A GUARDIAN ANGEL TO WATCH OVER ME
“And who in the devil are you?” She demanded while grasping onto the pole and glaring at me as if I was the devil, miniaturized of course, and taking hold of my shoulder to steady herself as much as to see who it was that just appeared out of nowhere and nearly knocked her flat on her backside, albeit a rather cushioned backside, but still. I was so scared, I think I nearly fainted. When she took hold of my shoulder, I thought for sure she was going to strangle me on the spot. I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as possible and as quickly as possible began saying, “I’m sorry, sorry, sorry” as much as I could utter as I was losing breath and feeling the buzz of a faint coming upon me. And to be sure she didn’t miss a single word that I uttered, I squealed as loud as I could, “please don’t kill me, I didn’t mean it, I swear!”
Noticing the sudden onset of fear of my pending doom, she released my shoulder and asked again, “who are ya child and what to you mean by scaring the daylights out of me and crossing on my property?” I was still so scared, I just stood there staring, unable to say a word to answer her. Moments later, I was crying hysterically like a big baby, mostly from the shock and sudden fear of death from this encounter, in addition to suddenly feeling the pains of hunger in my belly from not eating since the day before, tired and overwhelmed from my night in the dark, haunted shack, not to mention I was rather filthy from my head to my toes and suddenly needing to scratch every exposed area on my body from feeling so itchy from the grime and the night spent wrapped up in the soiled blankets. My sobs did her in, and after dropping her burden, she pulled me into a snug embrace, trying to comfort me saying, “shush now child, now, now, no need for tears. I’m not going to hurt you, baby.” I’ll never forget that day or those words of soothing comfort. I was so comforted by her warmth and her softened tone of voice, her soft petting of my tangled hair, and her large arms protectively chasing all of the fears and tears away. I had never been held like that by anyone. For a moment, I remember feeling strange, as if I would once again faint from the sudden fears that bubbled up inside of me, but then those fears relaxed into soaking in something I was so unfamiliar with yet knowing that for the first time in my life, a need I didn’t understand at the time was being met, and that empty, cold void of emotion, so lacking in my life, a need long lost before I was old enough to even mourn its loss, and so long forgotten, even at such a young age, that I had no idea that what I was suddenly fearing and desiring at the same time was the tender touch of a mother, someone to comfort me instead of telling me to stop acting like a baby or to stop crying or I’d have to wear diapers and drink from a bottle again. For the first time, someone wanted to touch me, regardless of my filth and stench, or the tangled mess of hair that would get stuck in her fingers as she patted my head and brushed through the loose strands.
This was the first time I met my “guardian angel.” She was an older woman, as black as coal, with big brown, perhaps they were even black, eyes that I could swear, if my memory is correct, would sparkle when she smiled. When I first stumbled into this angel, she wore a long, black cotton dress that went to the floor, covering all but the tips of her sandaled ashy-gray feet. She wore a dingy-white, soot-stained apron over her dress, which had to large pockets in the front, filled with wooden clothes pins. Covering her hair, she wore a dark handkerchief, either black or dark brown, I am not sure, and the laundry basket, which my intrusion had knocked to the ground, was back up against her hip and refilled with the wet laundry which she was getting ready to hang up to dry.
Around her neck, she wore a necklace with a heart locket that held a picture of a son she had lost in the Vietnam War. I specifically recall the locket, because after some weeks had passed, and feeling rather comfortable with my new friend, I had asked to see inside the locket when I noticed that it had a clasp to open and snap shut. At first she said no but would not give me a reason. She simply responded saying, “no, because I don’t want to open it, and now run along home!” Her gruff tone and quick send off had me confused and feeling as if I had hurt her feelings, and I remember to this day suddenly feeling that I was losing something very special and I just knew my heart would break if she wouldn’t let me come back to visit again.
I believe I waited maybe a day or two before wandering back down to her little house, and using the excuse that I wanted to play with her kids, knowing full well they were in school at that time! When that excuse was followed by a “harrumph!” as a response, I then asked to play with her cat. “No,” she replied with somewhat less of a “harrumph.” I believe this is the day that I won the heart of this angel sent from heaven, for somehow I knew I was softening her heart towards me. “Well, can I just sit here if I promise not to say anything? You don’t have anybody to play with and neither do I.” I told her with much confidence as I plopped myself onto her porch swing. “Only if you promise, I don’t have the patience today for your non-stop chatter yungin, got a lot on my mind and I means to get things figured out today. “ Our initial conversations and a few like this one are so fresh in my memory, that even today when thinking back to these precious times, I cannot hold back the lump in my throat and the sadness I feel for not knowing today where she is, if she’s even still alive, did she think of me or miss me after our lives parted ways?