Saturday, September 15, 2007

At the bookstore I put five dollars in the Angel Lady's jar. She takes my hand in hers, concentrating.

Has your father passed on? she asks.

I nod.

She closes her eyes.

I'm hearing a lot of voices, she tells me, but there's a man who's demanding to be heard above all the others. I'm thinking it's your father.

Yes, that would be my father.

He's so proud of you, he wants you to know he's hung a bright shining star right over your head.

Thanks, Dad. My own special star.

It makes me smile.

I see your Guardian Angels, the Angel Lady continues. Her hand is warm. Three of them, she ways. She looks at me again, her eyes glistening with a hint of tears. One's there to tell you to lighten up. And another to give you courage. And I see . . . someone dressed like a Spanish Conquistador. He's your protector.

I tell my sister about the Angel Lady and the Conquistador.

Well, she says, it sounds like Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha, is looking out for you.

What a lovely thought: the idealistic, eccentric nobleman who saw the best in everyone is my very own Guardian Angel. Who can forget the people he touched with his simple faith in them, including the earthy woman he dubbed Dulcinea, his fair lady, a woman who then gathered her rags about her and held her head up, deciding to become what he believed she was?

I’d like to think he’s wearing my token, and my cause, next to his heart.

Maybe old Don Quixote thinks I can do the impossible. After all, The Knight of the Woeful Countenance defeated many windmills in his day. Perhaps he’s telling me not to give up. He’d be a formidable ally, with his faithful squire Sancho beside him.

Some days, at sunset, I think I see the two of them on the horizon, one as tall and thin and gangly as the other is portly and stocky, their rusty, dented armor clanking as they seek yet another quest.

And the darker the night grows, the brighter my star shines.

---In memory of my father, who would have been 85 years old today.

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