Friday, April 2, 2010

Peach Angel

Since Steve didn’t go with me to the MRI yesterday (I told him I would be fine on my own) he made sure he added some power steering fluid to the car before I left because it had been leaking a little. 

After the MRI was over,  I took my little traumatized self out the door and drove away from the clinic.  Here is my  “not-so-happy place.”

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As I pulled away from the MRI clinic, I noticed that the power steering was feeling a bit stiff and I had to work really hard to turn corners.  However, since I knew that Steve had already topped it off, I didn’t get too worried.

At least I didn’t get worried for another minute or two.  And then the steering just seemed to get worse and worse, until I could barely even manage to haul the car around a corner without great exertion and accompanying (ladylike) grunts.

Since I had to stop anyway to put in some gas, I thought I’d just call Steve at the same time to get mechanical instructions.  As I began pumping the gas, I happened to notice an African American gentleman outside the station—just standing there.  He didn’t seem to be in a hurry, didn’t seem like he had to be anywhere.  Just standing.

He stood out to me because of his easy, relaxed demeanor and also because he was wearing a beautiful suit with a peach silk shirt underneath. Peach is one of my favorite colors to wear and I remember thinking, “What a cool ensemble!”

But my “appreciating peach” moment passed quickly and I was soon back to the nitty gritty business of life, which was trying to figure out what to do about the car.

I wrestled the vehicle away from the pump, and pulled over to the opposite side of the station (completely out of view of the peach guy),  barely managing to steer around another car and get pulled into a parking space. 

I pulled out my cell phone and explained to Steve what was going on; he was quite surprised to hear about the problem since he had just filled up the power steering tank.  He said he hoped it wasn’t the steering wheel pump that had gone out, in which case adding fluid wouldn’t help.

So he started giving me directions about how to check the fluid.  Which was about as productive as teaching a duck-billed platypus how to do calculus.

But I tried.

I managed to open the trunk AND the hood (his car has all sorts of different “opening levers” I’m not familiar with) and I managed to find the power steering fluid and the little reservoir that it was supposed to go into.

After setting down the phone for a moment and wrestling with the lid I finally told Steve, “Okay, the lid is off. Now what?”

He said, “Can you see on the little dipstick that hangs down from the lid what the level of the fluid is?”

I peered at the dipstick suspiciously. Nope. I had no clue what he was talking about.  I couldn’t tell where any fluid level stopped or started; it just all looked the same to me.

He then gave me the cheerful news that there was an “optimal level” the fluid should be at, and adding fluid when it wasn’t needed was not going to help matters any.

He had me go back to the trunk, get a cloth and wipe the dipstick off.  Then he told me to put it all the way back in, tighten the lid, and then unscrew it and check it again.

By this time, my arm was aching from where the IV had been, my head was aching from tears and stress and all I could think about was that I was stuck 2 1/2 hours from home and we were going to have to call a wrecker and we couldn’t afford to call a wrecker and I was never going to get home and I. Was. So. Overwhelmed.

I took a deep, calming breath and tried to remove the cap once more so that I could attempt to get an accurate reading.  Well, it turns out that when I had put the cap back on, I had threaded it wrong and now it was on there crooked and was now impossible for someone of my non-strong ability to even budge.

I thought, “Great.  I can’t re-check the fluid level and now I can’t add any fluid and I can’t drive the car the way it is and I just don’t know what I’m going to do!”

About that time I heard a melodious voice next to me and I looked up to see the Man in Peach approaching the car.  How he ever saw me on the opposite side of the station with the hood facing away I’ll never know, but he did.

He said, “Hello, ma’am.  It looks like you might need some help.”

I resisted the urge to fling my arms around him in a most appreciative gesture of gratitude but instead I babbled, “Well, I have my husband on the phone and he said to take the lid off and check the fluid but I can’t get the lid off and so I can’t tell how much fluid I have and the car won’t steer right and I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

He approached the car with great confidence and all I could think was, “Listen, fella, you really don’t want to be working on a dirty engine wearing peach silk, do you?”

That fact didn’t seem to bother him.

With one easy motion, he got the lid off that I had been fighting with for five minutes.  He peered with a practiced eye down into the mysterious depths of the liquid and said, “Oh no, ma’am.  There’s not enough fluid in there.”  And then he took his fingers and splashed them around in the fluid in order to confirm his initial diagnosis.

All I could think of was, “Peach shirt!  Peach shirt! You’re going to get stuff all over your peach shirt!”

He was oblivious to my concern for his fashion well being and simply reached over, grabbed the power steering fluid and very confidently added the right amount before replacing the lid, closing the hood and closing the trunk.  He then suggested that I get in the car, back up a little bit and try to get up a little speed before turning the wheel.  He said that would be the best indication of how things were.

And so off I went. At first the steering still felt pretty stiff but then I felt it loosen up a little bit and figured I’d be okay to drive the car home.

When I pulled up near him to thank him for his help, he said an unusual thing. He put both hands together like he was praying, leaned forward slightly at the waist, fixed me with compassionate and wise eyes and said, “I have only prayers for you.”

As I drove off, I pondered our meeting. Out of all the people in the city of Greenville who could have been at that particular station, there was one there who seemed to be almost waiting for something to happen.  And when that something happened, he was right on the spot, with practical help and with a promise of prayer.

Although I’m not saying he was an Angel, I am saying that for me at least, he was someone God put there at the right time, someone who was there for me when I was tired and frustrated and overwhelmed.

And the fact that he was wearing peach?  It just made it all the better.

26 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Kilgore Kids said...

That's an awesome story. I definitely believe God places people in our path just when we need it. Your peach angel was certainly a blessing on a less than stellar day. Glad to hear you made it back home without incident.
Have a blessed Easter weekend with your family.

MaryH said...

God most certainly put that kind, peach wearing gentlemen with mechanical knowledge right smack dab where you needed him - his message of "only having prayers for you" could have been your Dad's words spoken through him. I'm just saying......those are the moments that make me believe more and more that our family who have left this Earth are really not that far away. When we need them, they are right there - in different forms, in different voices but there without a doubt. I hope and pray you all have a wonderful Easter. What a joyous, beautiful holiday.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story of how God helps us when we need Him the most. I love hearing stories like this. Praying for your well being. Have a blessed Easter. He is truly risen!
Anna

Jan Reynolds said...

Maybe he was an angel... do you know if anyone else even saw him ;)

That is a great story and like that gentlemen I have only prayers for you!

Anonymous said...

Becky,
I believe he was an angel, sent just for you. Just goes to show how close God is to us and He knows our every need. After all you've been through, God sent you confirmation that He is very close.
You are in my prayers.

Lesley said...

How cool is that?????

I never cease to be amazed. Even though I know.

Can I just ask...you had your MRI in a trailer? How can that be?

SuperSuz said...

I read a story once where one line in it read something like this, "the angels are really busy this time of year so sometimes God send regular people instead".

Your man-in-peach was definitely a God-send. And, like him, I have only prayers for you.

Happy Easter, Smith Family!

SuperSuz said...

Ugh...that was supposed to say "sendS regular people instead"!

Sharon said...

HE was your angel at the moment. and I beleive he was an angel sent to help you at just the right moment.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much I love this story.
~Kim in TN
W8k@aol.com

Jenna said...

I think he was angel that God sent to encourage you, especially given the hard times you are walking through!

Doesn't the Bible say something about "entertaining angels in disguise" or something like that?

Whether he really was an angel or was very, very kind human, I think that given what he said to encourage you was God- inspired. I think perhaps that God wants you to know that the Holy Spirit is encouraging you and praying for you, and really, really cares for you and your wellbeing.

I also want you to know that even though we have never met, and even though we literally live thousands of kilometers apart, you are one of the ""human angels" in my life. Your wit, kindness, empathy, and compassion daily encourage me as I face my own life and challenges.

May God richly bless you and keep you, Becky. As His face shines upon you, may you know- in the deepest recesses of your heart- His peace.

Sincerely,
Jenna (Edmonton, Canada).

Deb said...

Makes sense to me that God would send you an angel who was wearing one of your favorite colors! I loved your story.

Love, Deb

Chris Pitonyak said...

He seems like an angel to me.
What comfort to know that in the midst/mist of all, God sees all and make provisions.
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Anonymous said...

I love this story!
Jill-FL

Anonymous said...

most definitely an angel!!!
How blessed you are, Becky, to have had that encounter

mrs pam!!

Anonymous said...

I believe God places people/Angels right where they are needed. My husband fell 205 feet and a young African American that had not been there all day happened to be there right when he fell and was there to attend to him until the the Life Flight Team got there, I tried to find him to Thank him and he wasn't there anymore. We had been at this place all week and had not seen him. I truly believe he was an Angel. I am also happy to report my husband is doing great and it has been 8 yrs since the accident. I am praying for you during this trying time. God Bless you. Debbie

Pam D said...

I think that sometimes, it's easier to believe in angels than to accept the fact that, when we die to ourselves and allow Christ to live in us, we become instruments of God. Our eyes and ears become attuned to Him, and we truly are moved to where He needs us and can best use us. I think that this man truly hears God's voice on a daily basis; I imagine if you were able to sit and talk to him at length, this isn't an unusual occurance for him. God speaks to us all the time, but until we put aside the noise of the world, it's awfully hard to hear Him. Becky, I believe that God IS taking care of YOU, and He will continue to move His people in place to protect you on this journey....

Sue G said...

You wrote, "Although I’m not saying he was an Angel, I am saying that for me at least, he was someone God put there at the right time, someone who was there for me when I was tired and frustrated and overwhelmed."

So, exactly what IS an angel from God if not that???

Thanks, God, for taking Becky out of harm's way. Your grace is always sufficient.

Sue G said...

Oh wait, I just read Pam D's response and I like hers better than mine.

I say what she said. (Just pretend I did, okay?)

:-)

Anonymous said...

Becky, it's a great story. :-)

Not sure why all the comments seem to be saying that the person was an angel, tho. After all, there are good, decent, kind, helpful people all around us, every day.

Could I gently ask a question, tho? Why is race salient in this story? Just speaking as a family of color, I was struck by the need to tell us that he was African American. If he had been say, Caucasian, would you have told us that? Why not, just a man in peach?

Adria

Anonymous said...

How do you know that God put him there for you? Maybe God put you there for him. You'll never know what the Man in Peach might have gotten out of that interaction himself and how it may have influenced his own life.

Anonymous said...

Adria,
I agree with your comment about race, but I thought maybe it was a cultural thing.

I live in Canada, which places a huge emphasis (both in the courts and in schools)on multicultarism and on viewing all people as the same. Since about 1/6 Canadians are an ethniicity other than caucasion, these "differences" are so common that a persons' skin color is not really thought of as relevant, if that makes any sense.

When I read the description, I thought maybe it was a common part of southern US culture to include a person's ethnicity in a description. (In a writing course I took a few years ago, I was told that in Canadian books an author should never mention a character's ethnicity since that would contradict Canadain norms BUT if that same book were to be published in the US, that race descriptions should be included because Americans might consider race relevant.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous person responding to my (Adria) post, a few thoughts. I would venture that people of color in Canada don't think their race is irrelevent, or that a multicultural approach does away with differences. In my thinking, multiculturalism holds to a strong view of cultural strengths and differences. It honors the differences, rather than obliterating them.

You could be right about a difference in the U.S. South. Hadn't thought about that.

I get weary sometimes when Caucasians seem to feel it necessary to tell a story that mentions a person's race when it isn't integral to the story. In other words, if I tell a story of Ruby Bridges, her race would be salient. If I tell a story about Michelle Kwan's phenomenal iceskating abiltiies, it may not be. If I tell a story of Michelle's family's history, it would fit.

To tell a story of a man who was helpful, as Becky does here, the racial aspect doesn't seem integral to the story at all. If Becky were black and then said, another brother was there to help, that might be different.

I don't know.

I just know as a family of color, these things are important to me.

Adria

Bethany said...

God definitely sent you someone very special in your time of need, someone he sent for you alone with a specific purpose and message. His love is amazing and wonderful and perfect that way.
Before I was conceived my mother was sitting in a hospital ER waiting for someone to pick her up after a traffic accident and contemplating suicide with her prescriptions in hand. A nurse in full uniform wearing a name tag "Penny" sat down beside her and spoke to her about the child she had, the child she would have, and the purpose and meaning to her life. The next day when my mother called to thank her, she was told they had no nurse in the emergency department named Penny.
I must also add, that is a sketchy set up for an MRI and that must have only added to your stress!! My goodness!!

Anonymous said...

Adria, I can't speak for Becky, but when reading a story such as hers it helps me to visualize the story by such descriptions. It is the way we were taught to write in school here. Adjectives help describe the person. If her story were to become a movie, that would be an important part of casting the role.:) Jill

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