She reads the Bible every morning. She also smokes off-brand cigarettes. For an old-school Methodist like her, the two go hand in hand.

She’s eighty-four and frail. She digs a cigarette from a carton, her daughter lights it. The doctor says she shouldn’t smoke, but the Good Lord understands.

She tells a story.

“After my husband left us,” she begins, “I was raising my kids, doing all I could to survive. He left me with eighteen bucks in our bank account—no lie.”

Then, the worst happened. One day, she walked into work and her boss fired her.

Instead of crying, she lost her temper. She attacked him. She threw a lunch bucket at him. She landed several good slaps to his face. Her friends pulled her away. This woman, in case you’re wondering, is a regular barrel of gunpowder.

That night, she loaded her children into a station wagon and drove straight for her sister’s in South Carolina. Radio blasting. Cigarettes burning.

“I was crying,” she says. “And worried about everything, I was just sick.”

Her car broke down somewhere outside Athens, Georgia, at two in the morning. An empty highway. Not a soul for miles.

Her station wagon sat in a ditch. Her children were in the backseat, asleep. She leaned against her steering wheel and the tears came freely. This was officially rock bottom.

Her sobbing was interrupted by the sound of transfer truck brakes, when a big rig pulled behind her with its Earth-shaking engine. Headlights blaring.

A man stepped out of the cab and walked toward her.

She recalls: “Here I was, a young woman, in the middle of nowhere, and this man comes walking up. I was pretty scared.”

He was tall. She remembers this very clearly. And older. He asked if she needed help. She told him what had happened with a nervous voice.

His smile put her at ease. He said, “Pop the hood, ma’am. Lemme see what I can do.”

And so it was, beneath the glow of a flashlight, he made clanking noises beneath the hood and the two strangers to know each other.

“You could tell he was such a nice man.”

She offered him a smoke. He thanked her. He tinkered beneath her car with a ratchet—cigarette wedged between his lips. She held the flashlight steady while he performed a veritable automotive miracle.

“Try it now,” he finally said.

Success.

Instead of shaking the man’s greasy hand, she hugged him. Then, even though she didn’t mean to, she turned into a puddle and cried all over his shirt.

“Oh, don’t cry,” he said. “You’re gonna be alright, sweetie. Everything’s gonna be alright.”

After she gathered herself, they parted ways. He walked to his truck. She crawled into her car. She remembers taking a few deep breaths, starting her engine, then straightening her hair and glancing into her rear mirror.

But something was wrong.

There were no headlights in the mirror, no rumbling engine. No truck. She stepped out of her vehicle and saw nothing but the empty highway. The big rig had vanished.

“There’s no way he could’ve made a U-turn,” she goes on. “It was too narrow of a road, and I woulda heard if he did. He was just gone.”

This memory makes her laugh. Laughing turns into a coughing fit. Coughing turns into moments of deep reflection.

“Where do you think he came from?” her daughter asks.

The Methodist says she doesn’t know. And how could she? Besides, it was a long time ago. All she knows is that for as long as she lives she’ll never forget that man. Or what he said to her.

Everything’s going to be “alright.”

Because it will, you know.

40 comments

  1. Norma Den🇿🇦 - September 15, 2021 7:39 am

    Oh what hope that gives me. Life throws bricks at us in various ways, but trying to be positive is pretty hard. Going through a bit of a bumpy patch right now but already this morning here in RSA I’ve had several uplifting messages, some from virtual strangers. God works in mysterious ways. This “letter” from you today has also lifted and given me hope. Bless you.

    Reply
    • Deborah Lockard - September 15, 2021 1:00 pm

      Norma, always remember, you matter! Whatever is wrong throw it into the river of God’s abiding love and let him carry it away. If it’s small imagine it to be a tree branch and if large a huge log you have to roll down to the water’s edge. But the current will carry it all away so you can move on with your life. You are in my prayers, Deb Lockard 🇺🇸

      Reply
  2. Sonya Tuttle - September 15, 2021 10:58 am

    Angels are all around!

    Reply
  3. Ginny Judson - September 15, 2021 11:01 am

    This one gave me goosebumps!

    Reply
  4. Steve Leachman - September 15, 2021 11:08 am

    I had similar experience when my van broke down. It was decades ago. I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere but I was stuck. The angel, that’s who I think it was, got my van running. God dies work in mysterious ways. Thanks for the stories. They give hope in these troubled times.

    Reply
  5. Larry E. Notestine - September 15, 2021 11:14 am

    Sean, I swear, your insights come by at just the right time. They — and you — are a blessing to me.

    Reply
  6. Leigh R Amiot - September 15, 2021 11:36 am

    I, too, believe in angels.

    Reply
  7. Debbie g - September 15, 2021 11:44 am

    First. Norma. This stranger is also praying for you. I truly believe you are going to be alright too And Sean. What a blessing you are every day of our lives love to all

    Reply
  8. Bob - September 15, 2021 12:01 pm

    Tell them Big Joe sent you

    Reply
  9. Ricky - September 15, 2021 12:07 pm

    Amazing story of how God sends angels to help us in times of need, Let us never forget there is a God that is there to help us

    Reply
  10. Kathie - September 15, 2021 12:09 pm

    Thank you. I needed that.

    Reply
  11. McDonald Plummer Jr - September 15, 2021 12:19 pm

    Thanks for the reminder we should remember every day!

    Reply
  12. Helen De Prima - September 15, 2021 12:23 pm

    Always be willing to welcome angels in unfamiliar forms.

    Reply
  13. Celeste Sheppard - September 15, 2021 12:37 pm

    Oh Sean! I needed that so much today. I believe in angels and that man was one. Sometimes we need someone to tell us that we are going to be alright.

    Reply
  14. Shelton A. - September 15, 2021 12:44 pm

    Angels do come when we need them sometimes. God bless y’all.

    Reply
  15. Maggie Priestaf - September 15, 2021 12:50 pm

    Your “angels unaware” stories are so inspiring and encouraging. Also, Sean, it makes me grateful for what I have ALWAYS had when I read of the suffering of these special people whose stories you share. Thank you again and again.

    Reply
  16. dapeek43 - September 15, 2021 12:57 pm

    Amen!
    Debbie

    Reply
  17. Paul McCutchen - September 15, 2021 12:59 pm

    Great stories Sean along with this one

    Reply
  18. Suellen - September 15, 2021 1:14 pm

    There’s a local story of some young girls that were involved in a horrific traffic accident out in the middle of nowhere. I’m not the storyteller you are but according to the story (this was actually on the news) a stranger appeared out of the fields got the girls out of the car before it exploded and stayed with them calming their fears and praying with them until the emergency crews arrived. He then just disappeared. Nobody saw where he went. News crews searched for him to be part of the story but he was never found. Thanks for this mornings reminder that angels are surrounding us.

    Reply
  19. Shelly Briscoe - September 15, 2021 1:54 pm

    I enjoy your stories and appreciate the uplifting they give my heart.
    The Angles are such a part of our world and shows us another side of God’s love.
    Shelly

    Reply
  20. Nancy - September 15, 2021 2:11 pm

    I had the same experience except with a flat tire, except I know where my truck driver came from. Heaven.

    Reply
  21. AlaRedClayGirl - September 15, 2021 2:29 pm

    Miracles are everywhere if only you keep your eyes and heart open to them.

    Reply
  22. Stacey Wallace - September 15, 2021 2:48 pm

    The man was obviously an angel. No doubt in my mind. God sends angels to protect us. That’s recorded in the Bible. Thanks, Sean, for starting my mornings off right.

    Reply
  23. Linda Moon - September 15, 2021 4:21 pm

    Everything is usually ‘alright’ in the end. This storytelling woman reminded me somewhat of Mother Mary, God Rest Her Soul. She’s alright, too, you know. God love the laughter from women who tell their stories and the columnist who passes them on.

    Reply
  24. Dawnie B - September 15, 2021 5:40 pm

    You never forget the moment you were touched by our Holy God!

    Reply
  25. Maru - September 15, 2021 5:56 pm

    God’s angels are all around us

    Reply
  26. Norma Den🇿🇦 - September 15, 2021 6:53 pm

    I want to thank Debbie G and Deborah Lockard for their kind words and prayers. Much appreciated from two more Angels. Some years ago my son Tony was in a bad motorcycle accident when someone pulled across in front of him. A woman sat with him till the paramedics etc got there, all she told him was her name was Monica, and once help arrived she disappeared, remember the series Touched by an Angel. Another time he was in another accident, a petrol tanker driving behind him stopped and blocked the oncoming traffic until help arrived, the drivers then disappeared. I firmly believe Angels surround us 24/7. Bless you all.

    Reply
  27. Linda - September 15, 2021 8:21 pm

    All is well and All will be well….Julian of Norwich.

    Reply
  28. John D. Belcher - September 15, 2021 8:28 pm

    Ok Sean, Same thing happened to me. Working offshore in the GOM. Headed south on a short cut outside of Iowa, Louisiana, the road comes to a T with a STOP sign. It’s Feb. and freezing outside. I’m in a raggedy Oldsmobile. I stop, the engine dies and the car goes black….no lights at all. I get out, open the hood, look at the engine with a match, no flashlight, it’s 3AM. I’m thinking I’m gonna be late for boat to the platform. I look up from under the hood and there’s a guy with one of these dually PU’s with lights all over the truck. Tall guy, kind of slender and he’s got on a cowboy hat and boots. Walks over, asks what’s wrong, gets a light out of his truck comes back with a SCREWDRIVER of all things and says for me to get in and “give it a shot” when I say GO. I do, he says GO. The engine turns over and starts up, lights come on…all is fine. Now I am at the T in the road….south of I-10…cow pasture as far as you can see….flatland as a pancake…I get out to say THANKS and offer some cash…The cowboy and the truck are gone ! No lights in sight, no sound of a truck leaving or a door shutting…Never heard or saw a thing after getting in my car other than the “GO”….ANGELS AMONG US !!

    Reply
  29. Liz Watkins - September 15, 2021 8:39 pm

    We need a lot of Angels down here in Grand Isle, La!
    Ida took 98% of our beautiful paradise but left all of our hearts and souls intact.
    Please pray for our little Paradise!
    God’s gotcha Norma❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️

    Reply
    • Norma Den 🇿🇦 - September 16, 2021 6:30 am

      Thank you Liz. After yesterday’s kind words from DebbieG & Deborah & Sean’s always good message I’ve taken a more positive attitude. Husband with severe Alzheimer’s is taking its toll but God has complete control. Bless you.

      Reply
      • Stacey Wallace - September 16, 2021 4:26 pm

        Norma, praying for you and your husband. My Daddy and Aunt had Alzheimer’s. Seeing your spouse with that disease would be really rough. God will never leave you, and I pray that He gives you strength.

        Reply
      • Liz Watkins - September 16, 2021 6:40 pm

        God Bless you❤️

        Reply
      • Liz Watkins - September 16, 2021 6:43 pm

        God Bless you Norma🙏🏻❤️❤️🙏🏻

        Reply
  30. MAM - September 16, 2021 12:22 am

    We all rely on the angels around us that God has sent to us. Some we know; some we don’t, but they are angels nonetheless.

    Reply
  31. Karen Snyder - September 16, 2021 3:41 am

    I neither saw nor heard my angel the morning the 18-wheeler rudely interrupted my commute to work. The incident totaled my car, but I walked away with only a broken fingernail. I knew then, as surely as I remember it now, that an angel had been riding shotgun. So, when you share these experiences others have had, I never doubt them for a minute. 💕

    Reply
  32. mj - September 16, 2021 11:12 am

    I really need to start reading your column before I put my makeup on….thank you for your encouragement.

    Reply
  33. Chasity Davis Ritter - September 16, 2021 2:59 pm

    I love your Angel stories. It’s always so good to hear them. We never know when we’re gonna need one and it might be our turn.

    Reply
  34. Ann - September 17, 2021 12:33 am

    Your Mother was right!

    Reply
  35. Guy Wilson - September 17, 2021 1:30 pm

    No doubt we encounter angels as well as flesh and blood sent by God in times of greatest need. I sometimes wonder if an angel must be sent because no Christ-filled human is close at hand to do His bidding. I guess the “good Samaritan” was no angel, but did angelic work. It is too often the sins of omission that beset us. Lord help us to be helpers and encouragers for the discouraged and suffering. Is He watching me, hoping He won’t have to send that angel after all? In His loving grace and mercy, it’s always going to be “alright”. But he needs Servants to remind others of that truth. Will I answer, “Here I am Lord, send me”?

    Reply

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