Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
By John Esposito
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When I first saw Angelean she was standing on her front porch. It was right around sundown and the sky was an awesome fiery orange with pink slashes through it. She was wearing a faded denim dress with a white blouse that had lace around the collar and around the cuffs. Angelean lives at the top of a mountain in Central Appalachia, above an old coal town that mostly still looks the way it did in nineteen forty.
As I approached Angelean to greet her, her hair, white and gray which was down to her waist was blowing in the light evening breeze. She had this kind of ghostly, angelic aura about her, and there was this warm gentle calmness that was extended to me as I shook her hand. She also had the bluest eyes I had ever seen, the kind that would stop any man in his tracks. And I’m sure there was a time when those same eyes pierced a few hearts as well. Her eyes are tired, but they still sparkled like diamonds.
Angelean was now at the beautiful age of eighty one. She lived in these mountains all of her life, and has lived in this home since she was fourteen, right after she got married. She was born and raised in West Virginia and came from a family of twelve. Following her roots, Angelean became the mother of eight children and has out lived two of them.
Our paths crossed because I was there working on her home while on a summer mission trip. Angelean had five children still living in the area and they would all try to visit her at least once a week. Talking with one of her daughters, Angelean was described as the mother of all mothers. Even though they didn’t have much money, she was there with a popsicle on a hot day and there with a cup of coco on a cold day. She had one shoulder for you to cry on and the other to lean on. Through good times and bad times she was always the rose among the thorns.
The first time I stepped into Angelean’s living room I was amazed. There were so many photographs hanging there that I couldn’t tell what color the walls were. I remember asking her about them and she told that they were all photos of her children and grandchildren. She told that she has eighty one grand, great grand, and great great grandchildren. That’s one for every year she’s been alive. And if that doesn’t amaze you, she can name them all. And it gets even better. The day after I was leaving was going to be her eighty second birthday and yes you guessed it, her eighty second grandchild was on its way.
The beauty of all this is now that Angelean is retired from being a full time mother and sitting in the middle of her empty nest, that her retirement retreat has been her home the whole time. She has been loved, gave love and now all that love is being returned. If I make to eighty one I would love to be where Angelean is. On top of a mountain so I can look over my family. On top of a mountain so when my eye sight gets a little fuzzy I won’t have to squint any more to see God. On top of a mountain so when the batteries die in my hearing aid I can still hear the angels sing and listen as the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and chain to adorn your neck. – Proverbs 1:8-9 (NIV)
I can see the garland of grace and the chain of love that adorns Angelean’s neck. I can also see the garland and chains that adorn and wrap around the mountain that she lives on. Just like a giant Christmas tree and Angelean resting on top like the angel that she is. Not many people get to say that they have seen an angel. Not only did I get to see one, but I was blessed to be able to share a week with one. Angelean, my friend, my friend in Christ and now my retired angel. She has to be an angel, it’s in her name.
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