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One Photo; One Story: Angels

I believe Angels exist. You can’t see them; they’re like wind or gravity. They are close by in another realm, near enough to access our world yet too far for our physical limitations.

When I was a young boy my mother told me about her Angel. One who saved her from drowning on Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

It was the summer after she graduated from Mt. Vernon School of Nursing. She and her classmates went to the beach. It was a day of celebration and joy at the journeys end, goals attained and dreams realized. My mother could not swim. As the day progressed with cajoling from her friends, my mom gathered the courage to wade knee deep into the Atlantic.

On this day the rip currents were strong.

Mom slipped and was pulled out by the current. She panicked and began to drown. Time stood still. From the depths of the ocean she felt an embrace that held her like a baby and a voice spoke directly to her heart, “It’s okay Mary, I’m here.” In that moment of sheer terror she relaxed as she was pulled from the water and stretched out on the beach.

Lifeguards and beach patrol tended to her as she recovered. She immediately looked for the woman who cradled her and calmed her fears. She was nowhere to be seen. She asked about the woman who saved her and the lifeguard told her that it was just he who helped her just a few feet from the beach. “How did you know my name?” She asked. He said he hadn’t known her name and that he just did what he was trained to do.

My mom always told me she had never forgotten the Angels voice and the peace she had brought to her that day. Years later my brother’s and I had swimming lessons at the Montclair, New Jersey YMCA. We were fearless in the water.

We loved our lessons.

At times I would see my mother with the swim instructors at the far end of the pool. She was wearing her white bathing cap and holding on to the side of the pool as she learned to float on her back. She never overcame her fear of the water.

She always believed in Angels.

Dad tells me every so often that on the day she left this life, she had a smile on her face.

Perhaps she met her Angel again and heard her voice. “It’s okay Mary. I’m Here.”

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