“Entertaining Angels,” column for Dec. 31, 2013

It was just a small party, a few good friends who’d understand, I told myself, if they came to dinner and I wasn’t home.
Shortly before our guests were due, I became painfully aware that something wasn’t right. And it was getting wronger.
OK, I’ll just say it. I had what is known in medical terms as a UTI (urinary tract infection) or in more descriptive terms as an FOLH (flat-out living hell.)
When I told my husband we might need to cancel dinner, he said, “Quick, call the doctor!”
The office was closed. The answering service said my doctor wouldn’t prescribe an antibiotic over the phone and I should go to an emergency room or an urgent care clinic.
I pictured waiting for hours in the ER with people bleeding and coughing and throwing up. It was not how I wanted to spend the evening. So I called the nearest pharmacy with an urgent care clinic. It was open, but would close in an hour.
I grabbed my keys, told my husband to start without me and I’d be back as soon as I could.
Remarkably, I was first on the waiting list. There was only one patient ahead of me in the exam room. So I texted my husband to say I should be home soon.
Then I sat down and began studying the medications on the shelves. Who knew there were so many ways to treat a cold?
An hour later, I decided the person in the exam room was having a heart transplant and I’d be there all night. My pain was worsening. I was hungry, cold, dangerously close to tears and I really hate to cry in public.
As a child, when I cried, my grandmother would nestle me in her great pillowy bosom, pat me just so, and whisper the magic words: “There, there.”
That was all it took. “There, there” with the proper patting made everything better.
I have used those words countless times over the years to comfort my children when they were hurting; to soothe my mother when she was dying: and once, on a bumpy flight, to stop a woman from screaming, “Oh, God, we’re going down!”
I’ve even tried saying them to myself, but that never seems to work. Maybe the the real magic is knowing that someone cares enough about you to say them?
That’s what I was thinking when I saw her. She was 3 years old, maybe 4, standing by her mother, who was scanning the shelves of cold remedies.
Her long dark curls tangled in knots the way mine and my daughter’s did when we were her age. She wore a red dress, white tights and sparkly shoes, and looked at me with eyes too wise for her years.
When she started toward me, her mother glanced up, checked me out, then nodded and went back to perusing the shelves.
She came close and stopped inches away, studying my face.
“Hey,” I said. “I like your shoes. What’s your name?”
She didn’t speak, just stared into my eyes as if to see beyond them. Her nose was running. She wiped it with a fist.
“You have a cold?” I said. “It’s no fun being sick, huh?”
And then, for reasons I can’t explain, she reached out her small starfish hand and slowly patted my knee, just so, just right, as if to say, “There, there.”
Her mother called to her in Spanish and she turned to run, but looked back once to smile at me. Then they were gone.
Minutes later, hallelujah, the heart transplant patient walked out, and I went in to be tested, examined, diagnosed and given a prescription that I picked up at the pharmacy, with some magic numbing pills that said in their own way, “there, there.”
Then I went home to serve up supper. And it was still warm.
Sometimes we entertain friends. But sometimes, if we’re really lucky, we get to entertain angels in sparkly shoes.

Comments

  1. Sharon Goad says:

    Hello! I want to know if you keep a diary or personal journal? I enjoy journaling, as well as writing poetry. I have several poems copyrighted and have won contests in The World Of Poetry, and I’m in the Who’s Who in Poetry. I truly enjoy your weekly stories in the paper on Sundays. I missed your visit to Salina KS. Hopefully I will be able to attend the next time you are in Salina and or Abilene. I’m a transplanted Californian being reared in Orange County. I miss Newport Beach and the weather as a whole. Nowadays, a small city/town is the only way to fly! I must sign off to avoid boring you. Sincerely, Sharon

  2. JoBeth Hurt says:

    Sharon-I regularly read your column and identify with so many experiences you read about and look forward each Sunday to your article. Just want to say I have read you enjoy hearing from readers or I would not write this. Today your article “Letter to young Eleanor” was in our newspaper. I am also a “Nana” and I took the liberty of changing a few words in your article to send to my precious granddaughter who will be turning 21 on Feb. 14th. Your advice still goes for 21 year olds and she is my favorite granddaughter because she is the only one I have! So I have underlined and changed a few words, but sending your original column and taking no credit for writing it! It brings tears to my eyes when I think of her in her little pink blanket and I want you to know the advice you gave a newborn still can hold for a 21 year old, so save your article! You will need it later and enjoy the years as they go by too fast. Keep up the good writing! JoBeth Hurt, Florence, Alabama

  3. Sharon, your article is published in the Muncie paper on Wednesday now instead of Sunday

  4. Delores Miller says:

    Sharon, I just want you to know how much I enjoy your column. We get it in the Muncie Star Press. The article today was about your brother, Joe. He must be a vert special man to have gone through what he has. Personally I think you are as special as he is. A real fan.
    Delores Miller – Union City, Indiana

  5. Larry Boisclaire says:

    I enjoy your weekly columns that appear in our local paper, Record Searchlight, in Redding CA. I think you might enjoy an author who seems to be cut from the same cloth as you….Kristin Hannah. I haven’t found a bad book of hers yet. My favorite is Winter garden.

  6. Nancy says:

    Happy New Year Sharon. I wish many good things for you and your family in 2014. Hope you return to Northern Indiana again soon.

  7. Mary Gail Edwards says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Your column of today was so good and I got to thinking every single one of your columns is such a great combination of funny and sad and paints such a vivid picture, I just had to write and tell you how much I appreciate your writing.
    Thank you!
    Mary Gail Edwards

  8. Jo says:

    Love it! Not that you were sick and hurting, but the angel with the sparkly shoes. A little God moment for you, to remind you that He knew and He cared.

  9. John Pinckney says:

    Thank you, Sharon, for posting your writings on your website. My wife and I live in Muncie, IN. The local paper stopped publishing your work causing moments of angst on a Sunday morning. Again, thank you…angst-away!

  10. It takes an angel to know an angel. So glad you’re better.

    As always,

    Bruce

  11. Linda says:

    As usual, your story touched my heart.

  12. Kathleen Leveroni says:

    Sandy Sipe Silveria is a close old friend from Tracy, California who occasionally sends your articles to me. I thoroughly enjoy your calmness and sense of peace that surrounds tour writing, whether is is a medical crisis during a dinner party or telling about your solitude on the lake. Randy was a dear old friend that I grew up with in Tracy. He was a sister in laws first date, and one of the kids that was always there since our parents were friends. I see some of the same traits in you and want you to know that I’m indeed sorry that our paths never crossed while he was alive.

  13. Sandy says:

    Mmmm Hmmm….an angel sent to you, with God’s perfect timing….

  14. Whitney says:

    Hey Auntie Sharon –

    I know a great ob/gyn in California who happens to be your niece and would have called in a prescription for you!! Call me next time!

    W

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