52: Ricky’s Angel

52: Ricky’s Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Ricky’s Angel

God blesses him who helps his brother.

~Abu Bakr

The victim of a rare genetic disorder causing his muscles to deteriorate, my son, Rick, required frequent visits to the doctor. This was a major undertaking, and on the best of days we would return home exhausted.

Even with a hydraulic lift, Rick’s scooter was a beast to load and unload. It took some time to get both him and the scooter in or out of the van. People were neither patient nor polite about delays in the patient loading zone, so we skipped that convenience, instead parking at the far perimeter of the lot where we had plenty of space and, if we were lucky, a little shade.

The doctor was running an hour behind that day and by the time we left, Rick was fatigued from sitting on the scooter without the neck and back support he so badly needed. It was a hot day, really hot, even for Phoenix in July. But Rick didn’t mind the heat, courtesy of blood thinners, and I was grateful that at my age I could make the walk.

“It’s kind of creepy out here,” I commented as we walked to the van, the heat visibly rising off the blacktop. “Not a sign of life anywhere.”

“You’ve now entered The Twilight Zone,” he snickered, knowing that show gave me the heebie jeebies.

As we made the transfer from the scooter to the van something went horribly wrong, and before I knew it Rick lay flat on his back on the ground, completely helpless. As he was wearing only a lightweight cotton shirt, the blacktop immediately started burning his skin. He was too close to the van for me to push him into a sitting position, and at 6’2” and over 200 pounds I had no chance of moving him.

I didn’t have a cell phone. It was a long way back to the building and I would have to leave Rick alone.

“Can I help?”

I turned and found a strange man standing there.

“He fell,” I said weakly. “He’s getting burned.”

The stranger nodded and stepping past me, he leaned over, scooped Rick up as if he were a small child and sat him in the van. As he stepped away I swooped in and fastened the seatbelt. It felt as if a cool breeze was blowing over me, the relief was so great.

As I tried to swallow the lump in my throat I turned to thank the man who had saved us from certain disaster.

“Where did he go?” I yelped.

I looked around but he was nowhere to be seen. No cars were moving, and given the distance involved I didn’t see how he could have gone out of sight in the few seconds that had passed. For that matter, in retrospect, I couldn’t imagine where he had come from in the first place.

“He’s gone. He just vanished!” I said as I got behind the wheel and jammed the key into the ignition.

We didn’t speak on the drive home. Falling was Rick’s greatest fear and we still had to get him out of the van, onto the scooter, into the house, back off the scooter and into his chair. He was very tired and would be able to offer even less help than usual. Each transfer was another chance for mishap.

Home and safely in his chair, Rick dozed off almost immediately. I collapsed at the breakfast bar sipping a tall glass of cold water with a lemonade chaser and thought about what had happened. Surely there was some logical explanation. We did not speak of it that evening and I put it out of my mind.

That night as I lay in bed, I found that I had not put it out of my mind at all. I thought and thought but could not come up with an explanation. Early morning light crept in my window before I fell asleep.

When I got up I was still puzzled. Usually I would spend the morning puttering in my kitchen, but that day I found all I could do was sit and think about the previous day’s events. I believed in angels, I supposed, in theory, but I was not prepared to tell anyone I had just had a chat with one.

I was still sitting there when Rick came around the corner on his scooter. Usually he went straight to his chair. We would not speak until he finished his struggle to get settled, at which time I would bring his morning pills and orange juice and we would exchange our first words of the day. But that day he stopped right in front of me.

“It must have been an angel,” he said simply.

“What?” I asked a bit stupefied.

“Yesterday. It must have been an angel,” he repeated and went to his chair. Speechless, I went to get the orange juice.

As I collected his morning pills, one of Rick’s sisters arrived to watch TV with him, as that was all he could do anymore. Sometimes she would convince him to go for a ride around the block as she walked alongside his scooter. I was always glad for him to have somebody to spend time with.

“What’s new?” she asked.

“We saw an angel yesterday,” he replied.

“Oh? What happened?”

“Tell her, Mom,” Ricky said as I handed him his pills.

Of all my children, my youngest daughter was the most likely to believe in something that could not be proven, yet on some level I wished that he had not brought it up. But it was out of the bag now and I knew she wouldn’t let it go, so I told her about what happened, finding myself feeling a little defensive as I did.

“How could that man have just disappeared like that? And how could he have picked Ricky up so easily?” I demanded, the tone of my voice almost daring her to disagree. “I’ve thought and thought and there’s no other explanation.”

“I think you’re right,” she replied simply.

“What?”

“I think you’re right,” she repeated. “It was probably a guardian angel.” With that, the two of them turned to conversation about what to watch on TV, as if an angel popping in was just the most natural thing in the world. I went to the kitchen.

My son is gone now. My daughter never had any trouble believing an angel had rescued us. While I always knew that was the case, I had some trouble actually accepting it. I suppose I was worried some “logical” explanation would come to light and I would be left feeling old and foolish. But now it’s a comfort to know that Rick has somebody to watch over him until we arrive to take over… as we’ve been known to do.

~W. Jones

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