About Us

There are four of Them: three girls and one boy, little stair-steps all. There are two of Us: best friends, co-parents and truly in love. The Six of us have epic adventures full of laughter and love, occasionally containing tears, but always together.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Stained Glass Cat of Westminster Abbey

Dadam and I had the very good fortune of living in the same city as much of our extended family right after PrincessE was born.  My grandparents live there, as do Aunts and Uncles of both of us.  It was really, really nice to be so close to so much family.

As we were getting ready to move, my Nana offered us a set of 12 books that had been hers when she was a child.  (To give you some idea of their maturity, my Papa just turned 80! on Sunday!  Happy Birthday, Papa!) They are a beautiful set of books that have survived many moves and it is lovely to peruse them.  I really like reading from them out loud to the children; it is truly amazing how timeless many of the stories are. 

Over winter holiday, we made a stop at Westminster Abbey.  They very graciously (or wisely, I might chalk it up to self-preservation) offer a "children's tour" of the abbey.  They hand out clipboards, pencils and a booklet with questions the children are supposed to discover the answers to as they get dragged around the abbey with their audio guide listening parents.

Our oldest two were Very Interested, with Lulu's attention flagging towards the end and Noodle's booklet dissolving into a doodle pad almost immediately.  However, we persevered and near the end of the booklet, there was a direction that we should find such-and-such's tomb and look for the cat in the stained glass above.  (Poor such-and-such probably only gets looked for because of the cat!)

While we were standing there one of the priests came over and began to ask us if we knew the story of the cat.  No, we did not.  He told us that the picture was of Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London, and a man who had pulled himself up by his boot-straps with the help, the legend says, of a cat who caught rats and mice and turned poor (literally) Dick, into a wealthy man.  The kids were fascinated and I think the priest was happy to have such a rapt audience.  (He subsequently gave us a personal, behind the ropes tour of Newton's tomb.)

I had sort of forgotten about looking up more of Dick Whittington's story, when I was speaking to my grandparents the other evening.  I told the whole Westminster-child's-guide-cat-in-the-stained-glass-story and as I began to tell about Dick Whittington, Nana jumped in and told the whole story herself!  I asked where she remembered reading that and she said she thought they were in the set of books they had given us!  She admitted that she didn't know the last time she had read them, but she told the story just as the priest had.

Sure enough, I looked up the story the other day.  It was there, in her books from when she was a little girl.  I sat everyone down and read it out loud.  I am so happy she shared those books with us.  I never imagined how connected it could help us be.

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