This is not my story. It was told to me. In fact, I’m hearing it for the first time, just like you are.

The year was 1982. The old man climbed out of a rust-red Ford. He was ancient. He walked with a shuffle as he hobbled into the supermarket. Struggling to walk. Fighting to breathe.

A young man in the parking lot saw him get out of the rust-red Ford. He rushed ahead to help. The kid was wearing a black sports coat. Black tie. Hair slicked back. Lots of cheap cologne.

“Thank you,” the old man said. “Would you be kind enough to get me a buggy?”

The kid pulled a cart from the stockyard of buggies. The old man hooked his cane over the handle and tried to catch his breath.

“What are you so dressed up for?” the old man asked.

“I’m going to a funeral.”

“I’m sorry,” said the man. “Family or friend?”

“Neither. It was my dad.”

The old man nodded, but said nothing. He pushed his buggy into the store. Past the pneumatic doors. The store was filled with the paralyzingly lush sound of muzak. Death by violins.

The kid was following him closely because he was a good kid, and the old man was wheezing badly. He looked like he was about to fall over. Pale and gaunt. Shaky and frail.

“I’ll help you shop,” said the kid. “I’ve got some time before the funeral starts.”

“Thank you,” said the old man, whose face lit up like Christmas.

They puttered through the A&P together. Two strangers. When they reached the Campbell’s soup aisle the old man asked a question.

“You weren’t close with your father?”

“No. He left my mom when I was little. He didn’t want anything to do with me. I didn’t even like him.”

The old man nodded.

“Did you stay in touch?” he asked.

“Not really. I called him sometimes, but he never had much time for me. He had lots of problems. I was just one more.”

“I’ll bet that hurt you.”

The kid shrugged. “I guess.”

And that’s when the air got weird. Everything became weird. The old man lowered his gaze at the kid. The old voice was suddenly very strong and rich. A deep baritone. And he did not sound like an oldster anymore.

“Your father loves you,” said the man.

The kid looked around. He was wondering where the Allen Funt and the hidden cameras were. But the old man was still looking at him with those tap-water blue eyes.

“Your father is sorry he hurt you,” said the old man. “And he loves you very much. And he wants to know if you will forgive him.”

The old man was speaking present tense. Not past tense.

The kid was sufficiently weirded out now. They didn’t speak to each other much after that. Shopping was pretty awkward. The old man just pointed and the kid fetched his items. But nobody spoke.

When they got to the checkout aisle, the kid left the old man briefly to use the restroom. He jogged into the john and was gone for maybe three minutes. When he returned, the old man was gone.

The kid asked the lone cashier if she had already rang up the old man.

“What old man?” she answered. “There hasn’t been anybody in this store but you.”

So the young man trotted out of the building. He wandered into the vacant parking lot. There was no rust-red Ford. In fact, there weren’t many cars in the parking lot at all.

The kid drove to the funeral that evening. He found his father lying in a pinewood box. He wept all over his old man. He whispered things into his father’s ear. Healing things. Things he had been waiting a long time to say.

And 40 years later, when the kid told this story to me, he did so with red rings around his eyes. He is no longer a kid anymore, but a father of three.

I asked the kid whether he thought the old man in the grocery store was an angel.

“No,” the kid said. “I don’t think he was. I know he was.”


  1. Ed Caldwell (Bear) - September 7, 2022 8:42 am

    Thanks for this angel story. It gives me hope.

    My parents passed a number of years ago. They loved me. My whole family loved me. I was ashamed of them. I thought that I could do better without them. I thought leaving them would help fix my brain. I was wrong. I’m still messed up. And I’m older now than lots of people live.

    I have felt an angel’s hand on my brain soothing me more than once.

    I believe you are guided by angels too.

  2. Debbie - September 7, 2022 10:22 am

    Hebrews 1:14 KJV:

    Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation?

  3. Jane Miller - September 7, 2022 10:39 am

    I am reading this with red rings around my eyes. My earthly father was the same as this young man’s. He recently died of Parkinson’s Disease at 80+ years old. He married for the third time and found a family to love. Thank goodness as they took care of him in his sickness. We are thankful that they loved him, too. We would have liked to be with him at the end as we requested, but, at least wife #3 and her family all “got their time alone at the bedside with him before he passed”. No healing was to occur of our splintered relationships with him as we had always prayed for, but, he is no longer in pain. Some of my 60+ year old siblings will never heal from the damage done, unless God sends an angel like in Sean’s story.

  4. Vincent Boles - September 7, 2022 10:40 am

    Thank you Sean… BTW who f do he’s your illustrations?

    • Ed Caldwell (Bear) - September 7, 2022 11:14 am

      As far as I can tell Sean mostly does his own illustrations. Today’s bear’s his signature.

  5. Steve McCaleb - September 7, 2022 11:27 am

    It’s NEVER too late to try to put things right. NEVER.

  6. babs - September 7, 2022 11:45 am

    so many tears. if only we all had the chance to make amends… God grant us the time and the sign to see the openings you give us…

  7. Fran - September 7, 2022 12:11 pm

    Loved this one, please do more like it.

  8. Sonya Tuttle - September 7, 2022 1:34 pm


  9. David Britnell - September 7, 2022 1:45 pm

    Wow! Don’t ever go to the bathroom when you’re helping an old man shop! LOL. I absolutely loved this story! A healing of relationships was able to take place.

  10. Leigh Amiot - September 7, 2022 2:58 pm

    Sean, I love that you are not afraid to touch the broken places.

    Sometimes the work of forgiveness has to be done after a person is gone, nonetheless, it must be done. The most helpful thing I’ve read about forgiveness is that it is a decision, not a feeling, and the decision may need to be made repeatedly. Also, praying for the person who has mistreated us softens our heart toward them. Forgiving never means submitting to abuse, it means releasing that person to God for Him to deal with rather than letting unforgiveness eat away at us.

    And I absolutely believe in angels doing the Lord’s work surreptitiously among us.

  11. sjhl7 - September 7, 2022 3:04 pm

    Such a beautiful story full of meaning and truth! Thank you for sharing Sean whether it was your story or not! Our Father works in mysterious ways …

  12. Peggy M. Windham - September 7, 2022 3:07 pm


  13. Linda Moon - September 7, 2022 3:48 pm

    Hey, kid, I’m glad you saw your father there in the grocery store. My eyes have some red rings now. And hey, Daddy… I miss you so. Us kids know and forgive and love our daddies, don’t we. And, Sean…keep writing and telling the stories.

  14. Nancy Ruegg - September 7, 2022 6:28 pm

    A memorable story, Sean, and so well told! That boy’s mama must have been so proud of her son, kindly helping someone else when he himself had suffered much. How fitting that an angel came to minister to him at this most difficult time.

  15. Bill E, - September 7, 2022 6:53 pm

    Nice story.

  16. Vernon Souders - September 7, 2022 7:15 pm

    You words are always welcome, Sean Dietrich, but I sure wish Ed Caldwell would go away. I’ll just bet you did not give him permission to speak for you.

  17. Dee Thompson - September 7, 2022 7:40 pm

    I totally believe in angels. My mother told me when she was a young mother, very stressed out, always worried, she got a book out of the library and read it in one day, and the message really spoke to her. I don’t recall the details but it had something to do with St. Luke. She returned the book, but decided a week later to ask the librarian for the book’s exact title and author so she could go to a bookstore and buy it. The librarian searched and searched but there was no such book in the library and no record of it ever being published. Mom took that as a sign.

  18. MAM - September 7, 2022 7:56 pm

    Vernon Sanders, maybe you need to give forgiveness to Ed or to reread what he said. I saw nothing amiss in his message. I’ve believed for years that Sean IS guided by angels, and they come directly from God. So now you can yell at me, too.

  19. Patricia Gibson - September 7, 2022 8:48 pm

    He definitely was🙏An angel!

  20. Margaret Jackson - September 8, 2022 11:09 am

    This story made me cry. Angels are everywhere, but this was special!!

    I actually left a similar message on this story on facebook, but a creepy guy left me a long rambling message & asked me to invite him to send him a friend request. I immediately deleted it!!! And my message to you.

    Sadly, creeps are everywhere.

    I love your writing, and your insight into people’s lives. It’s amazing how much you caan see in everyday life.

    Keep writing!


  21. Matt Ovaska - September 8, 2022 5:57 pm

    I have picked up 2 angels and given them a ride. Long story. My son fell out of bed. THUD. I went in to his bedroom and he was in bed. What happened? An angel picked me up and put me back in bed.. My friend said he crashed his plane on a mountain near Saranac Lake, NY. The Civil Air patrol saw a man on the wing of the little single engine plane waving a red handkerchief. He was rescued from his pilot seat. He had a broken face, ribs, and a broken femur. He asked me ,”Who was that on the wing?” An angel of course. His wife heard me and smiled. He said he didn’t know.

  22. K. D. K. Jones - September 8, 2022 9:53 pm

    “Angels unawares.” This story is an illustration of how they appear in our lives. Thank you, Sean, for sharing. – DiAn

  23. Patricia Jones - September 10, 2022 12:59 am

    Made me have chills. So touching.


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