Sign Two, An Angel

The term “angel” itself (Hebrew: mal’ak; Greek: angelos) is functional, denoting a messenger, whether human or spiritual. — Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible

Inside close relationships there exists a mode of knowing that transcends words. Intimacies which don’t need to be spoken to be understood. Husbands and wives experience this all the time. Without words you know what your lover thinks and feels. Message received.


Like leaving St. Catherine’s a few weeks earlier, leaving our home would be emotional too.

Most of the big and small graces of marriage happened there. We laughed. We cried. We wined and dined. We taught each other. Touched each other. Prayed. And finally, we said goodbye there. “See you soon, my love. Time for you to see Jesus.” Then I kissed her mouth. And she smiled. There were no words now. But that was enough.

It would be hard to leave.


God blessed Susan and me with so many material things. But I couldn’t use all of them. I was downsizing. And with deadlines approaching I decided to give most of it to those in need.

One thing though. I was conflicted about the formal dining set. Table, chairs, hutch, “china” cabinet. Susan brought those things into the marriage and paid quite a lot for them decades ago. What would she want me to do? No one in the family could use the furniture. And I didn’t want to give it to someone who would only resell it and pocket the money.

What Should I do?

So I decided to call the local Habitat for Humanity store in Wake Forest and scheduled a pickup of all the items they could use, which turned out to be quite a lot. But was it the right call?

Four days before closing a large truck and two oversized young men arrived. And, get this, the driver’s name was Angel. And he wasn’t Hispanic. So the pronunciation was what you think it is. Angel, as in Gabriel.

I did a small double-take on that one. How many non-Hispanic guys have you met named Angel? And a large one to boot. About 6 ft 2 in. 230 lbs. No chubby cherub!

Well, they went about their work and more than once commented on how “this is the pick of the week!” I was happy to know these items would not be collecting dust, and the money would be used to help the needy.

Later in the garage I teased Angel with a question. “Do you ever find it difficult to live up to your name?” He gave me an oversized grin. And then launched into effusive praise of his mother. Finishing with, “she was amazing. She helped guide me and make me what I am.” There wasn’t a touch of arrogance in his tone. From the back of the truck his partner overheard the conversation and chimed in: “He really is a nice guy.”

Well alright. Three cheers for big, strong, nice guys!

A little later his coworker asked me why I was moving. I mentioned Susan’s death and that I was moving to our mountain home. Then after a few more details, I said it was a place that reminded my wife of where she was born in up state NY.

After offering their condolences Angel asked, “where in NY?”

“Utica,” I said.

“I was born in Utica. How about that.”

Now my double-take began a slow turn into quadruple-take territory.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No. My mom moved us to NY city not long after I was born. But I was born in Utica, NY.”

“Ha! Just like my wife. An Angel from Utica!”

Everyone laughed. Small world, we joked.

I went back inside but after a few minutes it started to sink in. And that’s when I knew. A tender mercy had broken through. And it was headed my way. Would I side step it by using the left side of my brain only? Or would I let it wash over me? Like I did two weeks ago sitting at our spot in St Catherine’s? I decided to get wet.


Sure, given my background, my emotional state, I was attuned to serendipitous possibilities. But what do you think? Serendipity? Sheer Coincidence? What are the odds? Done the math?

I have. Sign Two. Message received. I made the right call. And a comforting God was near.


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I recently signed up to participate in the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk & 5K Run.  Also, I created a Team called:

Susan’s Soldiers (This is War!)

Contribute if you can to this worthy cause.