My Angel?


Dr. Willard believes in Angels.

I don’t know what to think. I don’t know that I have ever encountered one. I have heard people testify that they have. Of course the Bible has numerous examples of what he calls “supernatural messengers or angels.”

I am going to tell you of the closest instance of an angelic experience I have ever had.

My younger brother preceded me in death.

Mike was three years younger than me and his life was, to put it mildly, turbulent. He was a man of action, a practical guy who worked many jobs in his 30 years, from construction to emergency medical technician. In fact, he was an EMT when he passed away. I remember the day he died so well because that is when my mother thought he returned to us in an angelic experience.

He died in a scuba diving accident. He was trying to unstop a drain in a farm pond in Crittenden County, Kentucky. Everything was going well but when he went down to do his work, the bubbles from his tank quit coming to the surface. The pond was muddy, not like the scuba footage you see on television in some clear ocean water. The pond was deep and Mike was down there in the murky water and he was drowning.

His fellow scuba diver buddy tried to find him but could not. I was not there at the pond but I recall someone telling me about Dad. They called him to the site and Dad waded out in the pond trying to find the body of his son. What was Dad thinking? At that moment what was he feeling? He was desperate in his attempts to retrieve Mike’s body.

Eventually they found him.

Mike had several health problems in his life and one of them was epilepsy. Someone hypothesized that he could have had a seizure when he was under the water. He was an experienced diver.

When I arrived at my Mom and Dad’s house I found a crushed set of parents at the door. Of course, Mom was devastated but the worse thing, Dad was too. He was hysterical in his moans and wails. I went immediately into a state of shock. I had never seen my parents like this before. Dad’s grief shocked me the most.

He was broken.

Here was a six foot three inch farmer, school-teacher, basketball coach who did not want to continue on with his life. Here was a man who could do anything, fix anything, a man who led his family by his strong example.


What could I do to fix this.

That was my mission. I had to fix this and get these people past this somehow.

That was stupid. They needed to grieve and they did in their own way. I was the one who did not allow myself to grieve. I pushed that all away somewhere so I could put on a brave face and help them get past this event.

This post is not about grieving.

This post is not about Dad or Mom.

This post is certainly not about me.

It is about Mike.

The first night after Mike’s death, we all gathered on the back deck of the house. It was dark. We talked a little about Mike and shared stories. Dad was not a man of many words but Mom was able to share and of course, I am well known as a fellow who has a lot of words to express myself [sometimes to my detriment].

There were some periods of quiet as we looked out at the dark sky and the bright stars. Marion is not a large town and Mom and Dad’s house is not close to neighboring homes and there are never that many cars going by the side streets of Marion. We were alone on the deck, with the sky, some wooded area and our grief.

Suddenly, we heard the haunting, far-away hoot of an owl.

If you have ever truly listened to an owl, the sound is quite distinctive. It does sound like a hoot, several short bursts of hoot, hoot, hoot.   Then some silence and then several short burst of hoot, hoot, hoot. This went on for several minutes and then Mom said “You all listen carefully, that is Mike telling us he is ok.”

I did not know what to make of this. Was Mom being erratic in her behavior due to the hard day she had? Was Mom just imagining something that was not real? Was Mom experiencing a supernatural messenger in the form of the owl?

Who am I to judge?

It was Mike.

There I said it.   Over the years I have grown to accept her experience. At the moment when I was in my Mr. Fix-it mode, I probably did not accept it but I do now.

To this day, when I hear an owl at my house, it is Mike telling me he is ok.

Thank you Mom. Thank you God.

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