The Daughter and Her Angel

The daughter will be twenty-seven in December, but the story of her angel took place when she was six. On her birthday, as a matter of fact. The angel’s name was Galen. Bear with me. I’ll get there.

It was 1985, and the daughter was in kindergarten. It was a hard year for her physically, although nobody ever figured out why. She started getting sick on Halloween of that year. In fact, her daddy spent Halloween night in the hospital with her because she was sick to her stomach and her white count was high. They told us that if things didn’t change, her appendix was coming out in the morning.

But things did change and in the morning, with no explanation, her white count was down. So they sent her home.

She was sick pretty much the whole month of November, though. No fever. She would just keep telling me that she felt dizzy. And it all came to a head on Thanksgiving.

My parents had come out for dinner. Before dinner, the daughter went outside to play with her brother in the newly fallen snow. Pretty nice picture for Thanksgiving, right? But when she came in, the daighter went to lay on the floor of her room. She felt hot, she said. Still no fever. But then she started getting sick to her stomach, and she couldn’t stop. We left Thanksgiving dinner on the table and took her to the hospital.

If you can avoid it, NEVER go to an emergency room on a holiday. I know…you don’t plan those things. But our experience in the emergency room included most of what you have seen go wrong in TV ERs, including the neglect. We watched the daughter get sicker and sicker. We told the nurses. They gave us a pan. Then we thought she was throwing up blood. The husband went in search of the nurses again. They gave us another pan.

Finally, about six hours after we came in, we saw a doctor. Who said that yes, the daughter had been throwing up blood. And bile from her liver. And why hadn’t we told them? (Which really made us mad!) I don’t mean to gross you out, but to give you an idea of how sick she was. And still no fever.

The daughter was admitted to the hospital at a little before midnight on Thanksgiving. Her condition was listed as serious. Nobody had any idea what was wrong with her. All I knew was that she was too weak to even pull the call cord or turn on the little TV by her bed. I was SCARED.

This went on for almost two weeks. The doctors did test after test. The daughter threw up everything they put in her. The pediatric specialist who evaluated her felt her belly and told me he could feel the bones in her spine.

The situation was made harder because the hubby worked out of town. That is just the way the railroad is, but that was in pre-cell-phone days, when you had to depend on the railroad office to find your husband if you needed him, and the people working in the office were less than nice about finding them. They had better things to do. To be fair, I suppose some wives did bug the office about finding their husbands for every little thing, but I wasn’t one of them. For one important test, he called the hospital SIX HOURS after I had placed the call to ask him what I should do. He had just received the message. I had already consented to the test. Like I said, the child was really sick. And the doctors couldn’t find out why.

They never did. People prayed, though, and a little more than two weeks after she had been admitted, on her sixth birthday, the daughter was discharged from the hospital. I went to pick her up. She was stick thin and pale, but for two weeks I hadn’t been sure she was coming home, so I was happy. We had to get her brother from the sitter, too. Her dad was still working out of town.

I asked the daughter what she wanted for her birthday dinner, and she wanted spaghetti. (She’s still a pasta fan.) She and I stopped in our town’s little grocery store to get it, and when we came out, the car wouldn’t start.

It was December. We lived in a little town forty minutes from the nearest city, and we didn’t have a AAA membership because at that time AAA simply wouldn’ t come. Like I said, my husband worked out of town. So I called Galen.

My husband knew Galen from his having done work on railroad vehicles. When Galen opened his own auto shop, our cars went there. Galen was just a nice guy. He was fair. He was honest. And his work ethic was about the same as my husband’s.

Still, it was above and beyond the call of duty for him to come to the grocery store and rescue us. And I knew that. But I also knew I needed to get that weak little girl home, and I didn’t know who else to call.

And you know what? He came. Right away. The problem was the car battery. He jumped the car and told me not to shut it off when I went to get my son. Then he went back in the store and bought the daughter a cookie for her birthday from the bakery.

I would bet that Galen didn’t even think he did anything special, but I sure did. And so did the daughter.

That wasn’t the only time that Galen did nice things for us. Our kids looked forward to the cars needing service so they could talk to him. He told our son to be careful when he started driving. At a time when the son could not have heard his own father, he heard Galen tell him that the car that passed him recklessly in our town would be only one or two ahead of him at the light in the next town. The risk just wasn’t worth it.

Galen cared. And twenty-one years later, the daughter still remembers his caring fondly. Her favorite song in kindergarten was “Angels Watching Over Me,” sung by Amy Grant. I believe that angels watched over the daughter in the hospital, that God watched over her and allowed us to bring her home. I cannot even tell you what a present it was that she could come home, six years after her dad and I welcomed her into the world. And I believe that when we couldn’t quite make it all the way home, God placed Galen in the right place to help us get there. So, on that day at least, I believe Galen was the daughter’s angel.

She believes that, too.

From the lyrics of “Angels Watching over Me” by Gary Chapman, Amy Grant, and Michael W. Smith

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.
But I know they’re all around me all day and through the night.
When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight
To keep my fight from falling, I’ll never turn away.
If you’re asking what’s protecting me then you’re gonna hear me say:

Got His angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angels watching over me!
Angels watching over me, every step I take,
Angels watching over me….

Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home


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October 2006
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