Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Angels All Around Us

Story by Wilda Lahmann

It was a warm summer evening in late August 1986.  Daily Vacation Bible school had just had its closing program. Both sets of grandparents were able to attend along with the kids and their Daddy, Randy.  I had to work that evening but I made sure the twins Jeremy and Melanie had their nice clothes set out for the program before I left.  Jeremy hadn’t wanted to wear his dress shoes. He wanted to wear his beat up, grungy looking sneakers with Velcro closures. “No, you are not wearing those shoes to church tonight,” I told him sternly.  I gave him a quick hug good bye and then I was out the door for work.

Randy was busy in the kitchen making the kids’ favorite: macaroni and cheese.  He discovered the milk was nearly gone and bread was low too, so he asked our 13-year-old son Scott if he’d mind running over to the corner market for milk and bread. “No problem,” he replied. He knew that a trip to the “GetnGo Market” usually meant a soda or candy too. Jeremy, age 7, asked if he couldn’t please go along too. Randy wasn’t sure as neither of the twins had been allowed to cross the busy street…ever. “Please Daddy,” he begged with his huge, brown “puppy dog” eyes. “I’ll stay right with Scotty.  I promise.” After a few more minutes of begging, Randy relented and said yes and gave them each extra change for a treat from the market. The boys excitedly headed out the door together, 2 brothers hand in hand. Melanie never asked to go. She stayed behind with her Daddy, fixing “mac n cheese.”

My brother Randy with Wilda, Scott, Jeremy & Melanie

It was a busy Friday night at the restaurant.  I was the evening hostess and I loved my job as it allowed me to interact with so many different people. I knew the regulars by name and I would serve them water and coffee and visit with them for a few minutes beside their tables. That is exactly what I was doing that evening when the phone call came in. My manager motioned to me from the front desk. “Phone call.”  Usually, we weren’t allowed to take personal calls while working but he must have known this was an urgent call from a frantic 13-year-old on the other end of the line.

I put the phone to my ear.  It was Scott. He was crying and breathing heavily. “Mom, there’s been a terrible accident.” More crying…. and background noise.

Instinctively I asked “Is it Jeremy? What happened?”
Jeremy Lance Lahmann

Before he could answer I heard what sounded like the whirring of helicopter blades over the phone, so loud that I wouldn’t have been able to hear Scott if he had been talking. Then “Mom, there’s a helicopter landing in the front yard!”

It hit me like a blow to my stomach: Life Flight. They come to the aid of only the worst of accidents.

After a few minutes of unsuccessfully comforting my eldest son on the phone, I knew I had to get to the hospital ASAP. I had to be with my baby, to speak words of encouragement so he would know that he had to hang on. He couldn’t leave our lives already. We had just celebrated the twins seventh birthday, fifteen days earlier.

What hospital? Emanuel. How do I get there? I’ve never driven in that part of town before. I talk with a few waiters and waitresses who tell me that I really shouldn’t be driving at a time like this anyway. But who can drive me?

A smaller dark haired lady was waitressing that night. It was her first day on the job and I didn’t know her, but she came up to me and offered to drive me to the hospital. I readily accepted and we went out to her car and began our drive. It was a beautiful night. Stars were shining, the moon was bright. How could it be possible that I was riding to the place where my youngest son was likely taking his final breaths.

I asked her name. “Anne,” she told me softly.  She had the most comforting voice. She reminded me that regardless of the outcome, Jeremy was already a child of God. She quoted scriptures for me that gave me hope for the future. She also told me that I would need to be strong for the rest of my family. When we got to the hospital she walked with me to the main doors and then told me goodbye. I asked if she maybe wanted to come inside?  She told me “no” that she knew I had family and friends waiting for me inside the hospital. She was glad she was able to give me the ride.  And then she was gone.

Jeremy made his transition from his life on earth shortly after being struck by the drunk driver in the crosswalk in front of our house. It happened so quickly he likely never knew what hit him.  He never regained consciousness. Our beautiful baby boy, Melanie’s twin brother, Scott’s little tag along … was laid to rest beneath a tall fir tree overlooking the valley and Mt Hood to the east.

Mt. Hood from Mountain View Cemetery
I returned to work a week or so later and I wanted to see Anne, to thank her again for being there for me when I needed her. I was told that Anne had never been seen again at the restaurant. She had never returned for her paycheck and they didn’t have a phone number for her.  It was then, while talking with others who had been there that Friday night, I had the feeling I had been visited by an angel.  Others agree.

Since then I have learned that a few of the meanings of the name Anne are “messenger of God”, “God’s gift” and “favored by God”.

The Anne I met that night, was every one of those … and so much more.

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