All my 84 years, I’ve believed in angels. From the time I could be read to, my mother shared the Bible stories of when they appeared. And then there was another story, a special family story, that my mother told me many times. It wasn’t nearly as old as those Bible stories, but we knew it was every bit as true. Because it was a story about my own grandmother, back in 1898.
Chicago, at the end of the nineteenth century, was not an easy place for a young couple without much money. My grandpa had a job at an iron foundry. Long hours, hard work, poor pay. At home my grandmother cared for their three young children: two sons, Henry and Stanley, and little Angela.
Grandpa dreamed of moving his family to Canada, where a man who was willing to homestead the flat, grassy prairie would get 160 acres to call his own. “Every eighteen-year-old male child can increase the size of the homestead,” he read to Grandma from the paper one morning. “Henry and Stanley aren’t old enough now, but one day…”
They began saving money and dreaming of the move north. Then little Angela took sick. Only a toddler, Angela was the apple of everyone’s eye, with her golden curls and rosy red cheeks. Now those cheeks were flushed with fever, and her curls spread out on a pillow as she fought for her life.