So I’ve been finding myself praying a little more these days, asking for some guidance as I struggle with some issues. Asking for help is not a thing I’ve ever been comfortable with but I’ve been trying hard, so hard to work on that and I think I’m succeeding. My sister told me recently that my attitude, my outlook had changed a lot in the last few years and I was so delighted that she shared that with me. I was in a dark place for a while, sad and tired from a tough situation I had gone through. But I had worked my way through it, ever so slowly and to know someone else had recognized my metamorphosis made me want to keep working, keep evolving.
And I have to think that my Dad has been the angel on my shoulder, whispering in my ear when I need a word of advice or giving me hug in my heart on a day when I’m sad. Because my Dad – and my Mom too – always believed in the power of angels and how they manifest themselves in our lives every day. We just need to pay attention to know they’re there.
Years ago, when my great kid was a little guy and on the bowling team at his school, we decided to stay after his bowling was finished and have something to eat at the little snack bar at the bowling alley. Cheeseburgers, fries and sodas. I ordered the food and brought it back to our table and we started to eat, talking about how much fun he’d had that cold winter day at bowling.
And then someone caught my eye. An old man sitting a few tables away by himself. Dressed poorly in clothes that didn’t appear warm or clean, he had no food or drink in front of him. When he saw me look up, he smiled at me and then turned to look at some teenagers shooting pool. He looks hungry, my great kid said, and I agreed. I walked over and told him I was headed back up to the snack bar and could I bring him something back. Could I have a sandwich and a soda, he asked. Of course, I said, and headed over there to order the food. A few dollars worth of stuff but when I brought it to him, it was as if I had served him something much more expensive. He thanked me and started to eat.
I turned around and headed back to my table and when I sat down, I looked back over. And he was gone. Literally gone. In the 15 seconds it took me to cross the 10 feet or so back to my table, he had vanished. I looked around. I got up and walked towards the entrance to see if he was headed outside. Nothing. He was gone.
I told my Dad that story when I got home. And he told me that it was Jesus putting an angel in my path to give me an opportunity to share what I had, to practice the tenet of do unto others. I knew it was true. I knew this man had been sent to me for a reason.
My Mom got on the phone after I told my Dad and shared a similar story with me, one I hadn’t heard before. She took the train to work every day and one day, running late to the office, she walked right past someone who needed some money. And it bothered her all day. Because she almost always assumes the best in someone and it would never occur to her that someone asking for money might not be legitimate. When she went home that night, she looked around at the train station but didn’t spot him.
The next morning she got off the train and there he was again. She stopped and gave him $5 and he thanked her and asked her name. She told him hers and asked his name. He told her and thanked her for her kindness and that he’d pray for her. She went to work, she told me, feeling much better that she’d been given another chance to make up for passing him by the previous day. And I bet you can guess what happened after that. He was never at the train station again. He was put there, she believed, for the same reason the gentleman was put in the bowling alley to talk to me.
How often do we encounter people by chance? We share a moment with someone, or a brief amount of time and we remember them much longer than it would seem normal. We have opportunities placed in front of us every day, to share what we can, to say a kind word, to be a shoulder to lean on, to be the only one who smiles at that person all day. And it’s easy, too easy sometimes to miss these little opportunities, to not even be aware when they present themselves.
And so it came back full circle to my Dad. A month or so ago I had a health crisis in the early hours of the morning. Panicked, I called my Mom (after my great kid had headed off to school, of course. No sense in worrying him before I knew what was wrong). Would you come here please and go with me to the doctor, I asked her. And 30 minutes later, she was at my door and 10 minutes after that we were at the doctor.
I had worked myself up into a state of panic, foolishly it turns out by surfing the web and googling my symptoms on WebMd. (Don’t do that, my doctor told me. No good can come of it. Advice taken.) But I was nervous, so nervous when I walked into the waiting room with my Mom. We sat down and waited to be called. And then my Dad, my angel gave me a sign.
For those of you who knew my Dad, you’ll know that his favorite song was The Bee Gees singing More Than A Woman. Only he could never understand the lyrics so he always called it Baldheaded Woman (as we all still do in my family). There was no music playing when we walked into the doctor’s office. But we sat down, as her first patient waiting to be seen, and her staff turned on the music. And Baldheaded Woman was the song we heard.
I looked at my Mom and she looked at me and we knew I would be fine. We knew my Dad was with me, letting me know I would be fine. (And I was and I am.) But if my Mom and Dad hadn’t showed me how to be open to the moments placed in front of me, I would have thought it was just a lovely coincidence that his favorite song came on. And maybe some of you will think it was just random that that song started playing. I don’t expect everyone to see what I see, or believe what I believe. But you’ll never ever convince me that my Dad wasn’t there that day. Look for your angel. Be open to the possibility. I was and my life is richer for it.