Recognizing Gifts

Grandma Bea on the right

My grandmother, Beatrice Mutz, passed away on January 3rd in 2019. She was 91 years old, a nice long life for her. We had services for her a short while after. We have a fairly large family but we are spread out all over the United States, so it was rare over the years for us to be together. Her passing brought us back together and we all fell back into being a tight knit group. It was amazing.

Two of her kids, my mother and my uncle Steve, took care of her daily needs to her last day. My aunt Karen also took a lot of time out from her life in California to come to Illinois to help out. She was very open so we knew a lot of the details of her last days. What she was thinking, what she was feeling.

I drove back to my hometown the day before her funeral. I spoke with my mom on the phone and she told me the most amazing story. My grandmother had been laying in her bed, talking to my uncle. And she said “Is that Joe standing in the corner of the room? Is my husband here?” My grandfather Joe had passed away in the year 2000. My uncle said “No, it’s just you and me here.” And she said “Well who is that man standing in the corner of the room?” My mother told me that she viewed it as a visit from an angel.

That night I went out to have a few drinks with some friends. And one of the first songs that I played in the bar was “She Talks to Angels” by the Black Crowes. I felt this immediate connection with the song and the story my mother had told me that day. The song was quite popular in the 1990s and is still played quite regularly at bars, but I did feel that it was a special gift to me to hear it at exactly that time. I think of my grandmother every time I hear the song now. I intentionally play it to honor her some days. I know the song isn’t exactly about the same thing, but it’s still just a little thing I do.

She was such a kind person, and full of wisdom. She was the only person who consistently sent me cards on holidays and my birthday, just to let me know that she was thinking of me and praying for me. I miss that connection now.

I know a lot of people who would explain something like this away as a coincidence. “That’s a popular song, you were bound to hear it. And your grandmother was quite ill in the end, she may have just been hallucinating.” But it doesn’t feel that way to me. I stopped doing that years ago because too many of these types of “coincidences” have happened to me.

I remember one particular morning I was running in a small nature preserve near my apartment. Life seemed to be crashing down around me. I had a bad attitude and struggled to see a path forward with the issues I was dealing with. Running always helps a bit, so I hit the trails. As I was running down the trail, I looked over and saw a mama and a papa dear with a fawn, probably only a few weeks old. It had the little white spots on it’s fur. I had never seen that before. I love animals and I love being in nature. I instantly felt a peaceful and calm feeling come over me and spent the rest of the day being grateful for what I had and not hurt for what I had lost in life. I needed that moment. I chose to believe that something greater provided that for me. It felt like a special gift given to me, so I chose not to explain it away as good timing.

The more I recognize these gifts, the greater purpose and love and gratitude I feel. And once I got to a place where I could allow myself to recognize them as gifts given, I realized how many more I had been given throughout my life. And the thought of that keeps me going on those particularly hard and dark days. I’ll end with something I just read in the book “Walking on Water” by Madeleine L’Engle: “To be visited by an angel is to be visited by God.”

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