I believe in angels. I was lucky enough to live in the company of a real, live guardian angel for 8 years. To me, an angel is a protector who always has me in safe hands. When ever I am reminded of this, I can’t help but feel blessed for this presence in my life. Papa was and still is everyone’s protector. Picture a robust, Italian looking man, with square glasses that he would glare through if he thought any one was causing hurt to his family. However, don’t be fooled by his appearance. Papa had an almost angelic side to him as well. I think it was the sparkle in his eye that gave away his virtues of being a strong, sincere, authentic man. Although he passed away nearly 10 years ago, I feel just as safe as I did when he was alive.
There are millions of things I could remember my Papa for. The one thing that seems to stand out is the way he would whistle. It was such a distinct whistle that it was too genuine to ever be mocked. To some people in town he was even known for it. His whistle made me feel safe. I was like Pavlov’s dog. Except instead of drooling when I heard a bell, I would feel safe when I heard Papa’s whistle.
The day Papa died, my family and I sat outside mourning together. I remember feeling like the breeze and the fresh air just didn’t feel the same. My guardian from harm’s way was gone and I felt like I was thrown out to the lion’s den so unexpectedly at too young of an age. However, almost immediately after thinking this, I heard a whistle. I thought my emotions were making up illusions and my senses were playing tricks on me, but then I heard it again. I looked up and caught my brother’s eye. He also sat in complete shock. We looked to see a blue-jay sitting next to us on the porch, whistling Papa’s tune. This bird’s whistle sounded exactly like Papa’s. If I closed my eyes, it didn’t matter that the whistle was coming from a bird instead of Papa. I almost felt as if Papa was there hugging me. It still amazes me that just that sound evoked certain emotions and such vivid memories of Papa.
To this day, 10 years later, the blue-jay follows me and my family. It is now known to us as the Papa bird. Since Papa was no longer able to protect me physically, he found a way to watch over me forever. Both the blue-jay and Papa make me feel blessed for their presence. That is exactly what an angel is supposed to do. Some believe that the Papa bird is just a coincidence, but to me, a concrete feeling can’t just be luck. I have my very own guardian angel and that I will always believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.