Friday, May 23, 2008

Entertaining Angels Unawares

My grandmother had an old 78 recording of her friend, Sir Harry Lauder, singing a song called "The End of the Road" that she played as often as she could. Gramma loved that song. It was in many ways, the theme song for her life, the lives of her children and her grandchildren.

With a good stout strong heart and an end in view, We can cut short many a mile… (The End of the Road)

Fill your heart with unconditional love and share it with your neighbours, your friends and family. Share it with strangers too.

My mother often told the story that during the depression they had very little of anything including food. One day while she was sitting on the front steps to eat her lunch – a peanut butter sandwich - a man came along, out of work, out of money, out of dignity and out of hope. He asked Gramma for some money.

My grandfather had died leaving Gramma to raise 4 girls on her own empty-handed and therefore Gramma had no money to give the stranger. She couldn't give him any work. But Gramma could and did give him a good stout dose of `heart' along with my mother's peanut butter sandwich!

Mom missed one meal but the stranger received nourishment to give him the physical strength to keep on going, and because no one ever left Gramma's without it, he also received a big slice of dignity and hope to help make his road seem a little shorter.

Gramma's road through life was neither easy nor short and there were never any shortcuts but she never once gave up. She kept a good strong heart, continuing to give and share with others, a song in her soul and laughter ever close to the edge of her lips until she came to the end of her road.

Mom never forgot giving up her lunch that day. It's easy to give when your pockets and tummies are full, but it is not so easy when they empty. Gifting should come from the heart and be wrapped in the twin blessings of hope and dignity.

My mother and grandmother were both masters of giving in this way. No, Mom never forgot her lost lunch and she never once regretted it.

Many years later, when Mom was too ill and weak to help herself and her children's physical strengths were failing too, Mom needed help to get down the stepped walkway and into the car to go to one of her medical appointments. It began to look as if we weren't going to be able to get her there. It had taken every last ounce of our combined strength to get to the bottom of the stairs descending from the front door. There was still a long walk downhill to get to the car.

As Mom sat and rested on the steps, a stranger, seeming to appear from nowhere was taking a walk past our house. He came up and offered Mom his help. He then effortlessly picked her up and carried her down the hilly path to the car and gently placed her inside the car on the seat without causing her any additional pain at all.

This stranger gifted Mom that day from his heart and liberally wrapped it in blessings of hope and dignity.

Although we had lived in that neighbourhood for ten years, and knew most of our neighbours by sight, we had never seen this gentle man before. Nor have we ever seen this him since.

Whoever he was, whatever his name, to us, just then, he was an angel whose presence was most gratefully received.

How about you? Have you, too, encountered angels unawares?


Paul Sears Photography said...

This is just a beautiful story. Thank you for posting this.

Karen Zemek, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

My parents both lived through the depression too. It was a very hard time and I'm glad I came along afterwards. Nice story!