By Sean Dietrich
Yesterday I received several emails after I mentioned my guardian angel, Bud, in a recent column. One of the emails read: “Are you joking about your angel, or are you for real?” Another read: “Tell us about Bud!” And yet another urgent email read: “Cure male pattern baldness in 30 days! GUARANTEED!”
So let me set the record straight. Yes. I have a guardian angel, and yes, his name is Bud. I never intended to talk about him publicly. But I will tell you about him.
It all started with my granny, who was an extremely bossy woman. And I mean very bossy. EVERYONE obeyed my granny. And I mean everyone. That’s just how she was.
When she wanted a 14-metric-ton birdbath moved, it was moved. When she told you to take your shoes off the coffee table, you did. When she told my retired grandfather to quit loafing around the house, he found a part-time job faster than you could say George Beverly Shea.
My grandmother died on a sunny day, attached to a ventilator. The commanding four-foot-eleven woman with the lazy eye was only 69 when she entered Glory. Cancer is a vicious killer. The Winston filter-tips didn’t help, either.
My mother left the funeral service without speaking. She drove straight across town to my granny’s vacant single-wide trailer. She started cleaning furiously to keep herself from crying. In a few moments she was scrubbing baseboards and beating rugs, but it didn’t work. Tears dripped from her chin.
The mobile home was filled with faded Bibles, religious leaflets, mounding ashtrays and embroidered scripture wall-hangings. One of these hangings read:
“Angels shall bear thee up in thy hands lest thou dash thy foot against a stone…”
A few days later, my mother was holding that embroidered piece when she told me she was going to give me a gift. She made me sit still and explained that she was giving me a guardian angel.
My first question was who was going to feed it and take the angel for walks. Mama said it didn’t work that way and that heavenly beings walked themselves and didn’t need to potty like Labradors.
Then we bowed our heads, and I could hear my mother praying and crying. When it was over, she blew her nose loudly. And even though I was a toddler, I held her close.
Since then I’ve had an angel who I can’t get rid of. He’s invisible and he tags along everywhere. I named him “Bud” when I was 13 because I was trying to be clever. And the name stuck.
Throughout most of my life, however, Bud was more of a running joke than anything. I would talk about him in various beer joints, and occasionally order him adult beverages for cheap laughs. People got a kick out of this, although it was never anything serious.
But in my late 20s I starkly discovered that angels were no joke. This happened when I was driving on I-65 near Georgiana, Alabama, cruising 70 miles per hour. It was sunny. The radio played.
A Chevy rammed me from behind. The driver was asleep behind the wheel and lost control. The impact sent my truck fishtailing into the opposite lane. Soon I was speeding toward an oncoming tractor trailer. There was nothing I could do. I closed my eyes. I screamed. I did not expect to survive.
But there was no impact.
What happened next has never been totally clear to me. All I know is that I awoke in a mangled vehicle, virtually unharmed. I crawled out of the wreckage, blood seeping from my brow, in such a state of shock that I couldn’t even tell the paramedics my name. When the officer glanced at my totaled vehicle, he said, “Man, somebody’s looking out for you.”
That’s when I started thinking, hey, this angel business is no laughing matter.
A few years later, my wife and I were asleep in our 28-foot trailer home. It was 1:30 a.m. when I felt a warm hand jostle me awake. I ignored the nudge and rolled over. It happened again.
“Quit!” I mumbled.
“Sean,” I thought I heard a voice say.
I thought my wife was messing with me. But when I opened my eyes she was snoring. I immediately freaked out. I thought a serial killer must have broken into our home and was going to hack us into human Chex Mix with an axe. Who else could’ve been touching me and saying my name?
I leapt out of bed on red alert. That’s when I smelled rotten eggs and realized that I was dizzy for some reason. I staggered into the kitchen to find that our oven had a gas leak. Our entire place was filled with carbon monoxide.
I started shouting. My wife and I stumbled out of the home wearing only our skivvies. And I’m lucky to be alive and writing this now.
So yes, I believe in guardian angels. And it’s ironic because during the holidays everyone talks about angels a lot. We sing about them, dangle them from Christmas trees and they’re even on the Hallmark Channel for crying out loud. But few actually believe in them. And when the season ends angels are usually forgotten.
But that’s okay, Bud assures me. He says angels don’t do it for publicity. Although sometimes I wonder why they do it. In how many instances could my life have been extinguished, but wasn’t? How many times have I almost been ruined, but was spared? Why do unseen protectors watch over humans when they could be doing anything else?
But then I remember why Bud does these things.
Because of a short bossy woman Up There who loves me very much.