Do angels watch over us? Have you ever experienced divine intervention? Here are two examples from my life.
Mom grew up in South Dakota and had little sympathy for Baltimore County snow days. She trekked to school in major snow drifts and wind. School was only canceled if the temperature reached a frigid 40° below (so she claimed).
Therefore, my protests about going to school one snowy day, when for some reason school was not canceled, reached deaf ears. Dad must not have been home because he probably would have driven me. Mom was standing firm, however.
The walk to Pikesville High was approximately three-quarters of a mile. Three to four inches of snow had already fallen. I reluctantly left our house on Wickfield Road and walked the half block to Woodcourt Road. The snow was coming down heavily. It was blowing sideways. My glasses were covered by the time I reached the corner. I could barely see where I was going. Then, trudging up Woodcourt Road, it thundered! Today we call that “thunder-snow,” but this was a new weather phenomenon.
Anyway…I clutched my books and my brown-bagged lunch as tightly as I could. Keeping myself and my stuff warm and dry was impossible. I was halfway up Woodcourt Road, towards Sanzo Road, when a large German Shepard-like dog bounded towards me.
“Go away!” I hollered. Dogs, especially strange ones, scared me. The dog didn’t listen, of course, and continued walking with me, sniffing my lunch (a peanut butter sandwich, fruit and cookies). By the time I reached Sanzo Road, I was crying. Between the glasses being covered with snow and fogged up with tears, I was blind.
Crossing Woodcourt to get to Sanzo, my ankle twisted on the snow-covered curb. Meanwhile, the dog trotted alongside me. Occasionally, it would run a few feet ahead and wait for me to catch up. Then, off it would go a few feet ahead, waiting for me. My prayers for this dog to lose interest in me and go away were not being answered.
I reached the corner of Smith Avenue and Sanzo Road. This presented a dilemma. The school was on the other side of the street, less than a half mile away. How would I cross Smith Avenue without being hit by a car? It was impossible to see. I resumed walking towards the school, putting one snowy foot in front of the other. The dog continued to race ahead 10-15 feet and then wait for me to catch up.
That’s when I realized that the dog was leading me to school. Somehow, it knew that I couldn’t navigate on my own. As I got closer to the corner of Smith Avenue and Labyrinth Road, Pikesville High’s location, I knew that my “seeing eye” dog buddy would help me cross the street. Due to its keen hearing, it certainly wouldn’t cross unless no cars were coming. When the pooch crossed the street, I crossed, too.
My new best friend followed me to the school’s back entrance. He left once I was safely inside. An angel in the form of a dog? Perhaps.
Dad received a diagnosis of dementia a few months before Mom died in 1999. He was adamant that there was nothing wrong with him. Interventions or reasoning did not work. His mantra was, “You’re wrong!”
“The 36-Hour Day” by Peter Rabins was the “go-to” book for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. I bought Mom a copy. She needed help dealing with many issues, such as Dad’s inability to keep the checking account straight, forgetfulness, disorientation at night (sundowning) and most of all, driving.
Giving up the car was a thorny issue, especially for someone who didn’t believe anything was wrong with him. One night, however, Dad drove to a meeting and couldn’t find his way home. From then on, Mom insisted on being in the car with him so she could tell him where to go, when to turn, when to stop, etc.
Mom died in early October that year. Two weeks after her funeral, Dad called me confused and in a panic. “I’m at Northwest Hospital. I was in a car accident.” Though the car was totaled, he suffered only scrapes and bruises, as did the other driver. Of course, he insisted that it was the other guy’s fault. It wasn’t — Dad ran through a red light. Within a few days he forgot about the accident and didn’t remember why he was without a car. What a relief it was that he no longer had a vehicle.
At his house, several days after the accident, I was going through Mom’s things. I found her copy of “The 36-Hour Day.” A bookmark held the place where she had stopped reading — the section on “driving and your loved one with dementia.”
I knew then that I had an angel watching over us. It was comforting to know that she was there to protect us even as I dealt with my overwhelming grief.
Read more by Eileen Creeger.