As the colored lights go on up and down my street, miles of garland and tinsel add sparkle to the tree in the window and carols are sung by fresh faced children in shiny new shoes, I reflect back to Christmas last year, and remember my dad’s last days.
Dad died shortly before Christmas 2011. It wasn’t , though, until after the crowds and glitter and piles of wrapping paper cleared away; after the lights dimmed and the chorus of music became a soft melody; that I was able to thank God for the gifts He sent to help us see my dad home.
I truly believe there were angels among us—not the Hollywood version with the flowing robes and feathered wings. These angels came in the guise of everyday people that you may have met yourself. They moved in the background; taking care of all the mundane, routine chores, so we could devote our attention to Dad during his last days with us.
There was the young man at American Storage that replaced a broken lock by flashlight one dark, chilly night. Because he did this we were able to retrieve old photo albums, and filled Dad’s bedroom with pictures of friends and family that could not be there in person.
Dad was a resident at View Pointe Assisted Living. It was not just “assistance” the staff provided. So many acts of selfless compassion made Dad and our family, feel cared for. A young girl at the front desk gave up her lunch break to mail our Christmas cards. I remember the gentle giant that came in hours before his regular shift to do laundry, help with the heavy lifting, or just sit with us during the quiet times. I’ll never forget the dear lady who insisted on dispensing Dad’s medications, as she had always done, in spite of the fact an accident put her in a wheelchair that month. More than once another resident and WWII Veteran, came by to talk about common experiences and the past, even though he and Dad had never directly met. Odyssey Hospice angels wove themselves through our hours of days and nights. They anticipated every need and gave us all a sense of peace.
We met other angels that had generously responded to Dad’s needs over a period of time, like Ed. He brought communion and companionship when Dad was no longer able to get to church. There was Tom. He filled in for sons too far away to visit every week. Many neighbors stepped up as all the family started coming in to town; attending to cooking meals, cleaning and even shoveling snow at Dad’s house, so he could rest knowing that home was in order.
There was a heavy snowstorm the day of Dad’s funeral which delayed everything almost an hour. It was another bitter, windy day, but inside was a church glowing with Christmas, God’s love and filled with angels. Outside, an honor guard of airmen, not even born when Dad retired, sent him on his way; the 21-gun salute the final farewell.
In an old Christmas movie, a newspaper editor responds to a little girl’s letter asking if there is really a Santa Clause. He tells her, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.” Thinking back to December 2011, I substitute “Angels” for “Santa Clause.” I say, “Yes, Virginia, there are angels among us always. They exist and live in the hearts of people that give of themselves to help and comfort all those around them. I wish a merry, blessed Christmas to each angel as you continue to give and care for others.