Nothing in my life happens by chance. In another lifetime, most would call a dark God sent me my first angel–red hair, playing Sinatra piano in a honkytonk bar talent night. She had never been there before and did not fit the stereotype. There was really no logical reason she was there. I however was a fixture—the bouncer, first stool from the door wearing a beer stained Stetson and snake skin boots that had seen too many concrete rodeos lasting ‘til dawn. This angel having some vision other than one looking through the bottom of a long neck bottle rescued me from further sinking, I suppose from death. This took time—a lot of time, but she never gave up–she never wavered. She saw only what mothers can see—the good inside. In a time of drunken blackouts, and a parade of faceless bar queens looking for a good time– she saw something worth saving. I suspect angels are given the will to wait–the patience to never give up. They have that gift. She told her friend that night she was going to marry me. Nothing in my life happens by chance.
In 1993, my mom died. One day I was talking to her on the phone–wanting to cut it short as she always asked too many damn questions– and the next day, the phone rings with the news. That must be why I hate phones and avoid answering them. Bad news travels by phone. When a parent passes, we never understand as children. I always figured she would be there when I needed her. Everyone has their own method of dealing with pain. I can block these things out and let the years roll by until the prose becomes poetry. Of course I was angry at the time. It was the “I should have said this, or should have done that.” I sometimes would cry alone and ask God why not one more day. I could have made it right, settled some things, or not been the one to end the conversation. I never was a good handler with death. I ignored it like the homeless who lived under the bridge in the city, thinking it would go away. If I didn’t turn down that street, I could pretend it didn’t exist. Nothing in my life happens by chance.
That same year my oldest daughter was 17 hours away at school. She couldn’t come home for the funeral and never got to say good-bye to mom. At semester, she did come home and the following fall my grandson was born. Complications ensued at birth. I remember the doctor telling us that she was toxic and they needed to take the baby early but she would be ok after giving birth. I really never worried. But, it didn’t go as planned. After he was born–I started to go home for a nap and the Social Worker said I needed to stay—my daughter wasn’t doing well. Next thing I knew–they were air lifting her out to a hospital five hours away. They told us when we started to leave for the five hour drive; she may not be there when we arrived. Metaphors should be left for poetry. They are too confusing in real life. I didn’t get it. Where the hell would she be? I guess they should have called on the phone with that news but nothing in my life happens by chance.
Later we were told that my Mom came to her room right before they wheeled her away for the flight–Mom was there beside her bed. My daughter told us she could see her and smell her Este Lauder perfume. She said she was dressed up as always complete with costume jewelry. Mom patted her hand and told her she would be alright right before the loaded her on the chopper. Obviously, angel number two.
Sometimes when the girls were little, we would come home from an outing or trip and smell cigarette smoke or the scent of mom’s perfume in their rooms. Nobody in our house smoked. So, today, I never ignore the homeless, my eyes never fall away. Instead, I give offer them a smile and poems. Because like the words inscribed on the gates of heaven or at least in a funky little book store in Paris: Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise. Nothing in my life happens by chance.