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The kindness of a stranger or a true guardian angel?
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At the age of 13 my parents allowed me to go visit relatives in Florida on Christmas break.
Not exactly the first time traveling to Florida, we went every year but as a family.
My first trip by myself from Ohio to Florida, riding the Greyhound bus, a ride that normally should have been only 18 hours, turned into a 25-hour trip — I will never forget.
The day of the departure, I spent with my mother. We had lunch together after picking up a few last minute items for the trip. She went over the rules with me I figured for about the 100th time.
“When time to change buses, pay attention and listen and do not leave the bus terminal, when it stops for a lay over.”
 This was just a couple of the long list of precautions that were vital for me to understand or she was not going to let me get on that bus.
What’s so special about this trip? I was traveling by myself. It made me feel independent.
I have to admit it was difficult for me to concentrate on anything else, but I tell you — my mother saw my mind was wondering off during our talk and she almost lost it on me.
In front of God and everyone in the restaurant, she tapped the table and said to me, “If you don’t take this serious, I’ll cancel the trip.”
I snapped back into the conversation, pleading with her and apologizing for drifting off.
As the evening approached my mother had packed a backpack full of snacks, cold fried chicken, grapes, and a slice of pound cake.
Which wasn’t complete without my American Girl magazine, my find the word pocket book and my cassette player.
At the bus station as we said our goodbyes it was visibly clear to me that my parents weren’t comfortable about letting me go on this trip.
 My father stood next to me humming, which was a comfort to me, I remember him placing his hand on my one shoulder reminding me that my uncle would be picking me up at the bus station.
 My mother on the other hand was silent and at the last minute handed me an index card with phone numbers written on it. The index card contained every phone number of every relative that lived between Ohio and Florida.
I stuffed the phone numbers in my backpack, kissed my parents, and boarded the bus.
Now in my mind I was going to be okay.
I found a seat, took a final look out the window, I could see my parents standing there looking worried.
I turned away from the window fearing that their outward appearance of turbulence would transfer to me. I wasn’t swift enough.
 At that moment, it hit me: “Have I lost my mind”
A little too late to ask the bus driver to take me back, but believe me I was thinking about it.
Sitting there by myself, the bus was dark and a bit breezy. I was imagining myself walking up to the bus driver and telling him I changed my mind, I want to go back.
I’m not sure what kept me in my seat.
I checked my backpack again to make sure I had the phone numbers —  didn’t want to lose that.
As I sat thinking of ways to calm myself, I hauled out my tape cassette player and placed my earphones in and thought to myself. —  “All I need to do is make it through till morning then I’ll be just fine”

Why did she sit by me?
As we reached Cincinnati, I noticed the weather was changing fast; it was thick, wet snow coming down. The kind that sticks to the telephone wires and tree branches that can make even the big branches snap.
My next stop was Tennessee to change buses. Changing the bus here was easy; I did what my mother told me. Again the bus wasn’t full, I felt a little better about myself, checked my backpack one more time to make sure I had those phone numbers.
Just when I thought I’d be sitting by myself— this little old woman, asked if I would mind if she sat with me.
Respectfully, I smiled.
 I looked around and noticed that the bus had plenty of empty seats. I thought to myself, “Why me!”
Before I could say anything she sat down, introduced herself, and immediately began a conversation as if we knew each other.
Her smile was constant and contagious, her perfume was an aroma of peppermint and vanilla, and her clothes were of a color of gray and silver as a thick Tennessee fog.
I never noticed how much the weather was changing for the worse.
After a while our conversations became interesting. She talked of her children and grandchildren, her travels with her husband and her home in the country.
  A retired school teacher with a passion for teaching and her devotion to God and church was inspiring.   Captivated by her stories of her life, I felt privileged and honored that she sat with me.
When we reached midway into Tennessee, the snow was making the roads treacherously dangerous. The driver soon announced that we would have to pull over at the rest stop for awhile until the roads were plowed.
At that moment I began to slip into panic mode, I watched out the window as trucks and cars began to fill in the entire parking lot one after the other, as if they were attached by a rope.

‘You’re not afraid of a little snow?’
Checked my backpack for those phone numbers again. I don’t know what good the phone numbers would have done unless they could have turned into a magic snow shovel.
She snapped her fingers to get my attention and with no great concern of the weather she asked me “you’re not afraid of a little snow?”
We decided to go stretch our legs. I escorted her through the unplowed parking lot to the rest room.
As I waited, I called my uncle in Florida to let him know of the delay. Assuring him I was fine, he said he would call my parents to let them know.
Peering out the window I watched the bus visually disappear in blizzard like condition.
We both found our way to some hot chocolate and slowly proceeded back to the bus.
We held on to each other, arm in arm,  slipping and sliding a bit and trying not to spill the hot chocolate, it seemed the walk back to the bus was longer than when we set out.
When we finally reached the bus, she startled me for a moment by asking, if we were on the right bus.
 She was just checking to see if I was paying attention.
We sat down; she pulled out a couple of peppermints, convincing me that it would make the hot chocolate taste better.
I shared my cold fried chicken, grapes, and slice of pound cake.
It was like a picnic with a good friend.
We played tic, tac, toe — we talked of music.

Feels she was truly blessed
Five hours had past during that time the snow plow trucks were in the process of clearing the parking lot and cars and trucks were proceeding back onto the highway.
As we reached Alabama, I knew this is where we would go our separate ways.
On the ride in, we where both silent, I’m not sure what she was thinking but I was going to miss her. I felt like there was something I wanted to say but, it wasn’t coming to me.
As we reached the terminal she reached for my hand, squeezed it tight “I still couldn’t think of the words to say what I was feeling”.
When the bus came to a stop she hugged me and speaking softly said “Remember me”.
All I could say was “Thank you, I will.”
As we stepped off the bus, I heard her say “There they are!”
And that’s the last I saw of her.
 I strived to see where she walked off to. But with already being late, my best bet was to find out what bus I should be taking out of here to reach Florida. Luckily the bus I transferred to would take me straight to my destination.
My ride into Florida, I spent in solace.
When I reached my destination, my uncle and aunt were there to welcome me.
I told them of my adventure and my friend. They agreed that I was blessed to have sat with someone that was so caring.
That’s the word — “Blessed”
That’s what I was feeling “Blessed”.
I’d like to think that I may have experienced an intervention of a guardian angel.
God knew I would need someone to watch over me, and there she was.
I will always remember her.