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What an Angel! Barrie's Blog | Barrie Mahoney

'Writing Inspired by an Island in the Atlantic'

What an Angel!

“Oh, she’s an angel”, or “Thank you, you’re an angel” are some of the comments that I sometimes hear, often following an act of kindness or generosity. Maybe such comments are more common in the older generation nowadays, but I am used to hearing them. It is always a comment that startles me for a moment, and I wonder.

Yes, I do believe in angels, but not the winged being, bathed in celestial light and sporting a rather fabulous halo type; these may exist, but I haven’t seen one. Admittedly my understanding of them has grown and developed over the years with the experiences of life. To put it simply, I believe that angels are the physical embodiment of the Spirit that guides, supports, encourages, and challenges us in our daily lives. The Spirit may manifest itself through people, or indeed animals that we are close to, such as our dog or cat.

My mother believed in angels too. Her faith was no nonsense, black and white, as was her career in nursing. She was no pushover and could spot an untruth before I even opened my mouth. As I was growing up, she often referred to angels that surround us in our everyday lives, yet only rarely referred to the ‘incident’ that she had experienced many years earlier. I remember that my equally no-nonsense father discouraged her from speaking about it, since he thought it made my mother sound foolish. Later in her life, I questioned her several times about what she had seen, and the answer was always the same with a crystal-clear memory. “They are all around us”, she would say, “Just keep an open mind and you will see”.

As I progress through life, I have experienced support that I cannot always explain. I have met people who briefly enter my life with words of wisdom, suggestions, encouragement, and support, and often using words that don’t appear to be their own. Sometimes, it is someone that I know that is offering support, but often it is a stranger who enters my life briefly and I never see again.

We have recently lost our much-loved dog, Oscar, a corgi. He came into our lives as an unwanted stray and from the moment that we met, he and I bonded closely. Oscar always seemed to sense when the bad news came, when I was ill, when the chemotherapy was getting too much. Later, as I lost my peripheral vision, he began to carefully guide me up and down the steps that lead to our outside patio. Before we had handrails fitted, Oscar would wait at each step for me before guiding me to the next and wait by my side before repeating the process going down the steps. His long white tail would stick in the air as a guide, and he watched me closely as I negotiated each step. He behaved like a guide dog, but he never had training. Loss is painful, but I do know that I had an angel by my side when it was most needed; the angel was called Oscar.

Although angels are often popular in films, books and songs, they are rarely taken seriously in ‘real life’. I sometimes watch popular films that includes an angel, who is usually someone that you would least expect to represent ‘the heavenly host’. I often find it hard to dismiss these as fiction, since I suspect there is some truth behind the representation. I believe that angels are with us, supporting and helping us every day of our lives. The question is whether “You are an angel” comment refers to someone who is particularly kind or has done a good deed, or is really an angel? My guess is, it doesn’t really matter.

© Barrie Mahoney 2024

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