When I was around six or seven years old, my family went on vacation to the ocean along the South Carolina shore. My older sister, who was 17, was told to watch me on the beach while my parents made lunch back in our trailer.
This section of the beach was deserted and certainly no fun for a teenage girl, so my sister warned me to stay put and then left for a walk down the beach. Being headstrong, too sure of myself, and indignant that my sister thought she could tell me what to do, I waited until she was out of sight, then galloped straight into the water.
I'd known how to swim in pools for years and didn't know enough to be afraid of the ocean. The waters that day were turbulent. Before I knew it, a huge wave knocked me down and the undertow grabbed me and began pulling me out to sea.
The waves were so rough and sandy that I couldn't even get my bearings as to which way was up. It felt as if I was underwater forever. I refused to give up and fought and struggled to find any indication of which way to go to find air.
Suddenly, I saw golden rays from the sun slice through the water right in front of me-where they illumined legs!--big, "man" legs, with big feet. I grabbed them and held on tight. The man scooped me up out of the water as easily as if I were a baby in a swing. I'll never forget how strong his arms felt, or how he looked. He was real big, and he had a big black beard, thick black hair, and lots of chest hair. My dad has red hair and freckles, and no hair on his legs, and I'd never seen a man that big or that hairy.
The man carried me to my blanket, wrapped me in a towel, and without a word he walked away. I looked around for my sister, mom, dad, or anybody. When I looked back toward the direction the man had walked he was gone. He'd just disappeared.
The towel wasn't mine. It had pink and blue shells and fishes printed on it. I was exhausted, but I ran as fast as I could back to the trailer. I tried to tell my parents what had happened, but I don't think they put much stock in my story. Maybe it was too farfetched for them.
After lunch that day, I went back to the blanket. There was no towel with shells and fishes. There were my footprints and my sister's but no 'big man' footprints. Not anywhere. But years later I still remember every inch of that brawny, dark-haired stranger, and I remember the odd sensation of feeling no heavier than a feather in his arms. Of course he left me something to remember him by--my life.
So if anyone tries to tell you that all angels are blond with white gowns, surrounded in light, I beg to differ!