Sometimes, an angel's work is never done...
| Angel on the Cape
By Donna Lowich
“Ready to go to breakfast/?” My husband, Walter, came into the room of our bed and breakfast.
“I’m ready.” We were vacationing in our favorite place: Cape May, New Jersey, and staying in our favorite bed and breakfast inn. We made our way to where breakfast is served.
I hesitated before going into the breakfast room. I’m not misanthropic, just shy because I have a spinal cord injury and walk with a walker, and it can be difficult to talk about it with strangers.
In I went, anyway. We sat down and shortly afterward, two women sat at our table. We introduced ourselves, saying that we live in northern New Jersey, almost three hours away.
The women introduced themselves: Mary and Michele. Mary told us, “Michele and I are from Pennsylvania. We’ve been friends for many years. We do getaway weekends every once in a while.”
Michele told a story about her son as a little boy, and I told a story about our son, Jeff, when he was young, too.
Michele and Mary were good people, and I liked them instantly. They put me at ease with their casual conversation, and I relaxed.
Michele excused herself, briefly. She needed to go back to the room to call her family.
Mary detailed their trip, saying that Michelle is a very spiritual, religious person who was bringing her on this vacation because of some personal difficulties. “The way things are in the world, sometimes I wish I could get a sign from God that He is still watching us,” Mary said sadly.
I smiled at her. Maybe something that happened to me could help my new friend. Somehow, I knew that it wouldn’t bother me to retell it [i]this time.
I told her all about my two spinal cord surgeries, my nearly six months in rehab, of how I worried about Jeff, who was five years old at the time. I wanted to do the right thing for him. So, one day I phoned the county mental health facility for some advice.
Instead of being transferred around, as I fully expected, I found myself talking to a woman who answered the phone at the main number. When I told her that I needed help to keep Jeff grounded despite our circumstances, the conversation went like this:
“I can help you,” said the voice, kindly. “Tell me your name.”
“My name is Donna.” I started off slowly, not quite believing that I could find help this easily.
“My name is Norma,” came the reply.
“That’s easy to remember--that’s my mother’s name.” I was more incredulous with each passing moment.
I told her the trials that my family and I had endured during the past year, about the fact that my medical condition had improved, but was not near I thought it should be. This was depressing me. I didn’t want my fears to be transferred to Jeffrey.
“I’m glad you called,” Norma said. “You have been through a lot. I understand what you are saying about your spinal surgery--I am an RN.”
Over the next several months, there were more calls to Norma. They were filled with friendship, understanding and good advice for me. As I progressed, with Norma’s help, the telephone calls became less frequent. But Norma was always close, even if only in my thoughts.
There was one incident, I emphasized to Mary, that stands out in my mind to this day.
One day I confessed to Norma that I couldn’t understand how God had allowed this to happen to my family and me, especially Jeffrey. And, how guilty I felt for having those feelings.
I will never forget Norma’s comforting words to me: “Don’t worry, Donna. God gets blamed for a lot of things. He is used to being blamed for things that happen on earth. He understands your frustration--and your anger, too.”
I was so relieved to hear that! Just what I needed to hear: that God understood me, that He wasn’t angry at me. I was able to overcome those feelings eventually because of Norma’s personal counsel. She was my friend and she sounded as though she knew just how God felt about me. That was all very positive to me.
Shortly thereafter, I wanted Norma to know the full impact she had not only on me, but on Walter and Jeffrey, as well. Her influence was nothing short of miraculous--just as miraculous as our initial telephone contact had been.
I dialed the number that linked me to the one person who had helped me without ever telling me her last name, someone who never charged me for her counsel or for taking the time to listen to me. This time, however, Norma didn’t answer.
“County Mental Health…how can I help you?”
“Can I speak with Norma, please?”
“I’m sorry, but there is no Norma here. Is there a last name?”
“No, she never gave me her last name. But I’ve talked to her at this number several times.”
“I’m sorry, there is no one by the name of Norma here, and there hasn’t been, at least since I’ve been working here.”
I thanked the receptionist, and hung up the phone more convinced than ever that Norma was truly an angel.
Mary smiled, even as her eyes welled up with tears. She grabbed my hand, and said, “What a story! Thank you for sharing it with me! Is it Ok with you if I share it with Michele, too? I know she’ll love it as much as I do.”
The next morning, hung on the outside of our door was a bag with several gifts and a note from Mary and Michele—a Victorian sconce, and the delicate figure of a Victorian angel. What a lovely tribute to Norma, who helped me while helping my new-found friends.