At every juncture of my life, no matter how dark or gray it might have seemed, God has always sent me what I needed when I needed it most. Since I could remember, I had a special connection with one of my uncles. In my family we affectionately call him “Clean”. As a little girl, I lit up when ever I saw him. From an early age, he referred to me as “His Angel”. He is less than 10 years older than me, and more like a big brother than an uncle, but his presence always put a smile on my face. In our family, Clean was someone that protected us all. If someone was bothering any of the girls in our family, Clean took care of it. We all put him on a pedestal, and to be honest, we still do.
When I was around 11 years old, Clean moved away for an extended period of time, and I thought my heart would break. At this point he was in his late teens, early twenties, and I didn’t see him very often, but when I did see him my heart just melted. The thought of not seeing him, even rarely, filled me with great sadness. I still remember the day I had to say goodbye, after my mom made him a going away dinner. I really didn’t appreciate that he brought his girlfriend to the dinner, as I didn’t feel as though I should have to share him when I wasn’t going to see him for a long time. Needless to say, I pretended to like her, and enjoyed our last evening together. And poof…he was gone.
While he was away, I was approaching my teen years, which were very challenging for me. I was experiencing the normal growing pains of that period, which were compounded with some serious family issues. I was sad, lonely, and lost at this time in my life. My parents had just divorced, and I hopelessly wanted my father back, but more than that, I just yearned for my father to follow through. There were times when he said he was coming to pick me up, and I waited for hours with no sign of him insight. My heart sunk each time this happened, and it was often. We lived in a new, tougher neighborhood, so my mother didn’t allow me off the porch, so I experienced hours of isolation and loneliness. At this time, my mother and sister were overwhelmed with their own issues. As you can imagine, it was an extremely rough time for me. One day, feeling overwhelmingly troubled, about a week after my uncle departed, I received a letter. It started with “How is the most Beautiful Angel in the world…” Beautiful was the farthest from what I felt at that time. I was very skinny (Like the kids in the commercial from Ethiopia skinny), started to experience acne, underdeveloped, and had no idea how to do my hair; but when I got that letter I felt beautiful. I couldn’t wait to write him back, and I couldn’t wait to receive another letter from him. Again, it always started with “My Beautiful Angel”, and I would melt each time. At this time, when my life seemed very dark, it was the anticipation of these letters that brought sunshine into my days. It was like I held a special secret in my heart as I went through my daily activities. One day, instead of a letter, there was a package waiting for me. In the package was a handmade framed mirror with a picture of Clean imbeded inside that said, “Alicia you are my Ultimate Love”. Needless to say, I walked around hugging that mirror day and night. Now, I was not the only person enthralled with my Uncle Brother, we all were. But you can best believe I made sure everyone knew that I was the only one that he made a mirror for…My sister and Aunts quickly got tired of me and that mirror. Anyway, time passed and these letters brought me so much joy. One day I received a letter that said I am going to be coming home sooner than expected, and the first person I am going to see is my angel….
I remember it like it was yesterday. I couldn't wait for shool to end, and I waited anxiously for the door bell to ring. Sadly, the day came quickly to an end. Heartbroken that he had not come, I started to get ready for another day. I was in the shower with a shower cap on my head when the door rang. I remember my mother and sister being very excited as they opened the door, and they called me downstairs. Right away I completely panicked, because his “Beautiful Angel” looked a hot mess. I got myself together the best I could, and came downstairs. I hugged him and was completely star struck. I was unable to say much at all, but I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Clean was home and all in the world was good. Regular visits resumed. He was very handsome…fine handsome, so he had many girlfriends, which I wasn’t thrilled about. I was just happy to hold such a special place in his heart. Sometimes this was problematic because some of the girls he dated didn’t like how he put me, my sister and his sisters on a pedestal….He always made it clear from the start that if his family needed him; he was there in a heartbeat.
I was just about to turn thirteen and he began a yearly ritual of taking me to a Broadway play and dinner for my birthday. It was something special that he only did for me and again I took great pride in that. I would get dressed up, and it was the only time I felt beautiful from the inside out. One year he asked me what play I wanted to see. I told him, “Dream Girls, but it’s been sold out for months.” He asked my second choice, and told me to be ready on our special day. I still don’t know how he pulled it off at the age of 20 something, but he not only got tickets to Dream Girls, but we were in the first row. My sister and aunts are about tired of this story, because I still tell it like it was yesterday. Afterwards we went to a fancy restaurant, and he taught me how to eat like a lady and taught me how a lady should be treated. He was the first male in my life to truly make me feel like a princess…and when my true prince came, I was able to recognize him.
As we both became adults, our friendship grew into a less fairytale relationship. We became real friends and began to share our real ups and downs of life. My uncle is not a real angel, and like all of us, has made many mistakes as he navigated through his own life. No matter how many mistakes he has made, or how hard he is on himself because of those mistakes, one thing that will never change is the impact he had on my life, and for that I will be forever grateful to him.
At a very difficult time in my life, God sent me a guardian angel to give me hope in times of great pain and insecurity. In our darkest times, God will send us angels in various forms. My uncle/brother helped to build my self esteem when it was at an all time low and at such a pivotal point in my development. I realize that as tough a period of time that was for me, it was his letters that gave me hope that everything would eventually be ok…and it was. We remain very close, though we don’t talk nearly as often as I wish. Life is busy for both of us…He has a family, and I have a full life with an awesome husband and kids. My husband also respects and loves Clean, because he knows the difference that he made in who I am today. That relationship reminds me that sometimes the smallest things we do for the children in our lives, could make a tremendous impact later in life. I try to remember that with my own kids and other children and young adults that I interact with. I point out their beauty, their awesome spirit, and remind them that they are Powerful Beyond Measure…What might have been deemed as a small gesture to others, has had an astonishing affect on me…by the way…at age 40, I still have that mirror.
Please share a story of how a guardian angel looked over you when you needed it most. I am sure if you look real hard…all of you can think of at least one story where the grace of God helped you through…
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