A Wingless Angel

Saturdays are sacred. It’s the one day of the week that I can serve the woman who gave me and my four brothers life. The woman who nurtured us into the men and woman we’ve become. The woman who has already had to say goodbye to one son. (first one on the right…my brother, Rocky)


I can serve the woman, our mother, who taught us how to love by showing us love, never favoring one over the over. Each of us were handed a free pass of forgiveness since we inhaled our first breath, even when we all, at one time or another, made decisions that caused her pain.

I can serve the mother who gave us permission to cry, by letting her tears flow when they needed to. The mother who gave us the courage to fail so we’d inch closer to success each and every time. The Mother who taught us the feelings of a stranger are as important as the feelings of those we love. Don’t hurt either intentionally. Open your arms and welcome the homeless and those with homes. Welcome those with addictions, and afflictions, and disabilities, and those who live a more balanced life.

I can serve the mother who taught us to Be KIND. Be GENTLE. Be GRATEFUL. Be LOVING. Be PATIENT. Be ACCEPTING. BELIEVE in yourself so you will have the capacity to believe in others. Be STRONG; let your friends lean on you, because the day will arrive when you’ll need to lean on them. Be FORGIVING, because one day you’ll be asking for it from someone else. Show COMPASSION and EMPATHY for the weak and the strong, for the hurting and the lost. Yes. I can serve my mother, my teacher, one day a week and take her wherever she wants to go.

Grocery shopping used to be my mother’s social outlet where she’d bump into friends and they’d catch up at the meat counter, swap recipes, and laugh about inside jokes. What was once a joy had morphed into a daunting task that my father had taken over since Mom’s stroke. On this particular Saturday, grocery shopping was her requested destination. She wanted to roam the aisles and choose her own food, instead of those choices being made for her.  With my dad’s help, we jotted down “must have” items to minimize our frustration in what used to be an ordinary task. But nothing was ordinary anymore.

Before my brother died, Mom’s world had already shrunk to the size of a grape.


ImageAphasia has a way of doing that to people. Her speech pathologist used to say, “People with Aphasia are the forgotten ones.” They’re left behind because attempting to communicate is too frustrating for both parties. It requires patience. Endless patience.


Imagine knowing what you want to say, but the words knot up on your tongue and come out as unintelligible. Imagine walking into a grocery store, and among the hundreds of products available, you only want a box of baking soda, but you can’t form the words.

What typically would take 30 minutes, took my mom and me three hours. Though we only had a few items on her list and mine, there were indulgences she wanted that were not written down. I was tired and took deep breaths to stave off my impatience. I bowed my head, and said a mini prayer, asking God to please make this a little easier. Then I touched my mother’s hand and began our Twenty-questions game.

Do you eat it? Yes. Is it a meat? No. Is it seafood? No. Is it in the produce section? Yes. We were getting somewhere. Ten minutes later, I struck gold. Cherry tomatoes. She wanted cherry tomatoes. I asked her to please stay put while I ran back to the produce section and grabbed cherry tomatoes.

ImageNext, we landed in the hotdog section. “Do you want hotdogs?” No, yet she stood and scanned the rows and rows of hotdogs, picking up package after package. Another ten minutes passed when I asked, “Are you sure you don’t want hotdogs?”

She shook her head, lifted her fingers and closed them closer together, and then it hit me. Breakfast sausage links.


As I leave her in the hotdog section, I speed walk, hunting for sausage links. Five-steps later, I turned to check on her. Mom moved the cart and bumped into someone. She teared up and said, “Sorry.” And then I teared up and told my mother I was sorry for leaving her. My mother has a right field cut, which means that part of her world doesn’t exist so she pushed the cart and I pulled it from the front to steer us through the aisles. I didn’t leave her again.

Two and a half hours later, we were ready to checkout, and we both felt as if we’d scaled Everest and almost reached the peak. ALMOST. Between walking up and down the aisles, and the mental and emotional exertion of our twenty-question game playing, Mom’s battery was in need of a charge.


I divided the groceries. Hers and Mine. The groceries wouldn’t fit into one cart. As the young man loaded up a second shopping cart, I was busy devising a strategy of how I was going to maneuver two carts, and an exhausted mother who couldn’t push and steer the cart by herself, and had, at that point, become unstable on her feet.

I couldn’t leave her alone while I went to get my car. So, I had mom push one cart and I pulled it behind me, while I pushed my own in front of me. My tapped-out mother leaned on the cart and it jammed into my ankle. I hobbled outside as people walked by us.

Outside, I struggled to manage the grocery carts and my mother, frightened she was going to fall or wonder out into the parking lot and get struck by a car. And then it happened. An angel walked up to me and said, “Do you need some help.”

An emotion welled up inside of me, deeper, more profound than gratitude. I searched her back for a set of wings. I said, “Thank you. Do you mind standing with my mother while I get my car?”

I ran to my car, slid in the front seat, leaned my head on my hands and cried. What seemed like a simple gesture, safeguarding my mom for all of three minutes, was more valuable to me in that moment than a sack of gold. I pulled myself together, thanked God for making it a little easier, and drove over to Mom and the angel, who stroked my mother’s back.

The angel said, “Hell, I don’t have anything else to do today. Let me help you unload these bags into your car.”

I said, “No, really, it’s okay. I can get it.”

“Where do you want the groceries,” she asked, “in the trunk or the backseat?”

I choked on this new emotion—the one that felt deeper than gratitude. “Backseat,” I said, as I helped my mother into the passenger seat and buckled her in.

When we finished loading the groceries, the angel said, “Can I take the carts for you?”

“No,” I said, overwhelmed by her kindness. “I’ve got them.”

“I’ll take this one,” she said, and grabbed one of the carts.

As she walked away, I yelled to her, “Wait.”

She turned and I jogged toward her. “Can I give you a hug?”

“I’d love one,” she said.

We stood there in a 5-second embrace, stranger to stranger. “Thank you for helping us.”

“It was my pleasure,” the angel said. “I took care of my mother for twenty years.”

When I slid into my seat, my mother said in a perfect sentence, “She is beautiful.”

Angels walk—not fly—into our lives at the most unexpected moments. You never know how one small question, “Do you need some help?” can be a miracle in another person’s day. This woman helped us for about 8 minutes and it was the sweetest 8 minutes that I’ll remember for a lifetime.


I stared at my beautiful mother, grateful that I had another day with her, wondering where next Saturday will take us and if this time, we’ll help to make someone’s day a little easier.

Pay attention, someone needs an angel today. Maybe it will be you.

Now tell us, when did an angel walk into your life?


29 thoughts on “A Wingless Angel

  1. Oh… This made me cry, tears of recognition. Caring for a declining mother is such a privilege. Little struggles to connect are just the thousand different and new ways to say I Love You, Mom. And your angel, too, wanted to share the love in that beautiful exchange she saw happening, knowing just exactly what was happening. So glad you hugged her , which of course you would. She will never forget. Thank you for your post, Susan. Joy and sorrow and the act of giving. Sweet. Love and gratitude to you. Berry

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Awww…thanks my beautiful friend…it truly was a poignant moment of how the tiny little things we can do for each other can change us, and put us in this profound place of gratitude for the kindness of the human spirit.

      LOVE YOU! xoxox

  2. Ram Dass captured it well: “We’re here to walk one another home.” In the smallest of ways, each step can be a joy and a blessed revelation. So many gifts, for evolution and for inner growth, at almost every turn.

    It reminds me that, two mornings ago, I completely missed the presence of an angel entering my life, and even vociferously denied the fact of any “messages” or “help” from The Universe, despite me requesting them the evening before. Then the veil was lifted and I finally “got it.” Talk about “DUHHHH”!

    Thank you for sharing this, Susan, and for shining your light on emotions and allowing them to pass through, once they are recognised.

    Peace, Love and Laughter always.

    G xoxoxox

    1. George,
      Share your Angel story! I want to hear it!! I want to hear anything and everything that comes from you!!

      Peace and love back and all those oodles of hugs! xoxox

    1. Maggie,
      I feel so blessed you are in my life and grateful for the support and love you always give to me. I feel so honored that you reblogged this. I love you!! And Maggie…to your question…I’m saying, YES, YES, YES! xoxox

  3. My dear Susan. Your words ring true and bring tears to my eyes. I can just picture you and your mum in the grocery store with so many choices and the words are not there. God bless you and your mom for making the journey together. She loves you all and appreciates any time you share with her.

    Isn’t it wonderful that there are angels out there to help us in our time of need. I’m so glad the lady offered to help and you gave her a hug. Hugs are soothing and wonderful.

    An angel helped me one day when I had a flat tire at night. 9 pm coming back from yoga on a country road. I bit a pot hole and blew out the tire. It was cold and I couldn’t get the lug nuts off no matter how hard I tried. A young man stopped. I was wary because there wasn’t anyone else around He said he would be back soon. He went and got his father they put on my spare and I was so grateful as I couldn’t do it. I thanked them and my angels for keeping me safe.

    Hugs. Theresa

    1. Theresa…thank you for sharing an Angel story!! I love these kinds of stories. They happen every day all around us. God Bless you Theresa for being another one of my mom’s angels…as I’ve said before…you’ve made such a difference in her life and my dad’s…and mine!

      Love you!!

  4. When did my Angel(s) arrive…? When the Hathaway Family embraced my daughter and I. I am so honored to love you all. Your family gives to me an endless supply of what that woman shared with you.

    It is important for everyone to remember the impact a few moments of kindness can have on those around us. Thank you for sharing your moment. Love you

  5. My wonderful friend. Another truly inspired post. I am touched by this story in many ways. The stranger helping you was a true angel, but not the only one in the story. Your mother is an angel too, for venturing out into that supermarket in the first place, knowing what challenges would be ahead. I know from experience how grueling a trip to the supermarket can be. Her continuing efforts at communicating her thoughts, her truths. She is a testament to human strength.

    And then, you, my dear friend. You too are such an angel in this story. For your commitment to those you love, for your patience, especially at times where you feel anything but patient. For you strength and perseverance. And to that wonderful stranger, I am sure that hug let her know she just met an angel too.

    Love you.

    1. Yvon,
      Thank you my dear friend…you are so insightful…it did and does take Mom such courage to do these tasks that most of us take for granted. And she is the strongest person I’ve ever met in my life. It is an honor for me to be her daughter and to “serve” her in any way I can. She did, after all, serve me and my brothers for years and years, putting her own dreams on hold while she gave us the best she had and continues too. I feel what I do is so small in comparison to what she’s given me…so I’ll continue to walk this journey with her and learn from her what true courage is all about. You are a role model for me as well! Love you!!

  6. Susan, thank you for being a writer and putting into words what some of us feel in our hearts but cannot express. I love you.

  7. Oh sister, you never cease to amaze me.

    I remember the many angels that helped a young American woman lug her life around Paris when she didn’t know a lick of French. The woman was homesick, scared, and exhausted. The kindness of these kindred spirits have never left her-me, that is-just one example of many in a lifetime’s worth of blessings. Angels are everywhere…not just in the outfield. I consider you one of mine.

    So glad we shared some laughter today…I’ll let you know when I’m next in need of a party planner!!! Xo

    1. And Alissia, I consider YOU one of mine! You’re right about them not being in the outfield…I think it’s simply paying attention when we’ve been in the presence of one and when we can be one to others.

      Love you friend! And thanks for reading and laughing with me yesterday. It felt so great to really laugh again.

  8. What a beautiful story! There are angels who lighten our loads for us everyday, in big and small ways, and those who hold up the mirror for us to help our broken hearts open even wider. You are one of those angels for me, Susan. Thank you for sharing a bit of your Saturday adventure with us. XO

    1. Angela,
      So beautiful the way you describe the angels in our life…holding up mirrors and helping broken hearts to open wider. You’ve been an angel in my life since the day we meet…even if I didn’t like putting books away or re-arranging luggage! I love you sister…love you so very much!!

  9. Beautiful post, Susan. I’ve sworn off the Internets for a while till I can get my proverbial s%&! together writing-wise, so I won’t be online much, but I just wanted to tell you that you’ve been one of my angels since we’ve been back in touch. Your light and love shines in every word you write and I can’t wait for the day I get to actually give you a hug again. Our angels most definitely walk among us, that is a fact.

    I’m going to put this angel story in a blog post at some point, but the short version is this: one day not long ago, I accidentally locked my keys, my purse, and my phone in my hot truck with a load of tasty fresh veggies and cold groceries on the front seat, wilting in the sun.

    Long story short, not two minutes later, a tow truck, coming to tow another vehicle, showed up and I asked the driver if he would be kind and pick my lock after he was done towing the car. He agreed, towed the car out on the street and walked all the way back to the parking lot to help me for free. He was my angel and I will always be grateful for his kindness. I got his name and work address and sent him a thank you card. A small gesture, but I hope it made his day the way he made mine.

    Now, I’m betting, to the person whose car he towed, he was the opposite of an angel, but it’s all a matter of perspective right? lol

    I love those surprise angels. If we pay attention, we’ll see they’re everywhere. We just have to learn to let them do their jobs to help us. And in return, we become someone else’s angel. It’s a lovely pay it forward kind of thing.

    Okay, now please don’t be upset if I’m not around for a while. I love you and will be back, but I must must must figure out what I’m writing and the Internets are too distracting!


    1. Kelly,
      For the record, I’ve got to get my @#!% writing life together, too! Secondly, I could never be upset with you over anything and only supportive knowing that you will be attending to your writing, because it will be a gift to all of us. Thirdly, I LOVE this angel story and will look forward to reading about it on a future post. I am happy to hear that getting off the internet does NOT mean you’ll be suspending your posts. I enjoy reading them each and every time…and all you said to be about love and light shining through is true for you as well. PLEASE come back to Maine soon so I can collect my hug and give your angel-armed body one back.

      Love to you soul-sister! xo

    1. Ohhh, Kim, and I so much love and appreciate you and the angel you’ve become in my own life!! Interviews soon…so stay tuned…I’ve started the book…the outline and ten pages writter! Send your chapters along ANY TIME! Hugs back from Maine:-) xoxoxox

  10. I have had six Blessed Men enter my life. They have come whenever I was feeling really low. They were always bathed in golden energy, and so many of their appearance or other things I can perceive would stand out so profoundly that I could never miss their presence, even if I was not functioning at a mental level. The last one came when I was riding the STM Metro Orange Line back from an advanced Yoga class on the Southeast side of Montreal.

    My friend, Stephany had taken me there as an intro to Yoga, and after we had class, because it was so dim; I could not see anything and felt her leave the immediate area. I spent a few minutes looking for her (it was also raining and approaching dark, so I could not see much out there either); and concluded that she must have run off to her next class engagement. Despite the rationale and on the surface level that she needed to go to her next class; I felt left behind, abandoned, which brought up really deep thoughts and what may be old memories that weighed me down as I put on my jacket and walked in the rain towards the STM Metro station.

    I hopped onto the Green line for a few stops, then got off at the Green / Orange junction station to catch the Orange line towards Montmorrency. The metro was really crowded and I held onto one of the triple steel-posts as the train departed the station. I saw many people stream off and onto the train, and as usual, some registered energetically with me, and felt the flash of many emotions as their energetics unravel themselves to me to tell me their story – something of them. Then suddenly, a elegantly dressed man with a long brown coat, a grey and black scarf with all manner of water patterns in exquisite design; and an old 1930s style fedora-like hat with an intensely bright royal purple and candy red feather sticking out from it; stepped onto the train. The energetic from the guy was INTENSE, his face reminded me of an actor I really love – Morgan Freeman, and his manner of dress, ESPECIALLY his feather atop the fedora kept drawing my eyes.

    I stared at him and unraveled his energy for a while – the emotion I felt from him was predominantly that of Joy form the Highest Self, of extreme Faith and Trust; and that God’s favor was upon him like a ray of Golden Light bathing him in its loving warmth; and the resulting glow is of Blessing that radiates out like a sphere of energy. This was wrapped around a man who is unaware of his favor and is going through life day-to-day that somehow remains happy when his world is that of suffering. Wow! What a uplifting experience and energetic I felt from him! After a few stops, the crowd thinned out and this Blessed Man sat down, and I saw an empty seat next to him, and the seat actually faced him. I hesitated for a moment, as my shyness welled up; and finally worked up the nerve to sit next to him. He looked out of the window a bit, and I studied him for a while – elegant dress, truly exquisite design on his scarf, about 90% similar look to Morgan Freeman; and finally I noticed his large golden wristwatch on his left hand.

    At this point, I knew without a doubt that this was a Blessed Man before my eyes, and I greeted him with “Hey brother, how’s it going?”. We strike up a conversation and quickly established that he did speak English. He grew up on an island off the coast near Montreal, and had moved to Montreal 40 years ago. I asked him how his life was, and he shrugged, and indicated that he is alive and Grateful – confirming what I read from him. I respond with something to the effect of God’s favor being always around the corner and waiting to bathe us in its warmth; and we launched into a religious dialog until it was time for him to get off the train – two stops before my own stop at Sauve.

    I felt immediately better once I started to talk to that Blessed Man, and realized that whatever I felt at the time at my lowest; was a mirror of what Stephany must have felt. I resolved to call her after I get back to the place I was staying at, and catch up – by that time I reasoned, she would be out of classes for the day. After a few days of knowing Stephany, I knew that she mirrored me in that she also experienced abandonment / rejection in her life; as have I; and that we both spent a significant amount of our lives living from our minds; being intellectuals at the core.

    As I was thinking all this, I missed my stop at Sauve, and ended up getting off at one stop later, and as I slowly and ponderously walked up from the unfamiliar station upstairs, I was greeted with what seemed to be a Bus hub. It was raining really hard at this point, and I felt the need to take out my phone and look up the GPS / map to get my bearings and figure out a course to get back “home”. As I held the phone in my hand, searching for the appropriate app, the phone rings, and it is Stephany. She asked where I was, and I told her that I started to go back towards “home” and thought that she had rushed off to her next engagement. In actuality, she had stepped outside for a few moments, and when she returned, the others indicated to her that I had left. She was angry at the time because she felt the need to talk about her yoga experience and other things. So the mirror thought of abandonment was confirmed. OOPS, here I went again, making the assumption, when I could have waited a few more minutes or called her. Turns out she had an hour gap between engagements and started towards her next class. We talked for a few minutes while I relayed to her my side of things, and a bit about this experience with the Blessed Man. This would be the first time and mention of the story I write.

    1. Peter,
      It is so nice to have you back! I’ve missed your comments, stories and insights…and what a beautiful story you’ve shared here…packed with reminders…and the mirrors we hold up for each other if we are willing to take a look at our own reflection…and the BLESSED MAN…thank you always, friend, for sharing your stories and wisdom for all of us to learn from. Big love and hugs to you!

      1. Hi Susan,

        I have been absent from your blog for a while, haven’t I? I did not realize that much time had passed. While you were going through your grief for Rocky’s passing, I had a PROFOUND experience near the end of my stay in Montréal, and spent MANY weeks downloading and decoding all the spiritual revelations that came at me like an avalanche. It was a life-changer – and provided so much validations to all my non-mainstream thoughts; secret opinions; and wild wild ideas that I had over my entire lifetime but feared to even speak of.

        With unlimited unconditional Divine Love,

      2. Peter, I hope you are writing down your spiritual revelations…I would LOVE to read them!
        With unlimited unconditional Divine love back to you!

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