In this strangest of all Christmas seasons of my life, things keep getting stranger. Last Thursday, while preparing cookies and coffee for one of her friends my 104-year-old mother took a fall on the kitchen floor and sustained a blow to the back of her head that required hospitalization. After four days in Enloe hospital, she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Chico late in the day.
My brother lives ninety miles away so her immediate needs all fall to me to obtain. The result is that I found myself at the Chico mall to get some of the needful things that she had requested. At this point, I am my mother’s sole point of supply for her needs in rehab.
At the Chico Mall, it is a dark and stormy night. I park the car and, wearing shoes I have not worn before, I stride through the rain and the puddles to the entrance.
I step into the brightly lit mall with new, unstable shoes, whose soles are soaking wet onto a concrete mall floor that seems to have been recently waxed to make all things shinier for Christmas. Of course, three steps in both my shoes begin to hydroplane at the same moment and my 240 pound, 6′ 1″72-year-old body starts down towards the concrete floor and a very bad Christmas.
At that precise moment, a hand grips my right arm firmly and breaks my fall. I still land on the floor in a heap but a quick personal inventory of bones and muscles tells me that although “shaken up on the play” I am still good to go. The person holding my arm who saved me from the floor leans over me.
She’s a young woman with strong-looking arms, a pleasant smile, and is wearing a reindeer hat with a reindeer rack of horns on her head and a few blinking holiday lights in a band around her brow.
“Don’t move. Are your legs all right? Straighten out that leg. Good. Now I am a trained and professional caregiver. I know how to break your fall and I know how to get you up. Let me get you up.”
She quickly gestures to someone else who gets on my other side and together they lift me back to my feet. Total time on the wet concrete at the Mall? Less than 30 seconds and I am utterly intact.
It could have been worse. Much worse. I could have, at the very least, wound up sharing a room with my 104-year-old mother in her rehab facility. Or in a body cast for Christmas.
But none of that will happen because, in this instance, there was the perfect person with the perfect skill set waiting to catch me at the perfect instant. I turned to her and said, “You are my perfect Christmas Angel.”
She shrugged and her reindeer hat’s rack gave a slight twinkle. “I just happened to be here. That’s all.”
I once believed in a universe of random events where things happen for no reason; a pure random universe. After these last two months, I am resigning the Church of “Random.”