By the following year, due to an unfortunate set of circumstances and a misguided sense of justice, we had spilled the beans to them. It didn't ruin future Christmases, but it put a bit of a damper on that one.
What thrills me now is that we didn't ruin the part of those little girls that allows them to hope and dream, the part of them that even today holds a sense of possibility and wonder. I saw that part of them in their faces on Friday.
Some time ago I wrote about my mother's amazing ability to find a good parking place in the most crowded lot and, more interestingly, the fact that her children and grandchildren seem to have inherited that ability since her death. Except that it doesn't feel like an "ability," exactly; it feels as if we're being guided to just the right place.
That earlier post generated a lot of comments. I certainly understand the skepticism, but the fact is that a year and a half after I wrote that post, nothing has changed. We still get excellent parking spots -- all the time -- and it still strikes us funny and makes us happy. It always, always makes us think of my mother.
This past Friday, my daughters and I decided to have lunch together. It's rare that all three of us are available at the same time, so we looked forward to going to one of our favorite restaurants. Despite plans to get there early, we arrived exactly at noon, just at the peak of lunchtime traffic. The parking lot was so full that cars were lined up in a caravan that extended from the road through the parking lot. By the time we turned into the lot, the cars in the long line were unable either to move forward or to turn around.
We debated what to do. There were so many vehicles in line ahead of us that we felt sure we were in for a long wait. We discussed parking at the restaurant next door or across the street at the mall if we could ever complete one loop through the parking lot and head out onto othe road again. Because of my knee problems, neither of those options appealed to me, so I suggested that the girls let me out of the car as soon as we made it near the front door, then they could park wherever they wanted to. As an afterthought, I added, "Who knows? Maybe Mama-Too will find us something."
No sooner were those words out of my mouth than the cars ahead of us began to move. We watched them, one by one, pass slowly by one row of filled spaces and turn onto the next row, equally as full. Then, as the car directly in front of us made that same turn, taillights came on just ahead and to the left of us. A car began to back out of a space that we were perfectly aligned to pull into. It happened to be a space right in front of the restaurant door, just one row back.
We were immensely pleased -- but not entirely surprised -- and we laughed and said aloud, "Thank you, Mama-Too." Whether Mother had anything to do with our good fortune, I can't say for sure, but it's wonderful to imagine that she did. Either way, she was right there with us in that moment. Our hearts were full of our love for her and hers for us. We were three adult women, connected in the wonder and mystery of the moment, suspending disbelief and willing to accept at least the possibility that there was an angel among us.
It's the magic of that possibility that I wish for you during this holiday season, along with best wishes for peace and love and hope. Pay attention when you feel any of those emotions. You might just sense the presence of an angel of your own.
The song is "Angels Among Us" by Alabama.
Thanks to estera53 for posting the video and lyrics on YouTube.