My dad left to be with my mom on March 31, 2010. Prior to that time, he spent the last few years in a nursing home. His Alzheimer's simply was too much for us to try to handle at home. He was becoming a detriment to himself and others. He was not 'dangerous' by any means. He simply had to be watched 24/7. You could not take your eyes off of him for a second. Nights were the worse.
Prior to daddy going to live in a nursing home, my toddler son and I lived with him. It was both a wonderful and cherished time, and a time of much strain and pressure in my life. I wanted to do what I could to make daddy's days good. I tried to give him all I had. It was the deep desire to please my dad and be the daughter I felt I needed to be which led up to this special day.
As many of you already know, I have a family member who is incarcerated. He is a wonderful person, with a heart of gold, but unfortunately, as with many people in today's society, he cannot seem to live in the real world without drugs. Drugs get the best of him, and he returns to prison where he has spent a large majority of his life.
My brother and dad have always been close. As with all of my dad's children, dad loved us dearly and would have given anything to make us happy. It was the way him and mom lived daily ... always putting the needs of their children first.
My dad's health was deteriorating rapidly. My brother was about 3 hours away. One morning I decided I needed to take my dad to visit with my brother before he got so bad he could not make the trip. I pondered the many obstacles I could possibly face during this trip, but my desire to bless my dad with what could be his last visit was stronger than the fear of what might lie ahead.
By this time, whenever you took dad out of his element, you risked the chance of him becoming very confused. Also, he was not in complete control of his bodily functions so he had to wear pampers. I knew all of this, yet I choose to risk it. I just prayed for a good day and for God's favor.
We made the trip without much ado. Our visit was good. Whatever challenges we faced, we managed well. The prison worked with us, and I have to say they did all they could to make getting my dad pass the many safeguards possible.
We managed to spend time with my brother. Not as much as I would have liked, but I knew it had made my daddy happy and my brother even happier. We both strongly suspected this would be the last time they would see one another. Dad finally started to show signs of agitation, so I knew it was time to head home. I was a bit anxious about the three hour drive ahead of me.
As we traveled, my dad was becoming more and more difficult. About an hour into our drive, he lost control of his bowels. I pulled off the side of the road. I was on a stretch of Route 15 which was pretty deserted. I do not think I had passed more than a handful of vehicles by the time I had to pull off.
I managed to get my dad out of the van. I had commenced to trying to clean him up and get him re-dressed. You cannot begin to imagine how difficult this was. He was a grown man with no sense of how to assist me. He was very confused by this time and even more agitated. I remember just crying as I was doing this and praying. I had no idea how I would manage to get my dad back into the van. His legs were giving out on him. I was literally standing by the side of Route 15, my dad in his clean pampers only, and I trying to hold him up. I remember it was cold. I was freaking out worrying my dad would catch pneumonia. He had practically become dead weight. I was helpless. I was simply not strong enough to pick him up. There I stood ... crying and praying! What else could I do? I was about as helpless as an infant.
This is where my story took a very strange twist. As I was facing the side of the van and holding my dad up, this soldier appeared out of nowhere. I never heard the sound of a vehicle pulling up behind me, but of course, I could have been so wrapped in the moment that I failed to hear it. I suddenly felt someone tap me on my shoulder, and I heard this voice say, "Ma'am, can I help you?" Before I could really respond, he had stepped in, lifted my dad into his arms, placed him in the van, and buckled his seat belt. It happened that quickly.
As the soldier stepped back away from the van, I went to my dad to check on him. As I was moving closer to my dad and the van, I was telling the solider ... through tears ... just how thankful I was. I never really made eye contact with him because things just unfolded that quickly. Once I got my dad settled, I took a deep breath and turned to address the solider one-on-one. He was gone! I looked to see if there was a vehicle behind me, but nothing. I looked up and down the highway, but nothing.
The stretch of Route 15 I was on was flat and straight for miles. You could see in either direction as far the eye would focus. There was no way this young man got away from me that quickly. If he had drove off, there was not enough time for him to get out of my sight on the highway. I stood there in total shock.
You have to realize my state of mind at this time. I was totally left speechless and very confused. I simply hung my head and cried even more. Realization of what had happened was sinking in. All I could do was praise God. I was in total disbelief, but I knew without a doubt what had occurred.
I finally got myself together and headed home. However, as I drove, I pondered how I had entertained an angel on this day. God heard my prayers, and He sent me help from above. There is literally no other explanation for occurred. I know that I know that this soldier was nothing less than an angel sent from God. If it had not been for His assistance, I would have finally dropped my dad because the weight would have become too much for me. There was no way humanly possible for me to get my dad back into that van by myself. I could not even manage to fully dress him. He had become that difficult to handle.
The Bible speaks a lot of angels, but one verse in particular comes to mind. Hebrews 13:2, Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. I believe angels are all around us. I believe we entertain them much more than we will ever know. This is what I think each time I see a homeless person on the side of the road. Are they homeless ... are they angels? I do not think twice to give them a dollar or two if I have it. I do not ever want to take the chance that I missed my opportunity to serve Him. I realize a lot of the homeless people are using others for their own means. This is not for me to judge. What they do with my dollar or two after they receive it is between them and God. However, if they are not homeless but are indeed sent of God, then I want to know I honored Him.
Years ago I came across an articled entitled, Angels Are All Around Us. I am not sure where I saw the article, but I was impressed enough after reading it that I saved a copy. It was sent to whatever publication I saw it in by a man by the name of Richard. He was the young man shot in the Columbine school shooting and was left paralyzed from the neck down. He it is:
Angels Are All Around Us
Two travelling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."
The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused. The second family had little but was willing to share everything and you let the cow die."
"Things aren't always what they seem" the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it."
"Then last night as we slept in the farmer's bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."
Note: Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not know it until some time later.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people become friends and stay awhile leaving beautiful footprints on our hearts and we are never quite the same because we have made a good friend.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present!
Think this is special ... live and savor every moment ... this is not a dress rehearsal!
Have a blessed day!