How would she ever find her way back to us?
At 13, my daughter, Marian, was already a responsible young lady who worked to help pay for her own clothes and school supplies. Her earnings were tucked proudly into the pink jewelry box on her dresser, under the plastic ballerina. She was looking forward to her next job, a week of cat-sitting. Fluffy was no ordinary cat, but a prize-winning white Persian that belonged to Mrs. Byers, the grandmother of one of Marian’s classmates.
Fluffy was exclusively an indoor cat, and she arrived at our house in an elaborate wire cage. It was obvious she was Mrs. Byers’s absolute pride and joy. Marian spent more than an hour grooming Fluffy that first night, giving her plenty of love and attention. But on Fluffy’s second day with us, the back door flew open and Marian came running inside. “Mama!” she cried. “I took Fluffy out for some fresh air, and she escaped!
I must not have closed her cage all the way!” We searched the neighborhood, and over the next 24 hours posted signs, visited animal shelters and frequently checked Mrs. Byers’s house. Marian’s dad and I tried to be hopeful in front of her, but I didn’t think a pampered indoor pet had a chance in our rural area. We had to ask for God’s help. “Please keep Fluffy safe,” we prayed daily. “And show her the way back to us.”
The night before Mrs. Byers was due home, Marian came to my room in tears. “She’ll never forgive me,” Marian cried. “I didn’t take good care of Fluffy.” I hugged Marian tight. I wasn’t so much worried about Mrs. Byers forgiving Marian as I was about Marian forgiving herself. “You took good care of Fluffy. Now we have to trust that she’s in God’s hands and that she’ll be all right.”
I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and watched the clock. Just after midnight I heard three hard knocks on our front door. My husband woke too, so we went to see who it could be. “I don’t see anyone,” William said, checking the peephole. He cautiously opened the door and we poked our heads out. Something made me look down. Fluffy! “Where have you been?” Her fur was matted and dingy with bits of grass and dried leaves sticking every which way. Still, she stepped past us into the house with the dignity of a queen. “Fluffy is a surprising cat,” William said, “but she didn’t knock on our door.”
Marian was beside herself with glee when she woke up to find Fluffy back. “We can’t explain it,” I told her. “Only Fluffy knows who dropped her off.” Marian had no time to speculate on the mystery. She had her work cut out for her getting the cat in shape for her owner’s return. When Mrs. Byers came by, Marian told her the story. “So I didn’t do my job, and I don’t expect you to pay me,” she finished. Mrs. Byers insisted on paying, but Marian staunchly refused. “An angel brought Fluffy back,” she said, “and that’s payment enough.” Even if she couldn’t put it in the jewelry box on her dresser.
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