The little house in which I was privileged to be raised — the same one I wrote of recently — needed its annual deep cleaning.
It involves polishing furniture, mopping floors, scrubbing the outside doors, cleaning out the window sills and wiping down Mama’s cracked, ceramic canister set.
As I told you, I bought the house when Mama died and freshened it up with a new kitchen and floors. I also took out two walls that made an amazing difference, transforming it from cramped to airy and inviting. Since that time, I have used it as an office and, from to time, I have used it to bless others like it has blessed me.
The sky was darkening into evening when I arose from wiping out a layer of dust under a bookcase in the den. I walked into the living room, intending to pass through and head toward the bedrooms. But something stopped me. An invisible hand, it seemed. I looked toward the front door with its half circular window and there, like a ghost from yesterday, I could see Daddy. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was peering out that glass toward the yard.
Daddy always said a band of angels camped throughout the yard, keeping and protecting the house he had built with his own hands and the help of friends. The Bible said it, so that’s what Daddy believed.
For more than 50 years, no harm of any kind befell the house, which was never locked. When Mama died, the angels apparently took a well-deserved holiday because a significant theft preceded a broken water line causing substantial damage.
The insurance investigator had said, “If this wasn’t a brick house so well built, we would just total loss it.”
Aunt Ozelle, who could always answer any question Daddy had about a puzzling scripture, believed in those angels, too.
“Aren’t you afraid at night, being here by yourself?” I asked her after Uncle Tom died.
She pursed her lips and shook her head, looking out the window to her front yard, shaded by an enormous magnolia tree.
“The Bible says the angels of the Lord encampeth around them that fear God,” she said.
“That’s exactly what Ralph Satterfield always said,” I said.
He said this, too: That the Lord had promised him before he died that God would lift the veil and allow Daddy to see that army of angels scattered enforce around the house.
He clung firmly to that until the day he died.
Every night, Daddy watched the late news followed by Ted Koppel. Around midnight, he headed to bed where Mama was already sleeping soundly. Every night, he walked to the front door and looked out to the yard to see if that was the night the Lord would reveal the angels who camped around.
Daddy was always confident in his faith and whatever he said the Lord had told him. The years of his life dribbled down to not much left at all and still Daddy had not seen those angels. Then, the angel of death was sent for this devoted servant of God. In his bed, the same one they had shared since the marriage began, Daddy lay dying, not alert or awake. We gathered around to pray and cry.
My nephew, Rod, through his tears, leaned close and whispered.
“Pawpaw, you always said that God would show you those angels and now they’ve come,” he said. “Just look for them. They’re here.”
His faded green eyes opened. He stretched an aged hand toward heaven, a smile crossed his face and his eyes teared. We knew he had finally seen those angels so long promised.
To his dying day, he believed. And God did not forget nor forsake. Those angels came just in the nick of time.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/ronda.