was helpless. I stayed with him, continued to give him diluted chicken broth, but I knew I couldn't do any more for him.

The vet clinic down the street opened at eight o'clock and the wonderful vet we saw yesterday was there and we talked on the phone. She told me to bring him right in. She could tell he was nearing the end. The tests from yesterday were back and liver and kidneys were fine, so she suspected the heart was failing. We decided not to let him suffer as his symptoms could sometimes lead to spasms and most of all, fright over what was happening to him. I wanted to help him to the Bridge under her care, talking to him as he left us.

Why? How can we get so close to our little friends and have them for only a short while? Some of us get closer to them than we get to other humans. We trust them and they trust us with every purr and woof. They cuddle with us, no questions ever asked, so accepting of everything and everyone.

Thank you, dear friends for all of your purrs and prayers. I appreciate all of you so very, very much. My writing at least gives me a way to express my grief and share my tears.


Monday, December 27, 2010

My Mancat Vinny

Here is my beautiful golden boy, the 16-year-old Vinny Blackwhisker. I normally don't post during the week, but tonight is an exception. Vinny, with his thyroid problems, now has an upper respiratory infection. I recently adopted a new kitty from the local shelter and that may be how he got it, even though there was no sign initially. Right away, our new addition was put on antibiotics, but Vinny, being vulnerable, picked it up.

Right now, I have a steaming teakettle sitting by his bed where he's curled up and resting. I took him to the vet today (thank God she's just down the street from where we live) and she looked him over, starting him on his own antibiotics. She also took some blood which we had planned for tomorrow to make sure his thyroid was getting enough medication.

Dear friends, I read so many of your blog posts where you patiently give your love and devotion to the pets you hold so dear. I ask for your purrs and prayers for him. His heart is strong. All of his organs are in good shape, but I worry about this latest respiratory illness and pray he doesn't go into distress. He's so thin. I would love to see him robust and healthy again. That would be my wish for the new year.

Well, I have to keep an eye on him. I have the emergency vet hospital's number where I can find it if we should need it during the night. I'm trying to think good thoughts, but I want to be ready, just in case.

As always, I appreciate your being there for us.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Smiles

Everyone liked this little nativity so much that we decided to show it again, lit up and magical.

I've found with the passing years that each Christmas is very different. There are some that are quiet, far too busy, or even overshadowed by grief. What's so wonderful is there will always be a Christmas to come with promise, new friends and hope for the spirit. I am grateful to all who have made this Christmas for us particularly special. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Tom & Julie

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

(as told to Vinny by his Grammie Blackwhisker)

'Twas the night before Christmas
And each and every mouse
Found cheese in his stocking
Some seeds and a grouse.

The cats were all lined up
By the chimney so bare
Not a stocking around
"We're so sad," they declared.

Suddenly on the roof there arose such a clatter
The startled cats looked up to see what was the matter
A big old guy in a bright red suit
Was coming down the chimney
They saw his black boot!

He discovered there was nothing for the cats at all
He was shocked, dismayed, and not the least, appalled.

He said, "It's unfair!"
"You mice need to share!"
Ashamed, the mice looked at each other and agreed
They had more than enough food to fill every need.
It was then decided all over the house
In the holiday spirit, they'd give up the grouse.

It's so simple, says Nick
In his jolly old way
For everyone to be happy
On this Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas!
--from our Temptation Parish family
Tom, Vinny, Jack, Will, the housekeeper Mary Lou
& creator J.R. Mackenzie
Love to all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Excitement's been building for the holidays!

The traffic in and out of the rectory has been crazy, all sorts of goodies are being dropped off, and my naps are almost non-existent. Peace on Earth?! I'd like to know when!

Anyway, please excuse my crankiness. I was so excited and surprised by Vinny's gift this week. It was something I never would have expected or even guessed.

My first reaction was--uh-oh, Cat Nativity? What could he be up to? Well, I needn't have worried. After we lifted up the styrofoam and saw all the figures, we were amazed at how adorable they were!

There were the three kings, a shepherd, angel..

We couldn't believe our eyes! A baby Jesus kitten and Joseph Cat and Mary Cat!

Vinny, you outdid yourself, my friend! I couldn't be happier with your present! It was such a surprise and, in true Vinny fashion, very unique! Thank you so much.

I hope you have the best holiday ever and please give your mom Patsy a big hug from us.

I think I just found a nice, quiet place to sleep. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Church(the)Cat

Fur like ermine, meoww! No mattes as far as this eye can see, I'm so jealous! Here is his story:

The DeLaets of Plainwell, Michigan met our friend on the church steps when they went to attend services one Sunday about four years ago. According to Beth Ann DeLaet, a columnist for the local newspaper, this kitty started greeting parishioners on the steps of the Plainwell Methodist Church.

Despite the fact that he was a very friendly little fellow, she was not taken in, no sirreee! They had two cats at home and that was enough! So, we imagine he wanted to try something else. Either that, or this was his way of dubbing his new family. Anyway, she says he followed them to their van in the parking lot, jumped in and sat between the seats as if to say, "Can we go home, now?"

They named him "Church" and he enjoys his life with the DeLaet family. They can't imagine being without him, but that does happen once in awhile. It is then that he gives in to those primal urges sending him outside for a quick refresher on his prior life. He has always returned.

By the way, she mentioned that he bears no resemblance to the cat "Church" in Stephen King's Pet Sematary. There was a cat with that name in that book? Now, that's scary!

My thanks to Beth who shared her story and provided pictures of her handsome boy, prompting this from me--it's one thing to go to church, it's quite another to have Church come to you!

I know that was too corny for words, and I've given Angel Matilda indigestion, but as we all know, I have a weakness for corny jokes. Since we haven't had one in awhile, here's a chuckle as you get your Christmas shopping done:

One shopper was standing in line with another. To pass the time, they started talking about their husbands. "Mine is so hard to buy for," said one. The other said she had no problem at all. Amazed, the woman asked how she did it. "Oh," she said, "my husband's a plumber. As long as he doesn't have to drain it, flush it, stop it or mop it, he's happy."


Friday, December 3, 2010

Vinny's View

Hi, everybody,

I'm Vinny Blackwhisker and old Tom has allowed me to post for him this week. I think it's a double-dog dare as to whether or not I can really do it, whether I'm reliable enough to make sure a post gets done at all.

I'm not in the habit of forgetting things, thank you very much. I like my travel and I travel light. I do as I damn well please. I won't ever have a blog of my own or anything even close. I'm only doing this because Tom doesn't think I will...and, he doesn't think I'll keep it clean.

I thought I'd put in another picture of the two of us. I met Tom when he first came to Temptation Parish. In fact, truth be told, our roles could have been reversed. I might very well have gotten to the housekeeper first, won her over with my charms and been Father Vinny. But, that would have forced me to change.

The holidays are coming up and I can't wait. All the crawl-under or into places will be lit with candles and sparkly things. Yes, I go to church, too, but I lay low. I like it better that way.

So, keep me in your prayers. My thyroid is acting up which means pills, and I look like a stringbean. I'm getting old, too. I'll be turning 17 soon. Little old lady cats are starting to look hot.

In for Tom,