Friday, January 13, 2012

Little Hurricanes


And there he goes. Our son swept in from London bearing gifts from his girlfriend, and some from him too, jars of spa goodies and a polished stone with mystic properties for me, English chocolates and a recipe journal for his sister, and a Union Jack apron and Arsenal scarf for his dad, who donned them immediately and then walked around the house wearing them all night. Love that man. Then our boy wanted to show his dad an amazing play he'd seen by Arsenal striker Thierry Henry (did I mention they are Arsenal soccer fans?). There they are You Tubing the play, with my daughter, who had settled down to homework because she has midterms this week, peering around. As the evening went on our intrepid traveler told us about attending a performance of Robin Hood at the renovated Globe theater in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare's town, and how the stage sloped up toward the back till it was almost vertical, and how there was a real pond in the middle of the set, and everything else fantastic and fond about his trip. 


Our boy swept out again at 7 a.m. this morning to catch the 8 a.m. bus back to his college so he can make his 4 p.m. track practice. I hugged him and hugged my husband who had offered to drive him to the bus station and hugged my girl who left at the same time for school. Then I came back into my room in the quiet house and sat on my bed looking at the photo of my children that is framed on my side table. They were 8 and 5, and my son was reading the Andrew Salkey book Hurricane to his sister and I swear it was just yesterday.

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Here's what else happened yesterday. This is such a New York story, one that could have had many endings. My daughter got off the subway at her stop last night and was walking along the platform to the exit when she saw two small children, she thought they were about 4 and 5, banging on the closing door of the train and screaming "Open the door!" At the window was an Indian woman in a bright sari, her face a mask of horror as she banged on the glass from inside the train. The train pulled away, leaving the two children running alongside it on the platform, the little girl howling, the little boy in frantic silence. My daughter went over to them and guided them from the edge of the platform and asked them what was wrong. Apparently they were traveling with their mother who had not managed to get off the train before the doors closed.

My daughter says she knew what she had to do because she remembered me telling her when she was small that if this ever happened to her, she should find an older lady who would stay with her until I came back to find her. She said to the children, "Don't worry, your mom will come back for you. I'll stay with you till she gets here." The girl sobbed and sobbed and the boy stared at her in terror and didn't utter a word. A man came up and asked if he could help. My daughter said everything was okay and he walked away. An older woman came up and told the children sternly that all this crying was not necessary. My daughter looked at her in disbelief. "Really?" she said, telling me the story, her voice full of 17-year-old attitude and conviction. "Did that women really think tears were not a completely appropriate reaction for a 5 year-old-girl who was lost in a subway at night?" The woman walked away.

Another woman, thirtyish, came over. She said she had children the same age and offered to stay with my daughter and the two lost children until their mother returned. Then the subway booth agent, alerted by the little girl's screaming sobs, appeared. When the situation was explained, he went back to the booth and called the conductor of the train that had just left the station. He then told my daughter and the woman that the children's mother was waiting for them at the next stop, to put the children on the train and she would meet them. My daughter said, "I'll go with them." The woman said, "I'll go too."

So they took the two children to the next stop where their mother fell on them with tears and hugs as soon as the subway doors opened. My daughter and the woman quietly walked away. They had to exit the station and cross the street and pay another fare to get to the train that would take them back downtown. The children's mother did not even see them. Perhaps she thought the children arrived alone. It doesn't matter. She may not have thanked my daughter and the woman, but I know, and my daughter knows, that they were there for those lost children last night. They helped this New York story have a happily-ever-after ending.

40 comments:

  1. This is the New York I love and remember. Brava for your beautiful daughter for keeping it alive. There are angels among us. I believe it.
    xxoo

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    1. Rebecca, she is an angel. I told her that. I said, you were the angel in those kids lives today. she's such a light. thank you for seeing it. xoxoxoxo

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  2. And that is one of those stories where forever and ever, those children will remember that an angel helped them and comforted them and took them to their mother and they will think, "And then she just disappeared..."
    Beautiful.

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    1. Ms. Moon, yes, i thought the same thing! and then she just disappeared. and came home to her mama. lucky me!

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  3. Oh, I love your daughter. And your son. And your husband. And of course you!

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  4. When people do good things it always brings tears to my eyes. Yay! for you daughter!! Also enjoyed the start of the post where you talk about looking at the photo from years ago. My son turns 30 today so I am doing that mentally today. Time just passes so fast.

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    1. Kristin, happy birthday to your son! And to you, his beautiful mama.

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  5. I love every bit of this post. As a mom, please thank your daughter for me.

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  6. There's something wonderful about the anonymity---the little ones have undoubtedly described to their mother the gentle souls who came to help them and accompanied them on the train to her. A story of goodness incarnate.

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    1. A, the anonymity is what makes it such a new york story!

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  7. There are so many times in life when people are at the wrong place and wrong time, it is good to hear when the opposite occurs and people can and do help. You have taught your daughter well, obviously. She is a great example to others and one those kids may remember.

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    1. e, the right place at the right time, may it always be thus! she is a good girl.

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  8. the subway story gives me chills. those poor children must have been terrified. God bless your daughter!

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  9. I love your blog. Your family.
    Your heart.
    xoxoox

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    1. sweet deb, i love you back! i love when you come around. xoxo

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  10. Why dear lady, do you always make me tear up? Clearly you have an Angel living in your home. I love that she knew exactly what she should do to offer comfort to those poor little kids. You've done an amazing job raising amazing kids. And the boy bearing gifts? How sweet is he?! XO

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    1. Dear Denise, I know any of your angels would have done the same! hugs, friend.

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  11. You, your children , your husband, your life. This is what is good and strong and decent about America. I love you all!!!

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    1. Ah, Kathleen, thank you for that. I'll take it. hugs.

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  12. Awwwwwwwww -- that gave me chills -- not the soccer part! :)

    Your daughter is just one helluva of a girl.

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    1. Elizabeth, i marvel at her huge heart and spirit of joy. she is a gift for sure. love.

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  13. What a great story! Bravo for your daughter and her dedication. I often wondered what happened on the subway when parents were separated from their children -- it's so easy to see how it could happen.

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    1. Steve, true story: When I first visited new york as a 5 year old, my mom was so scared to lose me on the subway she told me a story about her friend who on a crowded platform was herded into one car while trying to reach her daughter who was herded into another car. she said that woman never saw her daughter again. swear to god, she told me this. was she trying to scare me into hanging onto her hand for dear life? i have to believe the story was true but it haunted my young heart. that is why i gave my children subway contingency plans when they were young, in case this should ever happen to them. it never did, and yet it came in handy this week! life is so odd. btw i'm loving your photography class photos!

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  14. Oh Angella you made me cry!
    Your amazing beautiful sweet daughter, Bless her loving heart.
    I'm proud of her & she isn't mine. You've raised a wonderful compassionate young woman.
    My youngest daughter was at the bus station(depot)
    waiting to get on the bus & there were two precious little girls of Asian descent waiting to.
    A young man/fool started to abuse the little girls & told them to let the Australians on the bus first.
    He was very rude & screaming at these little ones.
    My daughter turned & told him to leave them alone he then threatened to hit my girl.
    A large man intervened & the bus driver wouldn't let him on.
    My poor girl was terrified but held it together.
    I was very proud of her.

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    1. Gabs, and God bless your girl, too. She is very brave and a compassionate soul. I am proud of your girl too

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  15. This is the daughter you raised. This is why there's no reason, none what's so ever as to why you should be afraid of letting her go in this world. She's compassionate, but she's also a badass who will stand up for herself and others. And she's have you, her dad, her brother, her cousins and friends to run to if needed, because you've provided a good support system for her.
    I'm amazed by her, but you did that. This is what I want to accomplish when I have kids one day...

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    1. Miss A, i know your kids will be excellent badass human beings! because you are! love.

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  16. I wish you'd be everyone's mother, so we'd all be as wonderful as your kids are.

    You could save the world that way.

    Instead of just a tiny corner of it.


    I am so proud of you, and so glad to know you.


    yrs-

    Scott

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    1. Scott, you give me too much credit. truly. my kids came here the way they are, and they have their dad who tempers me, and even though i was never really good at getting out the way when i needed to/ need to, they have managed. i am glad to know you too, dear Scott. love to you.

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  17. What a wonderful story! How impressive of her to remember your instructions and take charge of the situation, good for her (and you).

    How nice of your son to think of you all and bring back thoughtful presents. Having such a very long distance relationship at his age must be simultaneously exciting and torturous.

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    1. dear ellen, i was impressed that she took that early instruction and applied it so many years later. my paranoia did some good! although i think she would have known what to do regardless. and the gifts were from both my son and his girlfriend. i added that to the post. it was indeed sweet of them to think of us! how are you, dear friend? i hope the year's going well for you and greg. love.

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  18. Oh dear Angella, my heart was racing when I read your daughter's New York story but I KNEW that your daughter would make sure that those children would be reunited with their mother~ With her presence, there was NO other way that this story could have turned out. And yes, those children will forever remember the beautiful angel who rescued them and returned them safely to their mother. And she will forever say, "What angel?", but they will always know...

    She is going to be just fine out in the world, just fine. You have done your job very, very well. And I loved the photo of your husband wearing his gifts from your son and his girlfriend. THAT is precious:)

    Lots of love, always,
    Deb

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    1. Darling Debra, thank you, dear friend.

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  19. Absolutely awesome story! I ended up hearing while searching for pictures of an Arsenal scarf, and I'm so glad I clicked on the picture and found your blog.

    Be blessed!

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  20. I've loved poking around on your blog today, and when I came to this story about your daughter and the role she played for those children, I was moved. Your family is extraordinary, and they are beautiful, too. In all ways. I hope your 92 year old mom had a great birthday. She looks so loving and so loved. Thank you for coming to meet Alice. I'm really glad I came here.

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