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I want to continue my angel thread for a while. I’m excited that for this blog it can be a roter Faden, literally a red thread, or a recurring theme. Often, when German speakers refer to a roter Faden in their lives, they mean that their life is strongly influenced by fate. That is very likely why my all-time favorite movie is Three Colors: Red by Krzysztof Kieślowski. I’ve seen it 12 times. Each time I discover something new.

Ben and Ellen

My two angels

As I wrote yesterday, angels have been a recurring theme in my life. Thinking about them lifted my feet on my two-mile walk home yesterday from work. I felt winged!

So today I tried to remember my earliest experience with an angel. From what I know it was one of my mother’s colleagues, a fellow English teacher named Mary. I recall snippets about Mary — she was elderly when at that time my mother was quite young, she wore a reddish wig, she had what struck me at the time as a high-pitched but aristocratic voice, she loved eggplants and gave my family plenty of them.

I remember saving early for college. I was such a strange kid, thinking way too early about becoming a writer and somehow knowing that a college education would help. Mary learned this from my mother and contributed to my college fund! When you are young, you often take things for granted, like all the eggplant Mary would give our family, the visits Mutti made with my sister and me to Mary in her lovely but sad home, Mary’s asking us questions about school, her abundant kindness. Strangely, even as a child, I felt that something in Mary’s voice was a little unsettling as beautifully as she spoke.

One day the visits stopped. Mary had cancer. From my child’s memory, soon after I learned what cancer was, Mary died. I know there is so much about Mary I don’t know and perhaps she would not want me to know. One of many reasons why my mother is beloved is that people found they could open up to her and trust her. Mutti has carefully shared what she needs to share with me and her other children, but she honors the many secrets people have bestowed upon her. I will likely not ask Mutti about Mary.

But when I walk home this evening, I will think about Mary and thank her. From what I understand, Mary was patient, and I have a hunch she won’t mind hearing a few words from me now, thanking her for starting my path to college and for inspiring me with all her giving.

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