Angel Bumps has blessed my life. Each contributor shared a very special and personal moment in their lives. I wonder if any of us have any idea how many hearts the book has touched. I joke that the book has wings of its own and finds people who need some tender care. The co-incidences are too often and too many to count. I don’t think it’s a co-incidence at all. I think God has a hand in distribution.
A month ago, I saw an older gentleman walking outside the retirement/ assisted living home where I help a woman every day. I knew him as the man who pushed his wife with Alzheimers in her wheel chair daily. He’d bundle her up and off they’d go for fresh air. They’d sit at a bench by the pond and talk for hours. Actually, he talked. He isn’t sure she could understand what he was saying. He told her how much he loved her. The day I saw him walking was the day after she passed away.
Jake is eight-eight years old. He wears farmer bib jeans and sports a white ponytail. His eyes are soft blue. I asked if he was okay and he looked up with tears in his eyes. “No, I’m not okay. I lost my wife and she was my everything,“ he cried. I hugged him. “She didn’t know me anymore, but I knew her. I loved her so much.” I knew this was true. People who saw him taking her for walks all mentioned what a love story they had together.
I gave him Angel Bumps to read. I told him about my mom’s white butterflies covering my car when I missed her just after her funeral. He smiled and said, “That gives me hope.”
Last week, I got a call from his caretaker. “Jake would like to see you and talk if you can spare a little time. He says you gave him a book.” I knew immediately who she meant. Yesterday I went to visit him. He said, “I didn’t think you’d come. I’m so glad you did.” I laughed and said, “Are you kidding me? I’m honored you called me.” Then he laughed and said, “Oh no! I’m honored that you came.” We had a mutual admiration thing going on.
He began to tell me about Margaret, his wife of forty years. He took care of her when her dementia started ten years ago. The last three she was in the assisted living connected to the independent living area. Every day, he went downstairs and wrapped her in blankets and took her for a long walk. “She was the love of my life. I never knew I could love someone that much.” Now his lip was quivering. I held his hand and he squeezed back.
He picked up Angel Bumps and said, “This is my second reading of the stories.” There were little pieces of paper sticking out as bookmarks. “I made some notes on them. The one where Fran sees her husband sitting at the bottom of her bed is something I hope I’ll see one day.” Sure enough when I opened to the story, he had underlined that passage.
“I’m going to the VA next week and I’m hoping to meet Philip Sullivan who wrote the story about his grandmother’s plates and the matching birds arriving.” Once again, the passages were underlined. Phil worked at the VA for years and just relocated two weeks ago, but I told him I’d get his message to him. “I want him to know how much his story touched me,” he said with quivering lips.
I invited Jake to come for dinner next week. He smiled and said he thought he could do that. I’m a total stranger to him, but I told him we’d be buddies before he knew it. He smiled again with the lips starting to quiver. “My wife was the only one who ever told me she loved me. I didn’t get that as a kid. I loved her so much.”
When it was time to leave, I promised to visit him often. He said, he’d like that. I hugged him farewell. “I know Margaret will let you know she’s still close, Ernie. She loves you so much,” I whispered to him. He squeezed tight and nodded his head. He walked me to the door, and I blew him a kiss. He smiled and blew one back, chuckling.
As I walked down the hall, I took a deep breath and thought about what had just transpired. I felt so blessed. My heart was so full. To know the book is helping Jake and others heal, just warned my heart. I wish every author in the book got to experience the love their stories are putting out in the world.
I am very blessed.
(Names have been changed)