Angels Among Us

Once again, Laura Gray has brought a story of mine to life.  She encountered two Angelas, who became her angel in times of great difficulty.

I had my own Angela angel.

My dad had Alzheimer’s.  Apparently, he had it long before it was diagnosed.  When we came home from the doctor and told our then-16-year-old son that “Grandpa has Alzheimer’s,” he responded, “You’re just figuring that out?”

He lived in various progressions of assisted living, up through the memory care unit.  We tried to pepper his room with photos and memories, but he slipped further and further away until he no longer recognized family.

He was in excellent physical condition which somehow made the memory loss more profound.  But he wouldn’t join in activities, and instead just sat.  And sat.

Then he began to experience physical ailments that put him in the ER regularly.

One afternoon, the assisted living facility called to tell me that he had been sent to the ER after a fall.

In the ER, I met Angela, a nurse. 

Angela wasn’t an ER nurse and had been sent to the ER to help with a heavy patient load. She was a geriatric nurse, and my dad wasn’t in danger, so she sat with us and talked.

She stayed with me while they took my dad for tests.  She took my father’s hand as he returned to the ER treatment room.

While waiting for him to return from the CAT scan, Angela asked me about my family, and learned that I was an only child, and that my husband and I were leaving for our 30th wedding anniversary in Italy in a couple of weeks.

She helped me get him dressed after tests determined that there was no visible damage from the fall, and I left feeling as if he was appreciated.

When he returned to the assisted living facility, he was still in pain.  My husband and I began a serious discussion about whether or not we should go on our trip.  We had been planning our 30th anniversary trip to Italy for over a year and would leave a week after his fall.

By Sunday, he appeared to be resting more comfortably, and we made the decision to go, as he was getting wonderful care and we were prepared with an international cell phone in case of an emergency.  We left on a Tuesday.

The following Saturday our son called us in Italy, and he told us that my dad had been transported by ambulance to the hospital, and that he was stable.  On Sunday morning, the doctor called our son to tell him that my father was in critical condition, and Josh called us immediately.

Dealing with a hospital over the phone

I fully expected that no one would talk with me over the phone and prepared myself for a long and frustrating wait.  To my surprise, Angela answered my call and reminded me that we had met in the emergency room during dad’s last visit.  I felt like the weight of the world had been removed from my shoulders because I could get some answers.

Angela kept me aware of my dad’s condition and sought out the doctor to talk with me.  The honesty and caring with which they both conveyed my dad’s condition made the decision to return to the US easy.

My dad passed away before we could return home

But I will always believe in angels.  They are among us.


Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson
CAROL is the founder and Principal of Anderson Performance Partners, LLC, a business consultancy focused on bringing together organizational leaders to unite all aspects of the business – CEO, CFO, HR – to build, implement and evaluate a workforce alignment strategy. With over 35 years of executive leadership, she brings a unique lens and proven methodologies to help CEOs demand performance from HR and to develop the capability of HR to deliver business results by aligning the workforce to the strategy. She is the author of Leading an HR Transformation, published by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2018, which provides a practical RoadMap for human resource professionals to lead the process of aligning the workforce to the business strategy, and deliver results, and writes regularly for several business publications.

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  1. A wonderfully crafted essay. A very sad account but with a sense of optimism in spite of knowing how things would end. Kindness is a wonderful thing and for the “Angela’s” of this world it is a natural gift. I wish there could be more people who possessed this innate kindness, the world would be a much nicer place. Perhaps with encouragement people will find that kindness within and more “Angela’s” will emerge to help people like you dad and relatives like you, making life a little more bearable. Thank you for sharing this, we had a relative in similar circumstances so can empathise.

    • Thank you, Chris. That was 2007, so I can look back now and see the beauty. I had written to the hospital to tell them the story and ask for recognition for Angela, so I still had the details in a file. There were so many things about it that were beautiful, including my son’s taking a break from college, getting a ride back home and working with our pastor until we could get home. It taught me that there really is beauty in everything if you look with intent to find.