RONALD—I was walking to school in Michigan, I was 11 years old. We walked to school back then, I know that sounds like a cliché today, but it’s true, back then a lot of us walked a couple miles to school and we never thought twice about it.
This truck pulled up beside me and this weird guy started talking to me and my sister through the open window, and he tried to get us into his vehicle. I started running away, but he chased me.
He jumped out and got me on the ground, and I didn’t know what that man was going to do to me. In a few seconds, this other guy came out of nowhere and yanked my attacker off me. My rescuer was wearing plaid, like a lumberjack, and he looked like Santa Claus. He threw my attacker to the ground and told me to “Run!” So I did, and when I stopped to look behind me, there was nobody there. The Santa guy in the plaid was nowhere. For years, I’ve tried to figure out what happened, but I have no answer.
PHYLLIS—I was 40 when I found out I had stage-four cancer. I was in the hospital after chemo because I got so sick. The doctors told me I probably wouldn’t live. That night in the hospital, I was sleeping pretty soundly when I saw this woman standing beside my bed. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not. Maybe I was, I don’t know. The woman told me not to be afraid, because I was going to keep living, and I was going to have four grandbabies. Today, I am 78 years old, and I have four grandchildren. I have never told this story to anyone before.
MATT—When I was a kid, nobody had cell phones or anything. So that makes this story almost eerie to me. I was with my cousin and we were building a treehouse in the woods near Winchester, Virginia, about a mile from my house. I fell off a tall branch and hit the ground, and I landed on a two-by-four with a nail that was protruding from it.
The nail punctured my lungs. But, lo and behold, my mother was standing right there, watching me fall. She never came into the woods. I couldn’t believe she was there. It was so unusual to see her there.
Mom took me into her arms and ran me a mile back home. My mom was a small woman, so it was pretty impressive to run a mile with an adolescent kid in her arms. She drove me to the hospital and when I finally came to, I asked why she was in the woods that day. She said almost an hour before I fell, a man came to her window and told her that her son was about to have an accident, and she had better check on him. This strange man led her into the woods, straight to us, and if it hadn’t been for that stranger, I might have died.
LAWREN—My family was rafting the Nantahala River. Just me, my husband, and my two sons. We stopped and let my boys out right before we went over the fall. When we went over, my husband was jettisoned from the raft and left me to paddle a six-man raft along. I was scared and didn’t know how to get to shore. Up ahead were class-four rapids where the U.S. Olympic kayaking team was training. I was freaking out when I heard a voice behind me say, “Paddle!” I turned around and there was a guy with long dark hair and beard in the raft with me. We paddled like fiends and got the raft to the bank. When I turned around to thank the man for his help, he was gone. When I told my boys the story, they said they didn’t see anyone in my raft. I still get chill bumps thinking about it.
CRYSTAL—My mother was in a car accident on a remote highway, here in North Carolina. Her car fell into the river and she almost drowned. She remembered ramming the guardrail, and she remembers going into the water. She remembers being stuck in her seat when the water was coming up to her chin. But she remembers nothing else after that.
Somehow, the paramedics found my mother lying next to a tree. There were footprints in the snow when they found her, as if someone had been there, but no sign of anyone. My mother kept babbling that her guardian angel had saved her. “My angel saved me,” she kept saying to us. I have no idea who saved her. I don’t even believe in angels. But, you know what, my mom does. And maybe that’s the lesson here.
ME—Don’t tell me they aren’t real.