Outfield

Call me Marge. I would like to share this story with others.

Many of us are aware that Angels walk beside us at all times. Some of us have even seen them, others have heard their whisperings. A friend of mine once told me that an Angel sat beside her in her car as she drove to work one morning. I often wonder what I would do should I find an Angel sitting beside me as I drove. I do however share my guardian Angels with others, but only for a time, when that person finds herself in a dilemma or asks for a little extra help.

During the course of my work as a registered nurse, I have worked alongside many wonderful and dedicated nurses. Some who go the extra mile to ensure their patient's well being and interact in a special way with their colleagues. However among all the nurses I have been fortunate to know, Shirley Blanton has remained a precious memory. She had that extra something that made you feel happy whenever she was around. I know other nurses who said the same thing about her. She always wore a smile but no one knew the sadness that filled her heart as she went about caring for her patients and helping others.

Her eight year old son Jimmy commuted to school daily, like many other children, on the school bus. His brother Paul who was twelve at the time is Autistic and therefore had to make regular visits to his doctor and to his therapist. He attended a special school. Paul's doctor's visits often coincided with Jimmy's soccer practice and worse yet, with his soccer tournaments. Jimmy was often disappointed whenever his mother could not attend these tournaments. On those occasions, he missed seeing her face among the spectators and sincerely wished that she could at least make it to some of the tournaments.

The parents of Jimmy's friends were usually present and so he often felt like the odd one out whenever his mother could not attend. On the other hand, Shirley was very sad that she could not be there for Jimmy as often as she would have liked, but then she was the sole bread-winner of the family and also had an autistic child who could not be left unattended. Jimmy loved his brother dearly but at times he felt jealous of him because of the attention he got from their mother.

Jimmy's mother and I worked together at a hospital in Washington DC , as Registered nurses. Each time I met Shirley she looked tired and overworked. Yet, she was a warm and friendly person and was always ready to lend a helping hand wherever it was needed. Every one at the Hospital who knew,loved her. One day she approached me and said that she needed some advice. Now I am very wary of giving advice to others for fear of misguiding them. However, I listened to her as she began to summarize her life. Shirley explained that she had been a widow for three years and was taking care of her two sons, Paul and Jimmy. She told me of Paul's autism which had been discovered when he was five years old. She said on some days he would be calm and therefore manageable but there were days when even she found it difficult to manage him, especially since he was growing up.

At the time she did have someone to take care of him while she worked but at other times she managed him alone. She then spoke at length about her younger son Jimmy and what he was going through because of his brother's condition. She said her real purpose for speaking to me was because Jimmy wanted her to attend a soccer tournament at his school. They would be playing against a team from another school. At the same time she needed to take Paul to his doctor's appointment. She admitted to being in a dilemma. She had told Jimmy that she wished with all her heart that she could be there for him but that she had no one to take Paul to the doctor. Shirley said that she was saddened by the look of disappointment on Jimmy's face on hearing that she would not be able to attend.

Shirley then looked to me for advice. I thought about her predicament for a while and could find no suitable solution to her problem. I felt sorry for Jimmy, but I could understand Paul's need. Finally, I offered the only solution which I use whenever I find myself in a similar situation. "Shirley, this might sound far fetched to you but I suggest you send one of your guardian Angels as your representative with Jimmy to his soccer match. Let him know how much you love him and how sad you are about not being able to be there with him." For an instant Shirley stared at me as though she thought I had completely lost my mind, but I guess after a moment she realized that I was serious and listened more intently. I then proceeded to explain that every one has three or four guardian Angels around them at all times and that I was sure that she could spare one to accompany Jimmy to his soccer tournament. However I advised her against sending all four of her Angels as she also needed their protection too.

Two weeks later I ran into Shirley, she was very excited to see me. She said that she had been looking for me and had even asked a few other nurses if they had seen me lately. Actually our shifts had not coincided with each other's for a while but on that day she wanted desperately to talk. So we found a quiet spot to sit and chat .I was afraid that perhaps something had happened to one of her sons but it was not the case. Shirley was smiling and she actually looked happy. She then informed me that she had sent one of her guardian angels with Jimmy to his soccer match and that later that evening when he returned home from school, he was beaming and proudly held up a trophy for her to see. He went on to tell her with great pride, that he had won it for the team. At that point, Shirley went on to explain to me that although Jimmy loved soccer he could never score a goal because he either missed the ball when he tried to kick it or he simply fell over in the attempt.

"In fact," she added, "Jimmy always seemed to be picking himself up off the ground during a soccer match." Apparently the coach kept him on the team only because he saw what a great love Jimmy had for game. Shirley could not believe that Jimmy had done so well especially as Tom the soccer star at that school was the only player who ever brought the team to victory. Yet that afternoon he absolutely refused to play. Both the coach and his parents were understandably upset with him but he simply would not play. Instead, he sat on the bleachers and watched the game.

Nobody could understand Tom's reluctance to play that day, so miraculously; it was Jimmy who brought the team to victory that afternoon. The other players and the coach said they could not explain Jimmy's amazing performance that day nor Tom's refusal to play. Needless to say, when Jimmy returned home that evening and described his amazing performance at the game, Paul was so excited for his brother that he was totally out of control. He hugged Jimmy tightly and danced awkwardly around the room with him.

When I last spoke with her, Shirley seemed to be doing very well. She gets help with Paul from a group which works with special children. Jimmy is now in high school and continues playing soccer and is doing pretty well from what I hear. I firmly believe that Shirley's guardian Angel is still at Jimmy's side.