Saturday, April 30, 2011

Angels



Angels, Once in a While
Author Unknown

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave 15 dollars a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed, crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money - fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. 

I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. 

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.)

It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car - or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. 

I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. 

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

38 comments:

Ky said...

Big lump in my throat.

Tracy P. said...

Perfect story to go with that angel face! Love it!

Diana...aka...MeMe said...

Random Act of Kindness... there is nothing sweeter!

Jen said...

everyone needs a good cry now and then. Thanks for mine. ;)

M said...

No matter how many times I have read that, it makes me cry every single time. Sometimes it's hard to be happy with what we have...or to do a simple ramndom act of kindness...but that really makes you think :)
Happy Saturday!

Grandma J said...

What a wonderful story. I believe in Angels too. YOU are one of them.

Mildred said...

Very moving story! And yes, sometimes angels cross our path and help us carrying our heavy burden.
Loved visiting your blog. Thanks for sharing;o)
And thanks for visiting my place and taking the time to comment;o)
Have a nice and happy weekend¤

Just Bits and Pieces said...

This story gets me EVERY time!!! I believe in angels! Beautiful shot!

Farmgirl Paints said...

there really are angels...they walk among us. even in indiana - wow!

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

ohh... tears... beautiful story becky! ♥

Leovi said...

Truly a beautiful angel
.

lifebythecreek said...

Dear me, Becky.. did you HAVE to make me cry? Perhaps we need to do a hanky code at the top of your posts; this would have been a 4-hanky one. Beautiful little angel in that photo, and beautiful story that reminds us that God lives in us all....

Gigi said...

Thanks, you've left me crying so hard I can't see to type....

I love that story. It reminds me that there is always hope and love out in the world after all.

jlo said...

Love...and this is why I'm teaching the girls to give at our school food drives for the food pantry and why we adopt a family at Christmastime...should be more than just the holidays, though shouldn't it?

Susan said...

Oh my...beautiful!!

Simple Girl said...

We've all had angel moments if we think about it. It's humbling to remember just how much God cares!

Hawklady said...

great story! I certainly hope it's true.

Karin said...

*sniffle* Thank you for sharing the story. Very touching. And that little angel face is darling.

Valeria said...

beautiful story Becky!

Tamar SB said...

She is so adorable! And I love the word you choose to accompany the pictures, always so moving!

Tamar

Formerly known as Frau said...

tears in my coffee this morning Becky! Thanks for sharing!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Sweet, beautiful, touching. I heart Angels.

One said...

This is really touching. Thank you for sharing.

Mrs4444 said...

This made me cry! Thanks for the link.

jen@odbt said...

I believe it. I had an angel help me last week. Thank goodness for the good people in the world.

Dyche Designs said...

Inspirational stories like that really make you think . . . it brought a lump to my throat.

Tiaras said...

. . .big tear running down my cheek . . . love the little red head!

Chic Homeschool Mama said...

Her curls are amazing!

Shey said...

such beautiful angels, I'm so blessed I got to work with beautiful toddlers today, what a blessing children are. =)

Lisa said...

WOW! Beautiful Becky!

Happy Sunday...love your photo too. :)

xoxo

Jason, as himself said...

I love stories like this!

Maddy said...

I do believe in Angels....and they come in all different shapes, sizes and colors too :) Beautiful story this dreary Monday morning :)

Sarah said...

What a sweet photo. I love the processing.

Serline said...

Cute little angel, but what a beautiful story!

Kari said...

What a touching story!

Red Chestnut Photography said...

Awww Becky so sweet! I loved this sweet story! The picture is lovely, soft and sweet too!

Becca said...

What an amazing story! People can make such a difference just by doing nice things for others :)

Emily said...

What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it!