The Christmas season. A desolate road. Georgia. It was late. Cold.
He was driving home from work. Windows cracked, smoking a cigarette. He was a lonely old man. No kids. No family.
He was a rough man. He lived in a lonely house. His lonely lawn was overgrown. He’d been married once, long ago. It didn’t work out. In his younger days, he had his share of problems with a bottle.
He heard hollering through his window.
He pulled over. He walked into a dead field, following the sound.
It was a girl, brown-skinned, holding a baby. She was delirious. She moaned. She was burning hot with a fever. The baby was screaming.
He carried them to his vehicle. He drove them home. He laid her in his bed. He held a cold rag to her forehead. He gave her red Gatorade.
She mumbled in a language he didn’t understand.
He phoned his neighbor, who spoke Spanish. The neighbor translated: “Her husband left her. She says she’s been living in the woods…”
“Husband?” the old man remarked. “She doesn’t even look eighteen.”
Her husband had been fired from a factory job. Times got hard. He left. She was homeless overnight.
She’d moved into a tent made from a blue tarp. She was living in the woods, eating food from garbage cans—which had made her sick.
For nine days, the old man stayed beside her bed. Mornings, afternoons, nights. He made chicken soup. He spoon-fed her. He bottle-fed the baby.
He prayed aloud. And when he was done talking to God, he would tell her stories—though she was half-delirious, and unable to understand him.
She was weak. He helped her use the restroom. He cleaned her accidents. He changed the sheets. He kept fluids running through her.
And one afternoon, while warming baby formula in the microwave, balancing a baby on his hip, the girl wandered into his kitchen.
She looked healthy. Refreshed. She spoke, then pointed to her mouth.
So, the old man made a breakfast of colossal proportions. The girl ate so much she had to take a nap. When she awoke, it was to an even bigger supper.
That night, she fell asleep on his sofa, watching TV. He covered her cold feet with a quilt. He watched her sleep and asked God to help her.
And even though they shared no common words, even though he was a fallen man, it only took weeks to become good friends.
And before she left him for Texas, her words were translated to him:
“I believed God had forgotten about me. I thought I would die before anyone ever found me or my baby.”
Then she saw headlights and heard a voice in her delirium. A gentle voice from heaven. The voice said, “It will be okay. Here comes one of my angels.”
He kissed the baby and told them how much he would miss them. He gave her a handful of cash. He watched the bus drive away until the taillights disappeared.
That was a long time ago, but he still thinks about her. He still prays for her.
And he probably always will.
That’s just what angels do.