30: A Night to Remember

30: A Night to Remember

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

A Night to Remember

There are angels all among us, sent down from up above, to offer guidance and protection and unconditional love.

~Author Unknown

“Wow! Best concert ever!” my friend, Judi, raved. It was July 6, 1967. We had just attended a performance by Simon and Garfunkel at the Winnipeg Auditorium, an intimate concert hall in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Of course, the concert was amazing — just the two men and a guitar and the most incredible harmonies ever.

“Please, please, can we stay to see if they sign autographs?” Judi had begged after the echoes of the last encore had died away.

Never going to happen, I thought, but why not? Imagine my shock when, not ten minutes later, out popped Simon and Garfunkel by the back entrance, pens in hand, to sign anything presented them by the eager handful of fans, including my penny loafer. Judi got a kiss on the cheek from Simon and I got a hug from Garfunkel. Life was complete!

We waved as they hopped into their black limo, and just stared as it disappeared into the evening traffic. We could not believe what had just happened! We pinched ourselves and started home.

“Want to check out Memorial Park?” Judi suggested. Memorial Park was an oasis of grass and trees in the center of the business and government area of this capital city. In the 1960s it was a favorite haunt of the local hippies who would gather, guitars in hand and flowers in their hair, to serenade one another and ponder the political and musical happenings of our American neighbor.

That night, several different groups were sprinkled amongst the treed areas of the park. We meandered from group to group, savoring the music of some and scampering discretely away from the less harmonious ones!

“What do you think is going on over there?” I pointed to a small group huddled together under some trees in the direction of the concert hall we had left earlier. We decided to investigate. Imagine our surprise to find Simon and Garfunkel nestled amongst the twenty or thirty musicians there. Apparently, they had heard about Memorial Park and had wanted to investigate themselves. Two blocks from the Auditorium, they had ditched the limo and snuck back to the park. Picking this one well-secluded group, they begged the musicians not to spread the word of their arrival and plunked themselves on the grass. They would not play or sing themselves, but told the group they had come to hear them sing. We quietly slipped into the group, and time stood still as these two marvelous, gracious men leaned back and savored the local talent and a few moments of anonymity. Then they were gone.

Finally, I glanced at my watch. “Oh, no! It’s after midnight!” I wasn’t that worried about my curfew, but more terrified to realize my local bus, the Ness Express, had stopped running at midnight. The closest bus stop now was two miles of dark streets away from my house. We raced to the transit station. I madly hugged my co-conspirator and hopped on my bus while Judi ran to find hers.

By the time the bus pulled up to the stop, it was really late and really dark. I hunched my shoulders and tried to look invisible as I started the long walk home. Just when I began to celebrate the dearth of traffic, the lights of a car slowly approaching from the rear picked me out in the shadows. I was instantly terrified. Why had that car slowed down and why was it now inching along behind me? I sped up, looking for an escape route. I heard the car stop about twenty feet behind me and a car door open, but I was too terrified to glance back. At that moment, I felt pressure at my elbow and looked up. A very tall, broad-shouldered man had taken my arm and was walking beside me. Instinctively I knew he was not there to harm me. He did not say a word but did not leave my side. After a few moments of hesitation, I heard the driver mutter a few not-nice words, get in his car, and slam the door. He turned the car around, gunned the engine, and took off in the other direction.

“Thank you, thank you so much!” Tears of relief streaming down my cheeks, I turned to thank my rescuer. He had vanished.

As remarkable as the concert had been, as impossible as hiding amongst the trees with Simon and Garfunkel had seemed, that night has been emblazoned in my memory forever for a different reason. It was the night I learned that angels really do walk among us.

~Randy Joan Mills

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