Saturday, July 31, 2010

Do You Believe in Angels?

A few weeks back, we planned to meet up with another FS family, one we knew through blogging but hadn't actually met. (I won't tell you who they are, but her first initial is "A" and he is better known by his nickname, "Fits Crap in Minivan.")

We were going to meet at our hotel one afternoon. Afternoons, as you will know if you have kids, are fraught with danger, because you never know if your child will be in pre-dinner meltdown mode or post-nap snuggly mode. So I warned the kids in advance: "We are going to the hotel courtyard to meet a new family. He works with daddy, and so you MUST behave, or face dire consequences." With such a threat in place, we headed down to the courtyard to meet A and her husband.

I was armed with sparkling water (no sugar) and pretzels (again, no sugar). I also brought bubbles (but no wand, duh) and some sort of battery-powered kid toys (but no screwdriver to open the battery compartments, again, duh).

We talked for quite awhile. Mr. Fitscrap and Bart discussed DSS and RSO, ATA and WFO, while A and I chatted about UAB, POVs, CLOs and REOs. That sorta important government stuff. (EF'M, you would've loved it.)

All the while, the kids ran around, shouting and playing and generally being quite good, if a bit loud. No matter though, because we were the only ones in the courtyard.


The door opened, and an older gentleman walked into the courtyard, book under his arm, prim wife beside him. They looked at the kids, and the wife gave the husband a knowing look. He disappeared inside, and my heart sank. He's going to complain about noisy kids on the patio, I thought. Grumpy old guy. We kept chatting, but I was on edge, waiting for the hotel staff to come kick us out.

The man returned, carrying a small bag. He sat at the table behind us and set his book aside. Then he reached into the bag and pulled out a pile of colorful somethings. He proceeded to turn those bits of color into balloon animals for my kids. He made puppies for the girls and swords for the boys, while his wife looked on, smiling now. He made a purple braclet for Ainsley and a hat for Shay. He kept going for thirty minutes or so, creating these magical toys while my kids looked on. Once they were happily running around hitting each other over the head with a near-endless supply of swords, he put the bag away and started to read his book. Ainsley pulled up a chair at his table and stared at him in wonder. Shay interrupted his reading to do a juggling demonstration, which the man enthusiastically applauded.

We four, the Fitscraps, my husband and I, continued to chat as if nothing unusual was happening. But I tell you: the sun got sunnier when that gentleman appeared on the patio with his bag of balloons. The birds chirped; the flowers grew. Even the government acronyms became clearer.

Sometimes, just when you least expect it, God throws an angel down to walk the earth beside you. I got my angel that day.


ForeignObsession said... [Reply]

Now that is special. That's nice!

Jill said... [Reply]

Lucky you... lucky lucky you. Apparently I'm the only one who hasn't had the privilege of meeting up with her - OR with you and the other FS family who we all chat with when it's stuff related to our husband's jobs. Maybe one day I'll get to come to the party...

Until then, I just say lucky you!

Jen said... [Reply]

Oh, that's just awesome! Those little unexpected delights really can just make one's day...

Anonymous said... [Reply]

That is such a great story... I love when what you THINK is going to happen turns into something even better ...

What a cool guy to carry around balloons!!

Jen Ambrose said... [Reply]

Isn't it just amazing how people can still suprise you. God bless that wonderful man. What a gift your families and he was to one another.

Betsy said... [Reply]

What a wonderful story! I just love it when God puts people like that in our path.

Sara said... [Reply]

Aww....that's so great!

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Actions speak louder than words.............................................................

Bfiles said... [Reply]

how fun is that! And I truly love the ADA family nickname...

A Daring Adventure said... [Reply]

Oh my goodness, Donna.

To answer the question of your post's title: I ABSOLUTELY believe in angels. Let me name the ones *we* saw that afternoon:

1.) Your children.

Perfect. Angels.

With which of your children do I begin?

How about what a treat it was to have Shay juggle for us IN PERSON? Reminiscent of:

Except LIVE? Or how clever and witty Shay is in conversation?

Or how Kyra was so incredibly beautiful, friendly and sweet that she bubbled about, laughing and chatting and being so charming?

Or how Aidan was so well behaved that it was literally as though he Wasn't. Even. There?

But then there's Ainsley - with her cherubic curls and smile - she's SO beautiful and sweet that she's literally something straight out of a Victorian painting.

Yes, your children were Perfect. Angels.

But they weren't the ONLY angels there, for let's not forget:

2.) You.

My first impression of you was total awe at how clever you are as a mother. When MY boys were little, it would never in a million years have dawned on me to bring snacks and toys to entertain and feed them when meeting up with people.

My next impression of you was how incredibly honest, open, and friendly you are. Not only was it insanely kind of you all (SO much more experienced a State family) to meet with us, but you shared from your heart - with candor and humor - and for all of it, we are incredibly grateful.

I was so nervous to meet you. You're such an amazing writer. Every single blog post of yours is publication-worthy. That and I have been reading (and learning from) your blog (together with Jill's and Jen D's) for many, many years. So to meet you was just... amazing.

What also left me in awe was when...

3.) Bart

Met us, also, and not only that, but (You know this is coming, Donna, don't you? Brace yourself.) when I asked him what the secret has been to his AMAZING career success, he...

(... What did he do, Donna?...)

...he looked RIGHT. AT. YOU. And, with love and respect in his eyes, he laid his career success at your feet. Then he proceeded to tell us how...

-Your grace
-The flexibility you've graciously given with bidding choices
- Your kind and generous treatment of other Foreign Service families
- Your service and help that you have given to others at post
- Your opening your home to others in the way of entertaining
- Your own hard work and wonderful corridor reputation everywhere you've worked overseas

Have been what helped his career be so staggeringly successful.

Simply put: You, Donna, are the Foreign Service wife that I wish to be.

Your kindness, your grace, your warmth... your service to others and your own family... your husband's public praise of you... your kindness towards me and my family... the wonderful conversations we had... they take my breath away.

You opened the door with this blog post. I walked through it with a marching band.

Yes, Donna, there were angels there the day your family met with ours. But each and every one of them had the last name of Gorman.

Thank you for the time your family shared with us. Thank you for your (and Bart's) kindness. Thank you for your blog. And for being on Facebook.

(And Balloon Dude? I'm totally thrilled that he was there, because his balloon works of art made your children so very happy. Just watching them play with those balloons was adorable!)

David L. said... [Reply]

Normally, I would say No, not so much in angels. But then a stranger comes down and makes government acronyms clearer by his mere prescense...that has to be something angelic.

Sara said... [Reply]

Ok, after reading the comment from Kolbi, I agree with her in that you're the FS wife I want to be.

Please. Write your own stuff.