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God-wink at the Nail Salon

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

For more stories from Our High Places, click here Story by Michele (with one L) Rose

This afternoon I went to get a pedicure/manicure. I guess going to nail salon during the middle of a weekday is the best time because there was no waiting. In fact, there were only two patrons present. I was told to sit next to next to an elderly woman whose feet were already soaking in water and whose nose was in a paperback. I scooted into a massage chair, slipped off my sandals, and made myself comfortable. After I lowered my feet in the vibrating warm blue water, I glanced over at the legs belonging to the customer right next to me. That’s when I saw it.

An angel. Through the lace-like purplish veins on tanned and weathered skin, I saw a tattoo. Among varicose veins and bruised skin there was a girl with angel wings.

I said, “Is that an angel?”

The moment the woman looked up and away from her book to look at me, I saw that she was much older than I originally thought. I nodded toward her leg. I repeated, “Is that an angel?” Then she followed the direction of my eyes.

A small smile played on her lips as she replied, “The Angel of Hope.” Her voice was warm and genuine.

I gazed at the old woman next to me as she went back to her book. I had never heard of this angel before. So I used my cellphone to google information. The cellphone has become an essential device for everybody. One of the cool things about a cellphone is that it's easy to surf the internet.

According to Angela's House this angel is a symbol for parents who have endured the death of a child and represents a way to honor our children. Our children will live in our hearts and lives forever. The website said that our children live through us, and their lives can touch many others through us. It went on to say parents need to feel hope that they will survive and move on, and that their children will never be forgotten.

There is no “worst part” when you lose a child. It is all pain, misery, anguish, and torture. I know because I lost my 33-year-old son, on April 16, 2014, during a boating accident. Andrew Rose was missing for 22 days after a boat he was on capsized in Lake Erie. There were three other occupants when the boat flipped forward under circumstances that are still not clear. All four kids didn’t come home, they all drowned. How is it conceivable that I was there when my son entered this world, but couldn’t as much as say “goodbye” before he left it? When you meet grief, you learn something not everyone knows: it never leaves. Grief’s ache remains, forever reminding you of what you’ve lost.

Anyhow, I contemplated how to ask, but then decided to just come right out and ask. This is not something that I would normally do…ask a complete stranger…a question of this kind.

“Did you lose a child?”

“No,” she answered. Perhaps she sensed my curiosity, because she immediately added, “I just thought she was beautiful and wanted the tattoo.”

Then as if it wasn't against her nature to speak to common strangers, she began to share glimpses of her life with me: married to man who had been in the US Navy for 24 years, had one 45-year-old son, one 24-year-old grandchild. I listened as I watched her blue eyes through her dark brown eyeglasses. Her dyed short-cropped hair matched the color of her spectacles. The map of wrinkles on her face told of a most incredible journey.

I glanced at her petite hands with wrinkles and folds of skin that were now so pronounced it was hard to tell what her hands must have looked like as a young woman. Yet her nails were nicely manicured.

Thoughtfully she spoke of her deep love for her husband. She described how he went to college after the Navy, then went on to get a medical degree, completed a residency, was a doctor until retirement.

When her pedicure was finished, she slipped out of the massage chair, and then stood next to me. “It was nice talking to you dear.”

I smiled as I watched her make her way to the front door. She looked back at me and waved. A passing thought came to me: I realized that I didn't even know her name.

In the end it didn't matter. She left me with something more. Later I learned that all across the United States, parents who have lost children are putting together Angel of Hope memorial gardens in honor of their loved ones. The idea is simple: a serene statue of an angel rests among the trees in a park, giving a space for families to sit and think about their children. I imagine these memorial gardens to be peaceful, tranquil places.

I hope others can find comfort and peace by visiting any one of these lovely Angel of Hope statues while remembering their loved ones.

For more stories from Our High Places, click here


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