Love is stronger than death. On August 23, 2020, I had an encounter that would further concede this point for me. Before I share what happened, it is important to share with you the backstory…
I am an only child and an only grandchild. Throughout my life, I was always told that I was “spoiled.” After maturing and understanding the depth of love and the magnitude of how I have been loved, now I would quickly redirect the conversation. No, not spoiled but, rather, loved. My mother and my grandmother were awesome, powerful forces in my life, and my father was always close even after he and my mother divorced when I was 2 years old.
My grandmother was a business owner. In fact, she was one of only two women business owners in our community. She was strong, resilient, and operated her dry-cleaning business for over 50 years. Edna Mae Maynard had an eighth-grade education, but in the words of the accountant I hired to help with the business taxes, she was also a “shrewd businesswoman.” My grandmother’s success was a matter of survival, and because of her sacrifices, my success is a matter of choice.
My mother poured her very life into me and my life. I never had to wonder whether I was protected or not. I knew that my mother always had my back and my best interests at heart. Everybody that knew her could attest to that fact. If you wanted a problem with Georgia Mae Haile, mess with her daughter. Her love for me was undeniable—yes, even after death.
In November 2005, my mother and my grandmother passed away. Seventeen days apart to be exact. I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, and to say that I was devastated would be an understatement. Over the years, whenever my heart has been heavy or I’ve accomplished something great in my life, it seems those are the times that I find it hardest to navigate my grief. But I would always get a sign that my mother was near me. A red bird on my porch or in my backyard, her presence in a dream that seemed and felt real, or a car with a Georgia license plate.
I experienced my mother’s presence in a different way on August 23, 2020. I was hosting a book launch, and due to the pandemic I had planned the book launch in a park. There were lots of people in the park on that hot summer day. As I was moving around in our sectioned off portion of the park, I walked to my vehicle to get more books. A man walked up and asked what was going on; I told him about the book launch. I can’t tell you where he came from because it seemed that he just appeared. I never saw him in our section prior to him approaching me.
For a moment it felt like there was just the two of us standing there. He pulled out a small, black felt board with a few pairs of earrings on it. All with red somewhere on the design. My mother and I shared a love of red, but I didn’t think anything of it as I looked at the earrings. He asked me if I wanted to purchase a pair. I told him that we could barter: I would give him a book, and I would select a pair of earrings. He agreed and we continued to chat.
As we talked, he began telling me a little bit about himself. Then I shared a little bit about myself. His spirit was upbeat and light; it felt like we had known each other for years. He told me he had just moved into his own place. When I asked where he moved, his next statement literally took my breath away. He called out the address to my childhood home. When I told him that was my childhood address, I was in awe, but he did not seem surprised. We ended the conversation shortly after and I ran to tell my husband what had happened. When I looked around for the man, he was nowhere in sight. As I thought about the experience, Hebrews 13:2 rang true:
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels (NKJV).
We are all spiritual beings wrapped in flesh. Our five senses connect with what we can perceive, but our spirits connect with what we cannot see. I don’t have any doubt that the man was an angel. My mother wanted me to know that she was with me. There is no other way to explain how someone would walk up to me, with all the other people in the park that day, and just happen to call out the address of the home I grew up in. Oh no, I was the recipient of a direct hit from heaven that day.
After the experience, my heart was lifted, my spirit was encouraged, and my faith was bolstered. This only child learned that day that love is stronger than death.
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