A Busy Angel
She came back just like I hoped she would! It took her awhile, twenty eight days to be exact. But she made it!
When my niece Ashley successfully passed her final hurdle to become a registered nurse, I wanted to acknowledge her achievement with a special gift. A few years ago she received an undergraduate degree in business, but she later switched gears to follow her heart. Her mother, my sister, was a nurse and proudly stood with her child at the pinning ceremony. Like mother, like daughter; two compassionate, kind women who committed themselves to caring for others.
At a local gift shop I found an adorable, small angel figurine with the word “Compassion” inscribed on its base.
“Perfect!” I thought when I saw it and I promptly took it home and wrapped it up in colorful tissue paper and then surrounded it with a layer of protective bubble wrap and placed it in a cardboard box with a note of congratulations. On that particular summer afternoon I was mailing various other packages and I started to rush when I saw that the time was nearing the closing hour of the post office. I was sending off two of my books for a national award final evaluation so I was a bit distracted. I was getting nervous about the limited time that remained. The books needed to be sent on that very day so I first prepared those mailing envelopes and then I copied down what I thought was my sister’s correct address from my jumbled address book and quickly wrote it on the mailing label for my niece’s gift.
Gathering up the three packages I hurried out the door for the five minute trip to the Post Office. Luckily, my favorite postal worker was on duty and he helped me with the correct methods of delivery for each item. The books needed to be delivered within two days, one to Chicago and one to a town in Connecticut. But the angel could take her time, so I sent her First Class and did not bother to get a tracking number or insurance like I did for the other two items.
I never have had any reason to distrust the U.S. Postal Service. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” says an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City and I have always believed it. So I was surprised when I asked my sister about the package two weeks later.
“No, Ashley did not get anything from you,” she responded to my inquiry.
“Hmm-m-m-m,” I wondered to myself, “that is odd. It should have been there in seven days at the very most.” Temporarily allowing my mind to be irrational, I suspected that maybe someone took it off my sister’s porch in her absence.
“Oh no!” I continued. “I picked out that angel just for Ashley” I explained. “You know how I love angels,” I said reinforcing my dismay.
The days went by and still no sign of the angel.
A few nights later as I lay in bed, I started to replay the events of that doomed delivery day. Suddenly, I came to a horrible realization and confirmed it by digging out the Post Office receipt in the dead of the night. In my haste I had written down the correct street address but the wrong zip code! The addresses of my two New York sister were next to one another in my address book and I took a piece from each address to make one. I was now very upset and had trouble getting back to sleep.
The next morning hoping that the angel would be delivered to the incorrect zip code, I put my other sister on alert. But no angel appeared.
Trying to summon my usual positive outlook, I next thought that maybe the angel just was taking her time and would eventually get to the right street address. But no angel appeared.
Over three weeks passed since the angel left my hands.
Then yesterday when I got home from school I saw the familiar brown box on the kitchen counter. My angel had come back to me! There was the now slightly worn package with the suspected incorrect label and a big white “Return to Sender” notice next to it. Yep, I had mixed up the addresses!
Cradling the box I cheerfully said out loud to the angel, “I am glad you are back. Now I am going to send you on another journey and I will make sure this time that I have the correct zip code!”
When I resent the package, I checked and re-checked the mailing label five times. I whispered goodbye to the angel again while standing in line waiting my turn, and wished her a safe and speedy journey.
Well, my sister just informed me that the angel made it to her house. I am so relieved.
Reflecting on the whole experience I was reminded of a valuable lesson—don’t ever give up on angels, they always end up where they are needed.
I will continue to collect angels and look for their good deeds. I know they are out there, and some I think may even work for the Post Office.