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Angels Among Us

Returned from a divine lesson in human resiliency, a lesson which occurred at our truly friendly and fun RICHARD'S RESTAURANT--neither a planned seminar nor a church service, simply diners and staff chatting, most listening intently.  An upbeat couple, routinely spreading cheer on a daily basis, shared their experiences combating an unwelcome challenge from a fleeting, Sunday afternoon visitor, a hop-scotching tornado, which moved capriciously onward to the buckeye state, stealing away most of their home, and life as they knew it, within its dancing, churning, whirling funnel.

Both interspersed their accounts with sincere, moving praise of family members, first-responders, firefighters, policemen, troopers, medical aid providers, clean-up crews, governmental officials, Salvation Army officers, and others, such as Randy Grimes and Eddie Beagles--citing keen bravery, sensitivity, genuine concern and helpfulness demonstrated by those same individuals.  Sadness and loss, which those of us who listened could only imagine, assumed a back seat to the sense of humor and balance this couple revealed as they freely shared their heart-ache and especially their gratitude. 

Predominantly, though, each discussed random acts of kindness, notably that of a young neighbor man preparing himself a sandwich and who, upon startlingly noting the instantaneous demolition of his friends' home, bounded across hazardous barriers to assist them where they sat, neither roof nor walls continuing to shelter their lives.  He reached down for the family dog still in Jean's lap and held the pet closely and securely while his neighbor extricated herself from her recliner as she glanced at blue sky overhead.  Although only one of the couple's soon-to-be countless reminiscences of voluntary good deeds and caring, suddenly my husband and I were aware and impressed that such "angels among us" literally filled their conversation and seemed predestined to soothe a difficult situation: after all, Jean discovered several pennies prior to the tornadic activity and maintains her belief that each lucky penny found signifies an angel nearby.

Clipping newspaper stories becomes an addictive, lifetime habit for many of us who choose to remember fascinating people, places, information; nestling among our coffee mugs and place-mats upon our kitchen table, a wooden clothespin clasps a stack of all-too-recent articles, transporting photo-journalism to new personal proportions.  The top-most photo features state-trooper Aaron Cook, one of our favorite people since his days as a Line Street toddler, comforting my child-hood friend and Line Street alumnus Jean who with her grace, valorous acceptance, and happy spirit in the face of life's uncertainties, by example, taught us who listened this week that some people never change.  Thank goodness.  Once an angel, always an angel!

Susie Duncan Sexton

Columbia City

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