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Angel on a Train

by Robin D., Michigan

I have always felt that I saw my guardian angel when I was a young married woman. My husband, a career military man, had been sent to Germany, and after nearly six months there alone, he asked if I would be willing to come to Germany with our three young children. I said yes, because I missed him as much as he missed me.

It was a hard trip with three children, two of them not even in school yet. The plane was late, the air was turbulent, the kids got sick (me, too!).

When we got to the airport in West Germany, I thought everything would be OK. But my husband was not there to meet us. I sat on our bags, feeling very much alone, especially since I didn't speak German at all. The children were tired and cranky. I thought I would call the base, but I had no idea how to work the phones. I was close to tears.

Then I heard a voice in my ear. In impeccable English, it said, "May I be of some small assistance, Madam?" I turned around and saw a middle-aged gentleman standing next to me. With great relief I explained that I didn't know how to make a phone call.

He was very kind as he took the phone number and put some change into the machine. I was embarrassed that I didn't have any German coins, but he just took out his own wallet with a smile.

Soon I was talking to someone from my husband's base, who explained that my husband had had a small auto accident and was in the base hospital getting a broken ankle attended to. I was most upset at this, after the stressful plane trip and all, because I had no idea how to get to the base from the hospital. A taxi or limousine was out of the question. As I hung up the phone, I started to cry; then I tried to stop because I didn't want to worry the children.

The gentleman patted me kindly on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Madam, I will show you how to get a train for the base," he said. And he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a thermos, poured me some coffee, and had me drink it, as though there was nothing in the whole world to be anxious about. He was really so calming, and I found myself just following him around to this counter and that, while in what sounded like flawless German he explained my situation and need.

Soon after that, he hailed a taxi for me, told the driver in German to take us to the train station, told me what the fare would be and how to pay it, and before I could say anything more, just walked quickly back into the terminal.

The ride to the train station was uneventful, and we all began to calm down a bit, but once we were deposited outside the large building, I knew I was lost again. I had tickets, but I didn't know where to go or what to do. We went inside; it was just a big, impersonal train station, and I couldn't understand the signs. I felt like crying again, and this time the lump in my throat was harder to clear. I looked at the tickets, and turned them over. And I saw, written on the back, in neat, European-style handwriting, the instructions to get to the proper train track.

Soon we were all standing on a platform awaiting the train that would take us to where my husband's base was located. A train pulled in, and I started to get all our luggage, and, of course, the three children, aboard. It took several trips, and by the time I was finished, I was exhausted.

We had barely sat down, however, when I looked out the window, and there was the gentleman who had helped me with the phone and train tickets. Calmly he walked into the car and said, "Excuse me, but you are on the wrong train. Your train will arrive after this one leaves. This train is going elsewhere. You must get off right now." And he proceeded to pick up two heavy suitcases and three shoulder bags as if they were empty, and started for the exit.

I remember I followed him as if I were in a daze. I wondered where he had come from. Had he followed us to the train station?

Together we waited for the right train. I had thanked him sincerely for his help and he had replied, "Quite all right, Madam, quite all right," but said little else. He wasn't unfriendly at all, just not the talkative sort.

When the train arrived, he settled me, the children, and our belongings in our seats, and spoke to the conductor privately. "The conductor speaks some English, Madam," he said politely. "He will assist you at your destination."

And then, since the train was about to pull out, he waved a little, and headed toward the exit, which was in plain view. I opened the window and leaned out, so that I could thank him again once he was back on the platform.

But he never came out the exit! I had seen him open the door and leave the coach -- and there was no other place for him to go. He just disappeared!

Absolutely astonished, I looked up and down the platform; then I went across the aisle and did the same. But there was no one around! The only people on the platform were white, and he had been black, like me and my family.

I sat back down as the train moved out of the station. The children fell asleep, exhausted, but I was too nervous to relax, even though the conductor had told me our stop was not for nearly two hours.

Eventually, however, I did sleep, and I slept deeply, for a long time. Then, suddenly, I heard a voice saying, "Wake up! Wake up!" I think I only heard it in my mind or in my dream, but it was the voice of the helpful stranger, that I'm sure of. I sat up, but he wasn't there. However, the train was pulling into our station.

I roused the kids, and with the help of the conductor got the baggage and all onto the platform. A young American soldier came up to me and said that my husband had asked him to meet me. The odyssey was over.

Later, at my husband's bedside, I told him my story. "He sure was a guardian angel to you and the kids," he said. And you know, I believe he was right -- literally. God knew we needed help after Alex broke his ankle, and sent His angel to guide us until we could be reunited at the hospital. Praise God!

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