Mary Olson had had a mild heart attack over the weekend, so her grown children and her sisters all arrived within hours at the local hospital, except for her daughter, Lisa. "Since Mom was expected to recover completely, I decided to wait until she was ready to leave, then drive down and help settle her at home," Lisa says. On Thursday afternoon, Lisa arrived at the hospital to find her mother sitting up in bed working a crossword puzzle, her usually perky self.
The two, with other relatives, spent the rest of the day together. "Mom seemed fine, and was due to be released on Saturday," Lisa says. "When I left right after dinner, she was asleep so I told the nurse to call me during the evening if she wanted company."
At 8:45 pm, the nurse phoned Lisa, and said that Mary was awake and wanted company. But by the time Lisa arrived at the hospital, some fifteen minutes later, her mother had died from a massive heart attack.
The family, of course, was devastated. But they made all the necessary arrangements that families do. A few days after the funeral, Lisa and one of her sisters finished closing up Mary's house, and began loading the trunk of Lisa's car. The women were terribly sad, and perhaps still in a state of shock as well. Their mother was gone! Was she with God? Was she happy? "It was a gray day, both emotionally and weatherwise," Lisa recalls. "Suddenly as we turned around, we saw a man standing behind us." He was about forty years old, slight in build, rather nondescript, without a coat on this raw day. It seemed strange. Although the driveway was gravel, neither of the women had heard approaching footsteps. "Who are you?" Lisa asked.
"I'm your mother's yardman," the man explained. "I cut her grass and do small jobs for her. She sits at the picnic table and visits with me. Perhaps there's a job I can do?"
"Our mother has died," Lisa told him.
"Yes, I know," he said calmly.
"I think he also sang 'Amazing Grace,' but I cannot be sure of that," Lisa says. "At some point I went to the mailbox, at the front of the property. While walking back to the house, I looked at the roof and saw a light all around the yardman. It wasn't exactly a halo, because it was around his entire body. The day was still dreary, but it could have been a small break in the clouds…" Yet the light did not appear to be coming from the sun. Listening to the stranger's joyful singing, Lisa and her sister felt strangely contented and peaceful, as if there was happiness in this situation as well as sorrow. How coincidental that the yardman would drop by on the very day they needed consolation.
When the yardman finished cleaning the gutters, Lisa paid him. The women were leaving and, concerned that he had no jacket, they offered him a ride into town. "No," he said. "I walk everywhere." And with that comment, he was gone. "I don't mean that he walked away," Lisa says. "I mean he was GONE. He just disappeared. We looked up and down the road, and he was nowhere to be seen."
Another strange happening in this most unusual day. Or were they imagining the significance of these events? Lisa spotted the next door neighbors on their porch, so she and her sister walked over to say goodbye. "Wasn't it fortunate that Mother's yardman came by just now and cleaned out the gutters?" Lisa asked.
The neighbors both had a strange look on their faces. "That was not your mother's yardman," one said. "We have never seen him before today." Lisa's aunt, who had the same yardman as her mother, later agreed. "Our man has never walked anywhere in his life," she concurred. "Everyone knows it."
Then who was the mysterious man? For awhile, Lisa ignored her own instincts. "I paid him," she points out, "and I've never heard of an angel taking money, so how could he be one?" That's a point. But as in the Bible, angels often come disguised, and must take on all human attributes or needs, in order to be believable. "Now I think he was an angel and not the regular yardman," Lisa says today. "I think he was there to comfort both my sister and me because we were so very sad about our mother's death." She has never seen the man again, but suspects that he—and her mother—watch over her always.