Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Looking at the tree this morning, I spotted this little angel and was awash in memories.
When we moved into our little community in Illinois (This is before I met Peggy) I was quite adrift. I've written before about our consternation on hearing that our little "village" had a history of prejudice. Imagine our surprise when the neighbors across the street greeted us with open arms. The husband was a retired colonel. When Art reached the equivalent rank with the Public Health Service, he enjoyed reminding Art that he was still a "Bird" colonel.
His wife was an angel. She watched over us and tried to include us in everything so that we would feel at home. She was like a surrogate grandmother to Tiffany and came to watch over her the night Jon was born. When Jon was a toddler she wanted so much to hold him but he was very shy about being carried by anybody outside of our family unit. Try as she might, he would pull away and cling to my legs.
Then she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was devastating. I watched the once strong and proud colonel become a shell of his former self. He asked me to help him clean the house to make it perfect for her when she returned from one of her hospital stays.
One evening, we went over and saw her lying down on the sofa, propped with pillows, her face pained but smiling. We chatted and reassured her that we would always be across the street to help in any way we could. As we turned to take our leave, not yet two year old Jon suddenly pulled away from me and wrapped his arms around her neck in a tight, long hug. Shocked at first, her face warmed with happiness. The pain seemed to lift when she said, "I can die in peace now." The rest of us stood watching with our mouths open in surprise.
When she died, the colonel was lost and he soon followed the woman he could not live without. When the family sold the home, they gave us quite a few things to remember them by. One of the packages held these little angels and we hung them on our tree every year since.
As the years passed, Jon thought it was humorous when I would occasionally forget to pack away some holiday decoration and would have to go up into the attic sometime in spring to put it away. He decided to tease me by hiding these angels in the house some place where I would find it later in the year. Seeing an angel would remind me that Jon was always with me no matter where in the world he decided to explore.
We found one angel hanging on the handle of our antique coffee grinder on top of our china cabinet when we were getting ready to move to Hawaii last year in late summer.
When we drove through New Mexico on the way to Hawaii, we dropped off these angels for Jon. I thought we gave him all of them.
But no... I guess not, because here they are on the tree again and it's not just the angel's face I see but all the angels they represent.