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Monday, January 28, 2008

Childhood Disasters and Angelic Salvation

Everyone has stories from childhood, whether of theirs or that of their children.

I told one such story about how my Mother and every other involved parent in the neighborhood converged to save us from a spring flood.

This really was my mother's story as my memory is not so clear, and I have other stories also belonging to Mom which I now take as my own. Each family has their own oral tradition; and so I encourage all of you to absorb what you learn from your parents, or what you learn AS parents, and pass it on. As it is, today, I pass on a couple stories, thanks to Melody's comment which inspired me.

The Nick of Time...

My brother and I grew up watching Tom & Jerry cartoons, and anyone familiar with these characters knows how often they hit each other with common household objects, and how birds and stars would circle their heads after a cranial impact.

Well, around that time our parents had purchased a table and chairs made for children, both of which were kept in the living room, likely because of my "tea parties" to which both Mom and Dad found themselves "invited." I seriously must not have been older than three or four at the time, which would have made my brother five or six.

One day, my brother decided that he would like to see the birds and stars, and although I recall little of the experience, I think I agreed that I'd like to see the creatures around my head. As none of the cartoon characters ever suffered anything other than crossed eyes (which I already had, by nature) and the flying things, well, I agreed to the experiment.

Mom walked into the room just in time to see my brother raising the chair over his head. She stopped him mid-swing as the chair descended towards my tender skull, and took it away from him.

Guardian angel intervention? Quite possible. Quite likely. Can you IMAGINE the headlines that would hit the news today?

And I have yet another story, from around the same time period.

Impossible Salvation

Mom and Dad, as most parents, had a full-sized or queen bed, and it was just WONDERFUL for jumping. Of course, Mom and Dad BOTH had FORBIDDEN us to jump on the bed...EVER!

But one morning, we went into Mom's room and began bouncing. That was fun, but then my brother, being a boy, found the need to up the ante because bouncing wasn't enough. He started to push me, likely expecting me to push him back. But me, being a girl, was completely contented with just bouncing, and saw his pushing as a personal attack.

I think I likely did push him back and told him to stop, but he didn't, and at one point in the skirmish, I remember being in mid-air, being pushed, and I remember the room turning upside-down.

It happened in slow-motion. I saw the ceiling, the wall, the brown dresser, and the green diamond-shaped Berber-type carpeting, and just before my head hit, I stopped. For a moment, I was suspended, not even breathing as I observed the room around me, knowing at even a cellular level that horror had been averted.

My brother was holding my ankles with a strength I didn't know he had...because he had stopped my momentum and my descent in an instant. I remember being able to touch the floor beneath me, and I remember studying the dresser in my upside-down position, my legs straight up in the air, soles towards the ceiling. My back wasn't even touching the bed, which meant that my brother's arms had to have been extended straight out from him.

My brother pulled me back onto the bed, again, with a strength that belied his years. As soon as I was there, I looked around the room, shocked. He was no longer interested in jumping and playing. He was as terrified, if not MORE terrified, than I was in that moment. Neither one of us, though, really understood the full consequences of the action that had been averted.

My brother's eyes were saucers and he was already pleading with me not to cry, not to call Mom, not to tell. He was telling me I was OK, don't cry, don't cry...

And of course, realizing that I'd been upside-down not according to my own will, what did I do but start to cry?

I don't remember the rest. I'm not sure if my brother calmed me down or if I ran away and told Mom. That part is too fuzzy. I do remember him begging me to be quiet, I remember his hand on my shoulder, I remember him telling me that I was fine, and I was. But I didn't know what else to do but cry, and I did know clearly that my dear brother had saved me.

But in looking back, considering I was around 3 or 4, and my brother, 2 1/2 years older, I don't know how he could have saved me. I don't know how he could have halted my descent. I don't think he had the physical strength to work against...well...physics.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Guardian Angels intervened physically to save us both in that instance.

"Can you feel the tips of their wings?"

Mom taught us both, at a very young age, about Guardian Angels. I still remember the afternoons that we laid down for a nap,one of us on either side of Mom. She would speak to us about the angels, and invite us to raise our hands in the air. She told us they were flying above our extended hands, and we should be able to feel the feathers on their wings against our fingertips as they flew.

I stretched my little fingers as far as possible, but never felt the wings touch them. I never felt the breeze created by their flight. But my brother cried out that he could feel it, and Mom endorsed this as she said she could feel it, too. Never once did I ever feel the passing of the angels over us, and finally, one day, I cried because I thought the angels didn't love me. I cried because my arms were too short, and the angels couldn't fly low enough to reach me. And I cried because, once again, the people older than I could experience what I could not because I was too little.

Mom and my brother both sought to comfort me and stop my tears, and finally my brother admitted he couldn't really feel the wings, either, but was only pretending. And Mom admitted the same thing, but told us both that the angels were real, they were really there, even though we couldn't touch them with our fingertips.

The angels, clearly, revealed themselves when it was important, and not when we desired that they do so. They were present when it counted, and although I've never seen my Angel, I am forever grateful for his perfect intervention, no doubt aided by my brother's own angel, and also my Mom's. (They're all in cahoots, you know...)

All of us have stories of childhood disasters, and many of us can see, as adults, the divine intervention that saved us. What is your story? Did it happen when you were a child, or did it happen to aid you in your parenthood?

A Cold Winter's Tale

One more story: Mom tells a tale about traveling with my brother and I in the winter. I believe she and our Dad were still married, but I don't recall how it was that we were alone. And I remember part of this night. We were caught in a Midwestern snowstorm, where there was nothing to stop the wind. Mom was scared, it was obvious, and she was praying, out loud, there in the car with us, for somewhere to go. We'd gotten lost and had to find our way to the interstate.

Out of the snowy winter darkness there appeared a gas station and a diner, and so Mom stopped, grateful, hoping for directions, willing to sleep in a truck stop booth if it meant getting home safely.

We were both very little, and I think I still remember the light, Mom's anxiety, and a very nice lady who welcomed us. She was a "down home" sort of woman, used to catering to truckers, but we were the only guests. She said that "something" had told her to keep the light on in case someone happened by in such a terrible storm. She fed us, she talked to Mom about many things, and did her best to make us all feel at home. And at one point, she told us it was OK to leave, and how to get to where we needed to go. Mom thanked her, and offered her money for the food, but the woman waved her off...it was her pleasure. She'd been paid by being able to help.

So Mom packed us back into the car and we were on our way.

I don't know when this happened, but it was either the next day or maybe within weeks of the incident. She wanted to find the truck stop and the woman who had helped us, and she found what she thought was the spot, but it was closed down and clearly hadn't been inhabited in years. Mom drove to a nearby gas station or other business (I'm not sure) which was nearby and had been closed on the night of the storm. The person there told her that the place where we'd been had been nothing but a ruin for YEARS, and that it wasn't POSSIBLE that anyone had been there the night the down-home lady had taken us in from the cold.

Remind me to get the actual story from Mom...if I can get better detail, I'll tell the story here.

So...what's YOUR story? Com-box is open for business!

7 comments:

tara said...

Wow, adoro, you are amazing to be able to remember so many memories of your childhood--I remember very little about my chilhood--perhaps I have blocked most things out--not good memories. But, I can live vicariously through your stories :)

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks for the stories! I'm too sick to remember any of mine right now.

Heidi Saxton said...

I have a vivid memory of one time driving with my mother (I think one of my sisters was there, too) up in the Appalacian Mountains. For some reason the back end of the van went over the edge of the road, and we were stuck. The front half of the car (where we were sitting) was still on the road. We were afraid to move -- if one person got out, it would shift the weight of the car and send the whole thing over the edge with the rest of us in it.

Two strangers suddenly showed up. Men, I think. Somehow they got us all out of the van (I remember opening my side of the van and seeing a steep drop, and deciding to go out my mother's side.) Even more remarkably, they somehow towed us so the van was back on the road. Then they disappeared as suddenly as they came.

I would have been twelve, I think. And I wasn't even Catholic then ... but I did believe in angels. Always have.

Thanks for sharing this story!

Courageous Grace said...

What interesting stories!

When I was 18 months old, my parents were still married and we lived on a farm. I had been outside playing in a ditch and my father was driving down the drive in a 3/4 ton pickup. He saw me playing, then apparently looked down to shift gears or something. Next thing he knew, he had driven over me with both wheels on one side of the truck.

My mother swears up and down that I had a guardian angel who lifted up the back of the truck off of my body. I suffered a star fracture on my skull, and have an almost completely invisible scar on my cheek (more like a dent, really).

The doctors at the hospital I was taken to thought I was brain-damaged because I wouldn't cry....that is until my mother walked in. Turns out I was just very very frightened.

Oh yes, I believe in guardian angels. My mother was told to not get pregnant after her third miscarriage (I have one older sister), but did anyway and here I am. Funny, eh?

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

I don't have a childhood story... but a more recent one, from 2006. I was just starting what turned out to be five weeks of cycling in the Loire area in France. I had just left behind a friend, near Paris, who is a nun. As she hugged me goodbye, I was in a very nervous state about beginning the adventure that I really did want to begin. She told me not to worry, that my guardian angel would look after me. And she firmly believed it.
Well, the only bad experience I had the whole time I cycled, happened the very next day, my first 'proper' day of cycling. It was a nasty encounter with a man. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say I was very very frightened. Fortunately, at just the right time, after several km of terror, I reached a barrier. My bike could pass through: his car couldn't. I am sure my guardian angel was looking after me that day.

Adoro te Devote said...

Wow, you all have amazing stories! And Kiwi, I'd LOVE more of your story! Was that guy chasing you in your car?

No doubt...the angels are right there with us and intervene in the physical world. If I had any doubts before, they're gone now.

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

You don't really want to know more. I was on my bicycle in a cycle lane. He was in a car and shouldn't have been there. It was not nice. yeah... he kept overtaking me.... but eventually he could go no further...