It’s tempting to ask angels to take care of all of our problems. But in many cases, people are meant to be earth angels, too. Bill Garvey knows this very well, for he is a giver. After 9/11, he and his family (and some helpers) carved an enormous pumpkin that they had grown themselves, got it into a pickup truck, and Bill drove it all the way to Ground Zero, just to bolster the spirits of the workers there and make them smile. He does lots of kind deeds like that.
Not too long ago, Bill was driving down US-80 in freezing rain about two hours from his Michigan home. He had been gone for two days and couldn’t wait to see his wife and children, and sleep in his own bed again. “I was daydreaming as I listened to the truck drivers on the CB talking back and forth,” Bill says. “My ears perked up as I heard one of them say that, just ahead, there was a little old man and women standing behind their car with the hood up. Someone needed to get them some help, or they were going to get hit, maybe even killed.”
Almost immediately Bill came over a hill, and saw the elderly couple just ahead. They reminded him of his own parents. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘OK God, this is a test, right?'” Bill says. He grabbed the CB and announced that he would take care of the situation. As he pulled up behind the man and woman and put on his flashers, he could hear the truckers thanking him for taking the time to help. It gave him a warm feeling in the midst of a freezing day.
“As I opened my driver’s door, the wind from a passing truck almost ripped the door from its hinges,” Bill says. He asked the shivering couple if he could help them, explaining that he was a mechanic. They were ecstatic.
“We’ve been here for over two hours,” the gentleman said. “One trucker told us he would call for help—and it shouldn’t take long for someone to come—but that was over an hour ago.”
“We were so cold, but afraid to sit in the car in case no one saw us,” the woman added, her cheeks red from the cold. “But when it started to rain, we took turns.”
Bill was appalled. They should never have had to go through such an ordeal! He checked their car and saw that one of the fan belts had come apart, and it needed a pulley. “I can fix your car, but I don’t have the part,” Bill told them. “But come back to my truck and get warm.”
Bill pushed the maps off his front seat and helped the couple into his truck. He turned the heater to “high.” “It felt so good knowing that at least I could give them warmth.” He carefully pulled back onto the turnpike and headed for the next toll station.
The couple were on their way to Michigan for a funeral for an old friend, they explained. Bill offered to give them a ride all the way, but they declined. “You’ve done enough already,” the man said. “And please stop before the toll booth, so you won’t have to pay twice. Just drop us off here.”
“No way. You’ve been through enough,” Bill told them. “I’m not leaving until we have things arranged.” He paid the toll, parked and escorted them into the toll station. There was no store nearby where Bill could buy a part, but soon a mechanic had been contacted and was on his way. The couple would be okay now.
They accompanied Bill out to his truck, and stood there as Bill got in and opened a window to say a last goodbye. “The old man walked up to the door and reached through my window, putting his hand on mine, and he asked me, ‘Son are you a religious man?'” Bill says.
I told him that I believed in God, but admitted I didn’t go to church as much as I should. “Well,” said the gentleman, “a moment before you came, my wife and I had asked God to send us an angel.” He looked deeply into Bill’s eyes. “And He did. Son, today you are an angel.
Bill has never forgotten the encounter. “I will never forget the love I felt from the owners of a car I could not fix,” he says. And there’s no doubt he passed the test.
About Joan Wester Anderson
Author and lecturer Joan Wester Anderson was born in Evanston, Illinois. She began her writing career in 1973 with a series of family humor articles for local newspapers and Catholic publications, and was a monthly columnist for two national magazines during the 1980s. She has published more than one thousand articles and short stories in a variety of publications, including Woman’s Day, Modern Bride, Virtue, Reader’s Digest and the New York Times Syndicate.
Her 15 books include “Where Angels Walk, True Stories of Heavenly Visitors,” which was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year, has sold almost two million copies and been translated into 14 languages. Published in fall 1994 were the sequel to “Angels,” titled “Where Miracles Happen,” and for children, “An Angel to Watch Over Me.” Both books were written in response to suggestions from readers and were followed in rapid succession by three more in this series. “Forever Young” (Thomas More Publishers), the life story of actress Loretta Young, was published in November 2000. The actress had read the angel series and requested Anderson as her biographer. The two became close friends. Anderson’s book, “In the Arms of Angels” (Loyola Press) covers angelic activity primarily during the past decade, including stories of hope from the 9/11 and Columbine School tragedies. Her most recent books, “Guardian Angels” (Loyola Press), and “Angels and Wonders” (Loyola Press), focus on amazing and tender stories of God’s answers to prayers.
Anderson has appeared on national television programs including “Good Morning America,” “Oprah,” “20/20,” “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” and “Mother Angelica Live,” and was featured in such documentaries as “Angels–Beyond the Light” (NBC), “Angel Stories” and “Stories of Miracles” (The Learning Channel), and many videos. She was a story consultant for the television series, “It’s A Miracle,” lectures in cities across the country and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio talk shows.
Anderson, who is Catholic, is a member of St. Edna’s Parish in Arlington Heights Ill., a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and a former adjunct professor at Harper Community College in Palatine, Ill. She and her husband live in suburban Chicago, and have five grown children and four grandchildren.