Have you ever had someone in your life, that you knew deep down, that they were an angel sent to help guide your way. I’ve had such experiences as this most of my life at various times. When I came back to North Carolina, after years of being away, the plan was not to stay. Unlike most of my life, this was not planned out. I came back to aging parents, illness, and them needing help. My plans ended and the journey began on figuring out a way to survive staying in North Carolina and taking care of them. Everything I did revolved around that goal. I was sent an angel that helped me muddle my way through the swamp.
After years of struggling to “find” myself through divorce, raising kids, businesses and just life in general, I thought I was finally on a path. The path veered once again, and I was left forging a new road. I decided to open a home décor boutique and design studio. Interior design was my degree and calling. Having a boutique shoppe was a dream. I decided that this would allow me income and allow me the flexibility to help my parents. My Mom passed away before I even got the businesses really started. I was then left in a situation of a new business and caring for my Dad. Starting a business in the midst of all this was insane. I knew what I could do, but I’d never done it while managing a father with health issues and dementia. I’m stubborn enough that I wouldn’t give up without trying.
A friend from high school reconnected with me when she was home for a visit. She planned to come by the shoppe and visit. She brought her Mom, Ms. Hilda. It was like a ray of sunshine blew in the day they visited. After her visit, Sharon would head back to Pennsylvania, and Ms Hilda was still close by living alone. She became my instant supporter and daily visitor. Ms. Hilda loved her gardenI got, her antiques, her church family, and she loved me. Many days in the midst of chalk paint, crackers for lunch, and juggling my Dad, she would just “pop” in with a smile, a cold drink and a helping hand.
Ms. Hilda was my Dad’s age. Sharon and I had known each other in high school, but neither of us really visited each other’s homes. Meanwhile, years and states had grown in-between us reconnecting. One night, after having a Ms. Hilda visit during the day, I mentioned her to my Dad. I was totally shocked that they knew each other and had since early childhood. My Dad talked about knowing her husband, when they got married, and the struggles that she had overcome through her life. He told me about she she first got married and would go grocery shopping. He said “ the cart was almost as tall as she was”. She might have been little, but she was tough. In those smiling memories of her that my Dad relayed, he kept a lot back. I knew a little. He knew a heck of a lot more than I did.
Ms. Hilda was a tiny little thing. I called her my Pixie. She was always smiling. I can literally hear her in my head, bouncing step into my Shoppe, with her “ hello honey”. I swear, she was a garden fairy, but so much more than that she was an angel. Her kids were out of town, and I was alone with my Dad. My Mom had just passed away, and she gave me that motherly advice that I didn’t have. She also was a beautiful soul that you could talk to about anything with no judgement, no shame, and no worries. She knew what I was dealing with caring for my Dad. She also knew that I was doing it alone. She had spent many, many years doing it alone.
One spring afternoon, Ms. Hilda popped in for an afternoon visit. It was in the middle of the week and quiet. She had been working in her yard all day, and took a break to stop in. We were in the store alone. I had no appointments, and no plans for the rest of the day other than typical daily chores. She came in and took a look at my display changes, picked up a bar of gardener’s soap, and settled in with an ice cold Coke. . We started chatting about the usual stuff. She always brought such joy to whatever we were discussing. We somehow got on the topic of marriage, relationships, children, struggles and life. I ended up locking the door early that day. No one came and interrupted the conversation. She told me some very personal things about her life and marriage. She talked to me about how life’s struggles had made her faith and her ability to live stronger. She asked me a few questions that only an angel could have known. I told her of my marriage, divorce and life afterwards. The good, the bad and the ugly. She told me to not hang on to those bad and uglies. She told me it was okay to remember, but not to hold them in to poison what my life could be. Something broke in me that day. Something that years of therapy had not helped. I remember only a few times in my life crying like I did that day. It was like my angel sat with me. She understood many of my past situations because she had dealt with them herself. She showed no judgement or attitude; she showed only love and understanding. She helped me heal a place in my soul that was a bubbling pot of grime. Because of her own story, I knew that letting it go was not only possible, but real because I saw it in her. She changed my life that day.
A few months later, Ms. Hilda came in and said she was down-sizing and going to move in with “her girls”. She planned to split the year – six months in Pennsylvania and six months in Florida. This was all from an extremely independent, thriving woman. She then told me that she had a few things that she wanted me to have. She said her kids didn’t want them, and she knew that I’d appreciate her “old junk”; Not anywhere close to “junk” in my mind. She gave me this wonderful old trunk, an amazing China cabinet, her walnut mantel, cookbooks, china, silver and the biggest pot of rosemary I’ve ever seen. I asked her over and over if she was sure about giving stuff away. Repeatedly she said “yes“. I moved her gifted items to the store and home. She would take no money for anything. They became my Ms.Hilda treasures.
Not long too long after she started down-sizing, I had to close due to my Dad’s increased illness. He had gone into heart failure, and was placed on hospice care. Through all this, I still spoke to her at least every few days. On a beautiful day, kind of like today, the sun was shining and a spring breeze was blowing. I was in my chicken coop having some afternoon chicken bonding time when I got a phone call. Not only had Ms. Hilda given me her friendship and a healing heart, she had connected me with her nephew, who quickly became a member of my very small group of bests. He was the one who called me to let me know that she had passed away in her sleep. I sat with my chickens and my dog and flooded the barnyard with tears. I will always believe that she felt something, and that’s why she gave them those items before she passed away. I’m glad that she was able to see how much joy they brought to me before she left this realm.
I know Ms. Hilda is watching over me. I feel her deeply many days. I have her cabinet with all my treasures in my creative space. It has her Skelton keys hanging on the front (She joked that only I would know what to do with them) I have her cookbooks on my shelf with my collection. Her trunk and mantel are at home in my den. In the cabinet is still a corner of her items ~ a glass box with seashells, a starfish, a sand dollar, tones, a jar of old buttons and an old lock. She left me these “things”. More importantly, she left me with knowing what no judgement feels like, what peace feels like, and what true friendship feels like. She gave me her gift of love. She unlocked my heart. Today, I honor her, and the day she became a true angel. She was already a Pixie Angel. She was a truly magical soul that changed me in many ways.
Ms. Hilda thank you for your strength, your guidance, your example, your gifts, and your connections. More importantly, thank you for sharing your true loving spirit with this world.