For an angel went down at a certain season into
the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the
troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease
--John 5:4 KJV
When the mood strikes me, the moon is just right, and the ocean behind my home is calm and calling me, I obey it and come. Just like Mama taught me to, quick and with no lip—I come, body naked, soul bared, water flowing ‘round my waist—and once again I am seventeen, innocent, unashamed. Not stuck in this sixty-some-odd-year-old body that plumps and hangs whichever way it pleases. No. In those sweet moments I am Youth again. She’s still there inside me, that beautiful girl. So why not let the little booger out every now and again?
Have you ever been skinny dipping? My first time was as a teenager, gorgeous and oblivious to what the world had in store for me. These days, I suppose a woman my age really should not bare all—that’s what folks would have you think, anyway. But you know what I say to those folks? Kiss my nice white behind, slightly tanned. Yes ma’am.
I’ve come to accept my body. And that’s saying a lot. My tummy makes it hard for me to paint my toenails, and my rear has stretched to somewhere ‘round mid-thigh. But the thing that really gets me is the looseness under my neck. I feel that soft waddle and wonder who the heck has taken over, like one of those alien movies where they grow up out of bean pods.
No, sadly, it’s me. I’m showing my years. I could say I’ve lived life for all it’s worth, but to tell the truth, about half the time it’s plumb lived me to death. I’m still here though to tell about it, which is mighty amazing if you ask me. Because I haven’t always wanted to be here, in this life, that is. But a very special young lady—one that reminded me so much of myself—came to visit a couple years ago, and Lord bless her heart, she changed all that.
I can still remember the look on her face when we met! Her green eyes bugged and darted away fast like a child staring at the sun, sweet thing. I wanted to giggle so bad, but I kept control of myself—I’ve had years of learning to stuff down true emotion. That, and the fact I’d seen this look of shock before. See, I’d just come back from skinny dipping and was still naked as a jaybird when the door swung open. There she was—my angel—she’d finally arrived.
Honor painted me a whole new view on life, and I hope I did the same for her. We were kindred spirits, Honor and me. She touched me and all at once knew me. And as the day is long, I know I’ll never meet another Honor Maddox. The child was like a daughter to me.
Now I may not know a lot, and people may poke fun at me—I know they do, snickering, making jokes, calling me names—but that’s all right. Because when Honor met me I was a mess, my goodness. And today, well, I’m not perfect, far from it, but better off. And you know I’m not a ‘specially religious person, but I’m pretty sure The Man Above had something to do with Honor finding me. See, He’s crafty like that. I don’t put anything past Him.
I’m not only older, I’m wiser now too—and this is what I know for a fact: There are angels who can enter your life every now and again whether man, woman or puppy dog, and leave their sweet little paw prints all over your life. If you want my humble advice, tell ‘em, “Come in! Come in!” like I did with Honor that fine summer day—into my home and deepest darkest nooks and crannies. The opening-up part can be scary as the dickens but when you meet a true angel, let me tell you, you’re never the same. Problem is, you can only see angels in brief glimpses like stars poking out from behind the clouds. The days I shared with Honor were numbered and just too few.
This is another thing I know for a fact: A woman can’t be an island, not really. No, it’s the touching we do in other people’s lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves—shiny new cars and jobs and money—they don’t mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It’s the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world.
There’s something truly magical about St. Anne’s Isle. It’s a place full of sand and salt water, marsh grass and colorful people—all the things that give a place its soul. St. Anne’s surely has one. A soul, that is. Or rather, many of ‘em. Souls are drawn here from all over the place. I was—came as a little girl, spending my summer times here with Mama and Daddy. We lived inland the rest of the year where mosquitoes bit like the dickens and ocean breezes never blew.
I came back to St. Anne’s when I was able and made it my home. I missed how the sand felt, blowing over my naked feet. I missed the Gullahs who seemed to know me better than I did myself. And then Honor came—she was drawn here too. The island pulled her like a lighthouse, guiding her through rocky seas.
Honor came to me in the most unusual way. Our meeting was coincidental, or maybe it wasn’t; I’m tending to think now it was all meant to happen, every speck. Course, that’s the magic of this place, like I was saying.
It pains me to say these words, but Lord knows I got to get it out. I’m gonna take great care to tell it just like it happened—to me, to Honor, God rest her sweet soul. So listen up close now. I doubt after all this is said and done I can ever rehash it again.
Copyright ©2007 Nicole Seitz. Reprinted with permission from Thomas Nelson.