Cal and Tuddie . . .

the Hypnotist and the Puddie Cat

 

by Shirl A. Steward

Dedicated to
the memory of Dr. Cal White,
the Ďrealí hypnotist
and the real "Tuddie"
who had belonged to Ďrealí Cal.
Tuddie went out one day
and never returned.
I do miss both of them.
 

Inside a small steel gray cage at a pet shop lay a beautiful long-haired white kitten with large splashes of gray. Someone had brought her some awful green pellets that she refused to eat. It smelled bad and tasted horrible. But, even if it had been okay, she didnít feel like eating anyway.

She was very sad for she didnít understand this strange new place. It was a prison that was cold and unfriendly. Most of all she missed her sisters, brothers and mother. They had been there beside her just a few days earlier. Where could they have gone?, she thought. She didnít know she was the last of her litter left to be sold and her mother was gone forever. She watched the many people who came to look at her. One by one her sisters all were taken away and didnít come back. Now they were gone and she was alone.

So, it really did seem like forever before someone finally came to take her away too. It was really cold that night and the warmth of a hand woke her up. Little fingers were poking gently at her. It felt okay, she thought.

"I like this tuddie tat Cal. She is SO purr-ty", said the little girl.

"She is pretty, isnít she? Awful skinny though. Probably misses itís mother. Poor thing. But, she is awfully handsome with all that long hair.", he said smiling. "Okay, weíll take this one miss."

They waited as the attendant took the cat out of the cage. The kitty perked up but only for a moment. She resisted and scratched the attendant as she tried to put she into a carrier. Obviously she didn't like small enclosed places.

"Ouch!", she screamed, "Jeez. Sheís teething probably. Donít worry sheíll calm down once you get her home."

"Yeah. Sheís probably really scared and wondering whyís all this happening to her.", the man said, "Still want her, right Cindy girl?", he looked at the girl for an answer.

The girl nodded. "What shall we call you, little tuddie tat?"

"How about Tuddie? Youíre already calling her that and youíll be around her a lot since Iím marrying your mom in a few weeks."

"Okay, thatís purrr-fit. I like that. Do you like it, Tuddie?", the little girl said eagerly. Tuddie just sat in the cage starring at both of them, looking very unhappy. "Are you gonna make her do tricks Cal? Make her come out of a hat or somethin . .?"

"No, honey I just want a little cat to love. Iím retired from doing hypnotist tricks. You know that. Anyway, she doesnít look like sheís up for any tricks at least not today."

"But you promised Cal, for my births-day!"

"Oh, thatís different. Well, maybe if I can get Tuddie to sit still long enough I could make her come out of a hat. Sheíll probably want to disappear more though . . . especially after meeting your cat Gingsy.í, Cal chuckled. Tuddie looked as if she understood what was being said. Her eyes narrowed like she was very wary of the whole situation.

"Old Gingsy will like her. I hope so anyways." Cindy giggled and silently imagined Tuddie saying, "Old Gingsy doesnít have a chance with the likes of me. Iíll be taking over the house."

The ride back to Cindyís house was a long one. Tuddie meowed so much Cal stopped and took her out of the carrier. "I probably shouldnít do this but youíre so blasted noisy, little one!" Tuddie jumped into Cindyís lap and cuddled up as if the cat had planned doing this all along. Then, all was quiet and both fell into a contented asleep.

Cal looked over at the sleeping child. He wasnít sure if he was ready for playing the father role again at 69. He already had three grown children and six grandkids. But they were all so far away and involved in their own busy lives. They had no time for their dad. But, Cindy never knew her father. He left just after she was born. So ironic and sad it was, he thought.

Cal pulled into the driveway by Cindyís house. "You look so much like little Emily when she was young.", he said softly, as he picked her up gently to take her into the house. A tear came to his eye as all the memories flooded back.

The movement woke Cindy up. "We home?"

"Sure are sweetie. I bought Tuddie in too. She ran into your room first off. Gingsy must have scared her. She seems to really likes your bed. You want her to sleep there with you?"

"Oh yes, can she?", pleaded the half awake child. "She can sleep with me and Teddy. Iím so scared. Itís so dark in here. Will you sleep with us too?"

"Okay on the cat. If Gingsy has seen her, then itís probably better she stay in here. But, Iím tired honey. Iíll be on the couch. Your momís not coming back until Friday so youíre stuck with me for another two days. But we can leave the nitelight on. Is that all okay with you?"

"Oh yeah, I guess itís okay. Youíre great Cal. Thanks. Youíre gonna be my daddy. Youíre not like other daddies. Well, I donít know much about that." Cindy paused, almost tearful. "But, youíre really fun and tell me jokes and stories too. And, I want a daddy. I never had one." Tears filled her eyes now. "Hey, can you tell me a story anyway?"

"Ha! Thanks. Youíre fun too kid and I do want to be your dad. Yeah, Iíll tell you a story. Then bed, right?"

"Yeah!", Cindy was now wide awake and ready.

"Well, what kind of story do you want tonight? Cinderella and the dashing prince charming? Or Puss and Boots . . . maybe Beauty and the Beast?"

"Tell me about how you worked with all the famous hypnotists."

"Oh my, you donít want to hear that again, do you? I worked on so many stages with the most famous but never made it big myself. Makes me kind of sad now that Iím retiring. Donít really feel like talking about it right now. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, okay. So tell me that story you told before . . . about the orphan prince who came to America and got to be famous as an artist."

"Oh jeez! Why that one?", said Cal, a bit concerned.

"Because Iím an orphan too . . . sort of cause Iíve got no dad and mommyís always working. I like how he was once a prince and all too . .. then he gets happy. I want to be happy like that" Cindy looked down and was quiet for a second. It was obvious that there was something else she wanted to say. "Tuddieís an orphan too, isnít she?"

"Yes, they said her momís just up and left . . . vanished."

"So, whereíd her mommy go? Hey, anyway, . . . Cal, . . . uh um . . . whereíd my daddy go? Where did the princeís parents go? I want to know, please? Tell me the story of where people go when they die. They all died, right? No one will tell me. The teacher at school wouldnít say and said I should ask my mom."

"Ah. . . umm. Well, yes, sweetheart, they did all die." Cal said, a bit uneasy about the subject matter. "Tuddieís mommy theyíre not so sure about because she left her kittens after only a few weeks and never came back. Cats donít do that sort of thing. They stay with their litter until they are ready to be on their own. But, I guess theyíre all in heaven and Tuddieís mom in kitty cat heaven."

"Well, Iím going to be her new mommy. Iíll take care of her. Hey, Iíve heard people say there ainít no heaven. Are they right?"

"Iíve never been there, of course, but I am a hypnotist and some people say theyíd seen heaven when they are hypnotized. Also, they can recall what theyíve seen before they are about to die and then donít die for some reason. Near death experiences, they call um. Yes, Iíve hypnotized quite a few of these people. They say itís a beautiful place, at least what they could see of it. Iíve even hypnotized people who believe they see other lives they have lived before this one. If they are really seeing into other lives they have actually lived, then obviously, death isnít such a bad thing, is it? It is just a transition to another place, another plan of existence as some call it. Itís a place where people get to think about what they did in their current life and where they need to go next to become a better person."

"Cats I donít know so much about.", continued Cal, "They are considered Ďfamiliarí spirits and come to certain people over and over again in different lives. They arenít good or bad as such. They take on the personality of the person they are with, mostly and become very attached to them." Cal looked at the expression on Cindyís face of extreme interest. "Well you better get some sleep young lady or your mom will be mad at me." It was an attempt to change the subject, for sure.

"No, donít stop now. How did my dad die? And, the princeís parents? Heís a real person, isnít he?", asked Cindy with much anticipation.

"Uhh. Well, yes, the prince was a real person. I met him when I was in the city. He said his father and mother were thrown into prison by government people who did not want him on the throne. Then they were put to death. In fact, he believes he is heir to the crown and to a fortune, neither of which he can ever claim. It is a very sad tale indeed."

"And, my dad? How about my dad?", begged Cindy.

"Well, . . . ", He paused again, catching his breath. "Your father died in the gulf war. He won an award because he died while trying to protect some other men so that the enemy would not know they was there. Funny because he didnít believe in war. He didnít want to shoot anyone because he believed it wasnít right. Nor do I Cindy. I hate war and everything about it. And, Cindy I have to tell you something else that might surprise you. I knew your father and I loved him. He was a wonderful man who really cared about other people. He loved you and your mother very much." Cal paused for another second. "I was one of the men he was trying to protect.", tears welled in Cal eyes.

"Thanks for telling me about dad, Cally. No one else would. Youíre my daddy now though. I never knew him. I am like him, right? And, heís in heaven now. He is, isnít he?"

"Well, donít be mad at your mom. I know she would have told you eventually. We talked about it many times. She just wasnít sure you were ready." Calís voice became light and more cheerful, "And, yes, youíre very much like him. Wanted to know IT ALL just like you, pumpkin!! He even wanted me to teach him how to be a hypnotist. A darn good student too. Ha! Yes, heís a spirit in heaven right now. In fact," Cal paused, not knowing if he should go on, "I have seen him here with you sometimes. He likes to watch you sleep."

"You can see him?", she asked in amazement. Cal nodded in agreement to her. "Oh, youíre just saying that.", she retorted.

"Okay, letís test it then. Just think of a favorite smell youíve always enjoyed, no donít tell me, just think of it, wait a few seconds now . . . okay breathe in. Do you smell it?"

"Yeah, I do. Howíd you do that?", laughed Cindy.

"Well, I didnít do it. Iím a hypnotist and magician but Iím not that good. It was your dad. He was standing on your left side just now and he was smiling."

"Can you ask him to do something else?", asked Cindy, again very much amazed and excited.

"Yes, YOU can? Close your eyes and ask him to do something simple to show heís here. Then just wait and see what happens."

A few seconds later a small stuffed animal fell from Cindyís bureau.

"Wow. That was neat. Heís really here, isnít he? Though I canít touch him or see him. I wish I could.", Cindy felt so sad. "What good is it to know heís there when Iíve never even known him?"

"Your dad loves you even though he does understand that you canít really appreciate that love. Someday youíll realize how much his love surrounds you and protects you. Other people donít have that. Youíll see how much it makes a difference in the way you view life. When you feel loved, the whole world is different."

"Yeah, someday maybe I can help bring love to other people whoíve never felt loved. That would be a good thing, wouldnít it?"

"Yes, a VERY good thing, my dear. But, now it is time for bed, young lady!!"

Cindy sighed and gave in, "Okay, okay." She paused and spoke softly, "Hey, would you come back and visit me if you were to die and you could do it?"

"Oh, heavens. Yes, of course, Iíd come back to visit you. Tell you what . . . Iíd bring you the smell of lavender whenever Iím near. Just think of me and Iíll be there. Iíll do that. I promise you. Donít forget now."

Tuddie was already asleep and settled in for the night. Cal petted her and she purred. His touch was light but she still woke. She looked up at Cal like she knew what he was thinking. "Boy, youíre a strange one, girl.", Cal whispered. "If I didnít know better, Iíd say you knew exactly what was said tonight. Well, youíre a perfect match for my little Cindy and thatís all that matters. You have a home forever or for as long as you want it. You hear?" Tuddie let out a very soft meow and her body hummed under Cal hand as he touched her. "Very strange you are indeed, little one." Cal left the room. He knew that Gingsy wasnít a very friendly cat and never even came in Cindyís room. So Tuddie was a perfect companion for Cindy. All was good . . . at least for the moment.

Weeks went by and so did the wedding and the adoption that made Cal Cindyís real adopted father. Cindy was really proud of her new dad. She especially loved all the school father and daughter functions she could be able to take and show off her new father, the not so famous hypnotist.

And, soon it was Cindyís birthday party time. Cal was true to his word and, although he didnít have a lot of money, he still came in the prettiest new clown costume he could rent for the occasion. He did all his usual tricks plus a whole lot more. Well, he used to work as a stage hypnotist so he figured he owed his new little daughter one really great birthday party. He even dressed up Tuddie in a cute little clown costume too, pulled her out of the hat, made her disappear and then reappear. Tuddie performed like a true showcat. Then, Cal hypnotized some of the kids and made them do funny things. Cal was glad to see Cindy laughing nonstop at his antics.

Cal and Cindy laughed at Tuddie who refused to jump through a hoop. Cal picked her up and put her in just the right position so sheíd jump. She did of course. Ginsy, just looked on in disgust. They tried to make her but she wasnít going to jump through any hoops. Sheíd adjusted okay to having another cat in the house but it was obvious she didnít like her competition for affection.

It was all good fun but then something happened. The fun came to an abrupt halt. Cal let out a scream. His new wife Joan called for an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital. It all happened so fast. In less than two hours Cal was gone. He died from too much fluid flooding his lungs.

Joan stood holding her still husbandís hand, wondered how she would ever explain to Cindy that she had lost another father. She couldnít even believe it herself. It had only been a few weeks since their honeymoon. But, she didnít have to wait to tell Cindy. Cindy was standing behind her with Tuddie in her arms. She had wandered in when the nurses werenít looking . . .she was tired of waiting so long.

"Howís daddy?", Cindyís question woke her mother from her trance state.

"Cindy? Heís okay." Joan paused realizing she had just told the biggest lie in her whole life and to her only daughter, "No, no . . . heís not okay Cindy. He is gone like your father is gone."

"No, heís not gone.", said Cindy in a calm monotone.

"Yes, he is honey. Please donít say that. Iím sorry but heís gone forever from both of us.", Joan felt the tears roll down her cheeks . . . the tears she could no longer hold back.

"No, heís NOT gone, mom. He just went somewhere else, thatís all. Donít you smell the lavender? Itís so sweet. He told me that if he died and I smelled lavender, it was because he was there with me. Heís not gone!", Cindyís tone was still very calm and reassuring.

The smell of lavender was strong. There was no question about it. Even at the funeral and at the grave, it was strong and not a lavender flower was in sight anywhere. No one could figure it out. The minister called it miraculous. But Cindy knew different . . .

It was her dad. How proud she was of him keeping his promise. He proved to her that life didnít end with death. It went on even after the body had ceased to exist. It was sad to lose her father but it was also joyous for her to know that life continues on and that, in reality, she never really lost him.

Ten years later Cindy could still smell the scent of lavender all around her whenever she thought of her stepfather. She was in high school now and Tuddie was still her cat. And, Calís, of course, because he seemed constantly around both of them. She often laughed thinking that Tuddie had to be the familiar spirit that belonged to her stepdad and now to her. She knew also that Tuddie was a very special cat. If it hadnít been for Tuddie, a certain special conversation with Cal would never have taken place. It was a conversation sheíd never forget. It didnít matter that she had been so young. Some things one never forgets and this was one of those things for Cindy.

She now knew what her stepfather had meant in their talk about life and death so many years earlier. Yes, so many years ago and yet . . . she could feel the warm of love from both her father and stepfather always with her. And, someday she knew sheíd make it her lifeís work to bring love into the lives of those who had never known it. This she felt with much conviction. It was a promise she made to her stepfather every time he came to visit. And, sometimes, she could have sworn she saw him standing there laughing and talking to her . . . just like he always had.

And, Tuddie? Well, she was special. She knew exactly when to cuddle and comfort Cindy when she was sad. It was like Tuddie could read her thoughts and feelings. It was a strange but wonderful thing for Cindy. She also knew her stepfather was there, not just because of the lavender smell. Tuddie often showed her like she had been instructed by someone! Many times Tuddie jumped up on a shelf and knocked her stepfatherís diary into her hands for her to read. It was her favorite of all books. She was so glad her stepfather had taken the time to write in it. He had given it to her on that last birthday of hers they had spent together. Some day maybe sheíd publish it too.

All very unusual? Could this really happen? Definitely! . . . is the answer to both questions because it really did! The real Cal lived a very charmed life and all those touched by him were truly blessed. He knew that life is a continuous circle that never ends. Even this story doesnít really end. For this was just the beginning of a journey for all the many Cindys in existence and of Calís lasting affect upon the world.

Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end)