Christmas Angels Alight

Friday, December 7, 2001
Windy and Sunny Suburbia


Our Christmas tree is up at the office, and the air is redolent with pine scents, thanks to DH who chose and delivered a fresh and regal 7-foot Noble pine to the office and Doni who artfully gussied it up, dressing it up to the nines.  

Thank you, DH and Doni. I forgot my camera at home. <snapping my fingers...shucks!> 

I'll be sure to take a picture of it to dress up these pages, so I will resist describing it here.  In the meantime, think:  purple and gold...

Year 'round, angels alight at our office, and I am blessed by their presence in my life and the opportunity to make their life's flight easier by servicing them. This time of year, the Christmas angels alight at our office, and I thought I'd share three of them with you.

Writing about them will also help me remember them in Christmases to come. I would never want to forget any of them...

As soon as the front door was open, Mickey Descents breezed in as Mother Christmas, handing out candy canes.  She was a picture to behold, dressed top to bottom in Christmas: drummer boy earrings, Christmas sweater emblazoned with snowmen, a jingly Christmas charm bracelet, Christmas digital watch, Christmas rings, Christmas holly and rhinestones manicured on to her red fingernails (!), and much more, I'm sure, that I failed to take in its entirety in the hour we were together.  

She doesn't just "do" Christmas, Mickey LIVES Christmas.  Last week, we received her Christmas card in the mail.  I cherish every card I receive, but Mickey's is unique in every sense of that word.  It is one-of-a-kind.  An original. She painstakingly and personally makes them for only her closest kith and kin. It touches me deeply to receive it every year and to be considered her kith. I have kept every one of her masterpieces.

Background: At our first meeting, years ago, I learned that I shared the same name, an uncommon one, with her daughter, D. Through the years we've known each other, Mickey has suffered and weathered through gigantic losses.  First, her daughter D succumbed to leukemia, after a prolonged, valiant battle, followed by her husband, her dearest, Jerry.  Recently, her fireman son was disabled in the line of duty. 

Yet, here she was today, without a slightest hint of the weight of her suffering and pain, full of Christmas cheer, spreading it generously to all about her.  Her bright smile is unfaded, perhaps even brighter!

Mickey is Christmas spirit, personified, and I am honored to be in her life.

I placed Mickey's Christmas card at the reception desk, so she could see that we -- and everyone else who came -- to our office will enjoy it. It pleased me greatly to see her smile; she was pleased to see it so prominently displayed.

Thank you, Angel Mickey, for your gift of endurance.  You show us how it is possible to rise above hurts and sadnesses and to keep fueling the happiness in your heart, as well as ours. 

It was a jam-packed morning.  The "war" has not affected our office at all, and in fact, we are busier than ever.  And so, Shirley Vert's arrival in the afternoon was a welcome respite.  

Background:  Shirley is originally from my homeland, from Kahalu`u on O`ahu, and we share a parallel island-country upbringing.  Like DH and I, she and her husband are expatriates, 2000 miles away from home. 

Two weeks ago, she told me that she sprung a surprise on her mom, when she accompanied her husband, who was flying home for business. 

This was the trip she had talked about taking for years, but never did.  For Shirley, this trip had nothing to do with business, but all to do with the heart. 

From the airport, she drove out to see her mother, now living in a senior residence in Honolulu. She buzzed her mom on the intercom.  Her mom doesn't get out much, so Shirley wasn't worried that she might miss her. Sure enough, her mom responded to the buzz.

Into the intercom speaker, Shirley said, "Hi, this is Shirley." 

"Shirley who?"  asked her mom.

"Shirley, your daughter, I'm taking you out to lunch," answered Shirley.  

That's my friend, Shirley. What a love of a daughter!  Her impromptu visit is yet another silver lining to September 11, a date that will help us remember to keep our priorities straight and take care of heart business.

She is also a love of a friend.  Today, with her bagful of treats, Shirley was also my Santa Claus

Out of her bag, she pulled out two loaves of banana bread, one for DH and me and another for the office, made extra delicious and moist with a bit of sour dough starter that she's cultivated for years; a bag of white and pink fresh guavas from her backyard trees; a bottle of homemade guava jam; and a crafted tiare (Tahitian gardenia)  blossom for my hair.  

One day, when I am retired, I am going to be Shirley's student. We're about the same age, but she knows how to do the "real" way of doing things -- from scratch.  

I have a lot to learn.

Thank you, Angel Shirley, for your gift, your huge generosity of spirit, Aloha Spirit, that is. Like us, you have had that spirit misinterpreted, here on the Mainland. Yet, your Aloha Spirit is alive, well, and bigger than ever. You inspire us to keep nurturing our Aloha Spirit, undeterred by those with hard hearts or grasping natures, who may mistreat or take advantage of us. 

David II is a young man I've know since he was a boy. Now he is this head-turningly tall, dark and handsome young man.

Background:  David II 's father was killed when he was little.  His mother is about the strongest, unvanquishable woman that I (or you) will ever meet.  In Hawaiian, we'd say, "She's ikaika."  Ikaika is a word I reserve for only a few.

Being a mother of two young children, Afro-American, and the sole support of self and  family has overwhelmed and defeated many, but not David II's mother. 

Her love for her children is huge, and she has dug in her heels for their sakes. Unwilling to give in and get on public assistance, she instead works in a tough work environment that would fully callous most. 

But not David II's Mom, Aline.  

When it comes to her kids, her heart is as soft as putty.  When she speaks about her children, she literally beams with pride and joy.

I have a eye for good souls, and over the years of caring for David II,  I have sensed not only a good soul, but one destined for greatness.  I first perceived the potential for greatness when he was in high school.  I won't even try to put it in words.  Suffice it to say, I clearly perceived that elusive, intangible quality in him.

He was a track star, a BMOC (big man on campus) at his high school, but not full of himself at all as some are wont to be.  His physical attractiveness is right there on the surface for all to see, but what I responded to came from within, the attractiveness of humility, kindness, and respect for self and others.  

I was very honest with him. I outright told him I saw greatness in him.  I urged him to study hard, not to go for the short-term glory of being a high school athlete, but to set his sights high, to go to college. His diploma would be the ticket to fulfill that greatness.  

He took my advice to heart.  I know this because his mother, the following year, told me how he had shared what I had said to him.  What I said motivated him, she said, and she brought out a manila folder. 

From that folder, she pulled out the hard proof: certificates of academic awards and David II's report card.  His grade point average had soared!  

He kept on applying himself.  When he graduated from high school this past June, his mother gifted me with his graduation picture and a photocopy of his diploma.

David II himself updated me on his life.  He is now a freshman in college!  My heart burst with pride.  And, yes, that greatness is still there, perhaps even more there, as is that sweet humility, kindness and respect. Christmas came early this year, as I ate up that sweet smile of his. 


Thank you, Angel David II and his Angel Mom, Aline, for your gift of enduring family ties, which allow the striving toward true greatness.

"Life is a Gift."

Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to this journal entry, you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
September Morn 2001