57: Sugar Magnolia

57: Sugar Magnolia

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Sugar Magnolia

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.

~Saint Augustine

On Easter weekend l997, my daughter Jessica was home from college. I had flown to Philadelphia to join my husband for a “dog and pony show” arranged by the company attempting to recruit him.

In the middle of my first night in Philly, we received a call from Jessica. She was frantic. An F3 tornado had struck Chattanooga. Our newly built home was destroyed. Our cat Sugar Magnolia was missing! We flew back to Chattanooga the next morning.

We had rescued her from a shelter as a kitten. My daughter named her Sugar Magnolia (from a song by the Grateful Dead). She grew into a magnificent cat — fluffy, long orange fur, golden eyes, and the best disposition ever. She graciously allowed us to live with her and she made our home a happier place.

The devastation of our home was total — everything ruined or blown away. Emotions ran high. We were thankful to be safe and that the storm had claimed no lives. But where was Sugar Magnolia? As pet lovers know, these critters become an integral part of families and we had lost a family member.

For three days we searched through the rubble. For some reason, the local and national media picked up our story and gave daily reports on our family and our search for our cat. On the fourth day, the bulldozers were scheduled to clear the land. That day, only Jessica went back to what we now called “The Site.” We had not found Sugar Magnolia and feared all we might find was her body.

Later that same morning, as my husband and I watched Oprah in our hotel room, the program was interrupted by a news bulletin announcing, “Jessica has found Sugar Magnolia!” We were stunned and thrilled as we listened to how Jessica had found her just before the bulldozers started. She was alive and miraculously uninjured, having been buried three days under the rubble in an air pocket.

Sugar Magnolia became the celebrity of Chattanooga and lived happily with us for many years. We had lost her. We had found her, and although now, many years later, she has gone to Kitty Heaven, we will never forget her or stop loving her.

For me, the whole tornado experience was a jolting reminder and reinforcement of my basic philosophy of life: The glass is half full. To this day, I keep a picture of “The Site” in my living room as a daily reminder that “things” don’t matter — only lives — even if animals.

~Janet E. Lord, Ph.D.

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