I thought this was very inspirational.
Angels come in many forms
By Sharon Swanepoel The Loganville Tribune
Published December 16, 2005
This week we have been getting letters to Santa from local school children for publication next week. While the vast majority of them are typical requests to Santa for the usual hot-ticket items, there were a few that really tug at your heartstrings. It takes the simple words of children to remind us that Christmas isn’t necessarily a joyful season for everyone. Since last Christmas we have been through the tsunami, earthquakes, several major hurricanes, the ongoing war and every day people suffer tragedy through death, sickness, car accidents, loss of a job, relationship breakups — the list goes on. The Christmas season heightens emotions and enhances the loss for people who are already suffering through difficulties, either emotional or financial. But it also brings home the inherent goodness of people. There are so many people who really make the Christmas season about helping others. From charity organizations, civic groups, church organizations, and just individual people, it is sometimes almost as though there aren’t enough people in need to satisfy the outreach of kindness and humanity. Obviously that isn’t really the case and there are always those who slip through the cracks, but it certainly isn’t because nobody cares. Not in this community. We could fill our pages with organizations trying to improve the quality of life for local residents, especially during the Christmas season. Angels truly do come in many different forms.I found this out myself several years ago after losing my mother, a very special, gentle soul whose life lessons will live on as long as she has descendants who remember her. I knew that first Christmas without her was going to be tough. During that Thanksgiving weekend I moved from the Mews in Loganville to a new house in Grayson. It was a particularly cold winter and a stray black cat had been hanging around the apartment during the move. He was the ugliest cat I had ever seen, a jet-black crippled Manx that had been tortured and tormented, de-clawed and deserted, thrown out and left to fend for himself. I knew that he wouldn’t survive the winter without the food or warm bedding that I had put out for him, so I took him with me. I didn’t expect him to make it through Christmas, but he did. In fact he prospered, gaining strength and confidence with each day, eventually forcing the other two cats in the house to accept him despite their initial resistance. It was only in mid-January that I realized that my concern for him had carried me through what would have undoubtedly been a very difficult Christmas. That was when I named him Gabriel. To me he was an angel and for the remaining five years of his life his blessings kept coming. Whenever I felt under-appreciated and aware that I could no longer look to my mother for that unconditional validation, he would be there at my feet, letting me know that at least to him, I was absolutely everything. Gabriel died last year, eventually succumbing to a kidney disease, but I will never go through a Christmas without remembering how much I miss my mother, and how Gabriel carried me through that first Christmas without her. He was the perfect reminder of her unconditional love.