A day like every other was the day we met an angel. Walking hand in hand down the alley to our little house protected by 8 foot fences.
We came upon a man sitting by our gate.
He was a short, small old man about the age of 80. His clothes looked as if they hadn’t been washed in my moons. His long silvery grey beard reached down his chest with the tangled look as that of a wandering old dog.
He was covered with dirt, sand, and mud which told the story of how this man was living. On the streets. A homeless man with no belongings was a strange site to see since mostly all the others pushed carts or carried around trashed bags filled with everything they owned. Yet here he was without a thing sitting in the hot Californian sun. Sweat dripping down his brow as he looked to the ground when he saw us approaching. (squatting by someones gate is normally not the thing to do)
I said hello with a smile and quickly walked through our gate.
When we reached the house my son who was 4 said, ” mama, can I bring that man some water he looks thirsty.”
How could I deny my sons kind heart of wanting to help a stranger.
I didn’t feel threatened or scared so I said, “sure”.
I made a sandwich, gathered some fruit from the top of the counter and some bottled water.
Then I stopped and thought, he’s gonna get his sandwich full of sand and dirt because of how dirty his hands were. And honestly who wants to eat a sandy sandwich. No one.
So I got a bucket of water and a wash cloth with some soap. My children and I opened our gate.
My son gave him the cold bottled water. He reached out to take the water yet still leaving his eyes to the ground. I handed him the plate of food which he gently reached for shyly.
He was in the middle of talking off his socks and shoes. Which I think he felt ashamed for doing outside my gate. His feet held the stories of all the many miles he had traveled his life, worn, wrinkled, and dirty as could be.
I put the bucket of water beside him with the wash cloth folded over the rim and a small dry towel over the top.
I assured him he was welcomed where he choose to sit and asked if he needed help washing his feet since he was having trouble bending over. He looked embarrassed by my request. He spoke in a shaky soft voice telling me I had already done more for him then he could ever have imagined.
We allowed him to wash up in privacy.
Through the gap in gate I saw him wash his face first then hands and feet with the bucket of soapy water. He had placed the towel down on the ground to place his wet feet.
When he was done he disposed of the dirty water at arms reach over some dying plants that needed a drink also. Folded the wash cloth and gently put them back in place.
As he was finishing his lunch we walked back out to see if he needed or wanted anything more to eat or drink. This time when we opened the gate his head was looking up towards the sun. He had a presence of pure happiness in that moment. We were met with a smile and the brightest eyes that said “thank you”.
I had told him my son had wanted to give him some water since it was such a hot day. He looked at my son and with such gentle eyes said, “hello, I’m Thomas. You are a very brave and kind little boy. Thank you for the water”. My son looked so proud.
We exchanged some small talk which I cant recall much about. As we said our good byes and wished each other well we left him barefoot and smiling at the sun.
Just as I closed the gate I felt I couldn’t just let him leave without giving him something more. So I quickly turned around to let him know I would gather a few things he could use later.
I reopened the gate and….he was gone!
All that remained was empty bucket with the wash cloth folded on the rim and the folded towel placed on top.
He was just there a moment ago barefoot. How could he be gone, not even in eye site down the alley. He could barely move yet how could Thomas had managed to walk a football field length out of sight in less then 30 seconds. “What?!”
I was shocked and bewildered, “how could this old man have vanished”.
My son looked up at me with a cheeky grin, “Thomas was an angel.” He said in such a way as if he were saying, “Duh, mom”.
I felt as if we truly did see an angel. He had such a calming presence about him, unlike most people. He was so polite and inviting never asking for anything.
We never saw Thomas before or after that day, but I think of him often.
Why did he choose my gate to rest at when it was smack in the hot sun with no shade. Why us?
I guess an angel doesn’t need a reason to see if your going to lend a helping hand they just show up to see if you will.
So be kind to those you see and allow your kindness to be freely given. For this one day has brought many smiles to my face as well as my son who is now 19 and that alone is so worth so much more than I gave him, Thomas our shy angel.