100. Divine Connection

100. Divine Connection

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Divine Connection

Angels are not merely forms of extraterrestrial intelligence. They are forms of extra-cosmic intelligence.

~Mortimer J. Adler

The telephone rang as my family wearily stumbled into our home after a five-hour drive from my grandmother’s house. I still remember my disbelief, four days earlier, when my parents told me she was dying. We left Winston-Salem, North Carolina where my father was finishing his residency at Wake Forest Medical School to travel to my grandmother’s house. After staying for four days, she seemed to rally. Since she seemed better and my father needed to get back to the hospital, we went home.

My grandmother had been in a wheelchair for as long as I could remember, but I never thought of her as ill. Instead I remembered her as someone who always had a big laugh, stories and rhymes that would have us glued to the edge of our seats, and someone who always had ice pops, homemade from Kool-Aid, waiting for us. She had a mischievous grin and the smell of gardenias permeated the air around her house.

I now know, however, that she was sick and had been for a long time. She had an autoimmune disease that affected her arteries and caused her to lose the use of both legs and one arm. Even so, she would play tag with us as we darted around her wheelchair and she reached out to touch us. Now as an adult, I believe she did not seem sick because I, along with my siblings, had spent our childhood in West Africa where our parents helped run a hospital. We were accustomed to seeing people impaired by both war and disease. However, during this last visit I studied my paternal grandmother’s pale face as she lay in her bed and I knew that my beloved Ma was indeed dying.

My father answered the phone as my older brother lifted the last piece of luggage from the trunk. A woman on the other end said, “I have the person on the line that you have been trying to reach.” My father was totally confused. The person he was trying to reach? He had been driving for five hours, and this was long before cell phones. What was she talking about? He was just about to hang up when he heard his sister’s voice.

“Oh! Keith!” she said urgently. “I am so glad you called! Ma has taken a turn for the worse and she is not expected to make it through the night; you need to hurry back as fast as you can.” My father did not take the time to tell her that he had not called; the phone had just rung at our house. My parents hustled the luggage and us four tired children back into the car and rushed back to South Carolina.

We arrived back at my grandmother’s house in time for my father and his sister to sit together holding their mother’s hands and talk to her one last time. Loving memories were shared and precious goodbyes said. Goodbyes that would not have been possible if the phone had not rung at our house with the strange message that connected my father to his sister. But who made the phone ring and who was the other woman on the line?

What happened that day? The phone rang simultaneously at both our house and my aunt’s house. When my aunt answered her phone, her brother—my father—was on the line. My aunt had not attempted to call my father, knowing that it would take at least five hours for us to get home. My father had left South Carolina thinking his mother was doing much better, but someone, somewhere knew differently. Someone, an angel perhaps, knew he needed to speak to his sister to learn about his mother’s sudden decline. And if he wanted to say goodbye to his mother, he would need to immediately drive back to her bedside.

My family went back to Africa for many more years. And as life progressed with its times of troubles and times of triumph, I am certain my father thought of the night the angel called. Called to allow him to say goodbye to the mother he loved.

~Alisa Edwards Smith

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