Funny, Isn’t It? – The Day of My Three Angels
By Jeanne Charters
Life is a time for celebration, reflection, and … angels.
I’ll preface my story with the fact that I am a Christian (not the born-again variety) but a cradle Catholic who returned to my church after being AWOL for twenty-five years. Since coming back, I seem to recognize more readily when the Divine Spirit knocks on my dense noggin.
Usually, He/She appears in the form of an angel.
I was preparing to head back to New York for an indeterminate stay. I would be helping out during the recuperation of my daughter, Caroline, and fourteen-year-old grandson, Kyle, after surgeons transplanted her kidney into his body. To say I was scared doesn’t approach the truth of my insecurity. Two postoperative people whom I adore … both in a lot of pain … one trying to adjust to the toxic anti-rejection drugs he must take for survival … and me, not a nurse, and, in truth, not even much of a nurturer.
Adding anxiety was the fact that I questioned whether my husband could handle the stress of the situation. He would come for two weeks when they came home from the hospital. I made up all kinds of memories where Matt freaked out when the “going got tough” and started testing him with my own bitchiness. We fought a lot.
Increasing the fear was the fact that Kyle had become violently ill after his first dialysis treatment and, after rushing him to the hospital, Caroline was told such a reaction was “unusual.” He needed dialysis to live until the transplant, but could he survive it?
On the Wednesday before my trip, I was miserable. Tuesday night had been sleepless. Negative possibilities bounced around my brain like toxic mothballs. This was to be my typical Wednesday. A visit with my friend, Marie, bed bound these days due to illness, followed by an afternoon at a local hospital pushing wheelchairs as a volunteer.
I didn’t want to burden Marie with my problems. She has enough of her own, but being the good friend she is, she asked, “How’s Matt doing with all this?”
Her words unleashed a torrent of gripes. “He doesn’t get me. He’ll probably be more trouble than he’s worth. When I complain to him, he just clams up.”
She lay there, quiet for a moment. “Ah, I see, Jeanne, you’re trying to tuck him under your thumb, aren’t you? And he won’t put up with it.”
Sometimes, wisdom just smacks you up side the head like a sledge hammer (wrapped in the velvet of a friend’s love). She was right … her words clarified my part in the marital drama I was creating. Damn, I hate when that happens!
I kissed her goodbye and said, “You’re an angel.”
I called Matt and told him what Marie had said. Then, I made up my mind to stop nagging the good guy immediately!
My second angel was a small Asian woman. I was transporting a patient to his car. He was attached to an oxygen cylinder. The rules are that a volunteer can only discharge such a patient accompanied by a nurse. I spied her in the hall. “Are you a floor nurse?” I asked.
“Actually, I’m a dialysis nurse,” she replied.
A dialysis nurse! “Can I take a second of your time, please?”
She explained that Kyle’s reaction to his dialysis was quite typical with first-time patients … that his body just needed to adjust to the chemicals. I don’t think she had any idea her halo showed, but she was an angel, plain and simple, and God’s way of giving me information I vitally needed.
Later that Wednesday, I was struggling to get a very large man into an SUV. He was weak as a 300-pound kitten, but I had maneuvered him enough to have one cheek on the seat. I thought he could wiggle himself in the rest of the way. Suddenly, he said, “I’m goin’ down.”
Which he did, right on the sidewalk.
He wasn’t hurt, thank God, but he was totally incapable of getting to his feet. I tried everything, with zero effect. His nurse was in tears, feeling she had failed her duty to him. The situation was chaotic to the extreme.
A small, blonde woman materialized. She calmly told the man what he needed to do. In a matter of minutes, she got him to his feet and into the car. After they had driven away, I turned to the woman, “Are you a relative of that man’s?”
“Oh no,” she replied. “I’m a physical therapist. I just know how to make people use their bodies.”
“You’re more than that,” I told her. “You’re an angel.”
She looked puzzled, shrugged, and walked away. All in a day’s work for her, but one more sign to me that God was watching me and would continue to do so once I got to New York.
The five weeks I stayed there were transformative. Caroline and I developed a bond that will last for the rest of our lives and beyond. Kyle did great and celebrated his birthday at a Japanese restaurant with all his buddies. Matt hung a trophy shelf for Caroline’s younger son, Corey, and put up brackets and shades in two bedrooms while simultaneously keeping us stocked with groceries.
Cherubim or seraphim? Don’t know, but he was one of them.
Other angels appeared … people who visited, brought food and flowers, my doctor daughter who ran interference in the transplant ward, and Matt’s daughter, Kim, who unexpectedly showed up the day of the surgeries and took Corey and his cousin, Hannah, out for lunch.
Funny, isn’t it, that though their wings were tucked away, I recognized each one of them?
So, dear reader, at times when you need them most, keep your heart open and watch for the angels. Bet they’ll show up for you!
Dear Readers: Jeanne recently learned that she has breast cancer. And if you are regular reader you’ll know that her daughter Stacia was diagnosed this year with breast cancer and had a bi-lateral mastectomy in the spring. Please send your love and prayers to Jeanne as she faces this next challenge.