An Angel on the Street

angel on the streetAn angel prepares.

It is summer of 1989. I’m in western Maryland with my family and our three sons. Dave, who manages a farm for a German industrialist, is on a John Deere tour in Iowa. We are going to my sister’s house in the evening; their apartment is on a street in Oakland.

My family seems to think I am paranoid about our 18-month-old son Timmy. I’m constantly checking to see where he is, to make sure he has not wandered off somewhere. Constantly. I am not paranoid, because I know our little Timmy.

busy timmy

Timmy hears a sound, and he’s gone. A tractor, a truck, an engine – and he heads in that direction. More than once, I’ve radioed my hubby to let him know I can’t find Timmy. Once he hears his papa’s tractor across the field, he heads across the yard to the woods, for on the other side of that woods is the tractor. I spend a lot of time corralling him back to safety. Nobody understands that because they don’t know my Timmy.

Timmy’s father put a fence around a portion of our yard. To get into that fence, one must open the gate from the outside. You can imagine why. Timmy is not happy inside the fence, even though there are toys, and a sandbox, even if his older brother is with him. He wants to be footloose and fancy free.

When we go to the library, I put a leash on his wrist. It is a leash designed for children. If I don’t have him on a leash, he walks up and down the aisles, pulling all the books onto the floor faster than a tornado can flatten a building. His three-year-old brother sits quietly, looking at books while I try to find books to take home with us. But not Timmy. He hates the leash and lets everyone in the library know! His vocabulary does not include sit still.

This time, in my home community, I am constantly checking where Timmy is, for on one side of my mama’s house is the woods. On the three other sides are pastures with cattle and tractors. My sisters think he will never wander through the woods to the bottom of the steep hill where there is the Casselman River. But I know Timmy, and I know he will try if given enough time.

The street in oakland

It is evening, and we are at my sister’s house. Rhoda and Ralph recently moved to a second-story apartment in Oakland. I’ve never been there before, and the steps seem steep as I climb them with my newborn. My three little boys and I are all safely inside the apartment where folks are arranging food in the kitchen for our cafeteria-style supper. My 6-week old baby is hungry. I feed him, hand him to a sister, and go to check on Timmy. I am always checking on Timmy.

“Does anyone know where Timmy is?” I ask.

Timmy is nowhere to be found. I have not had time yet to panic, however, when Ralph walks into the room with Timmy.

“I don’t know how this happened,” Ralph says. “Somebody knocked on the door and he was holding this little guy. He asked if I know where he belongs. He said the little guy was walking up the street toward the railroad tracks. He’s been going door to door to find out who he belongs to.”

I grab my son and hug him tight. “Does this guy know you?” I ask Ralph. 

“Yeah, we know who he is. It’s a good thing I saw Timmy when you came in, because I wouldn’t have known that he belonged here when Tom came.”

Everyone is wondering how Timmy got on the street. Maybe the door didn’t close tightly when someone came in after we did. Perhaps he slipped out the unlatched door. How did he make it down that steep flight of stairs?  Everyone is surprised he made it down that steep flight, but I am not. I know my Timmy.

The Railroad tracks on the street

Why did he turn right instead of left when he got out the door on the street? We don’t know, but we do know that Timmy crossed the street and headed up toward the railroad tracks.

Tom is sitting outside on his porch when he sees the little guy heading up the street. He’s never seen the kid, but he picks him up and sets out to find where he belongs. That’s why, after visiting several other houses on the street, he knocks on Ralph’s door and finds where Timmy belongs.

What might have happened had our little Timmy remained on the street much longer? How many angels did God send to keep him safe?

An angel on the street

It is 2023. We are remembering that event thirty-four years ago. 

“I never found out who that guy was, and we never even told him thanks,” I tell Ralph.

“Yeah, it was Tom Dunbar,” Ralph responds. “But he’s gone now. He died of cancer a few years ago.”

Thanks to an honest, kind gentleman who stooped down, picked up our son, and went door to door to find where he belonged, our Timmy was safe. We are grateful to God, Who answered our many prayers on behalf of all our children for their safety and protection. Our Timmy is now 36, and we call him Tim. We are grateful to angels – those unseen as well as a tall, gentle man named Tom.

pinterest angel on the street

Photo credit: The railroad tracks in Oakland, Maryland; photographer Dave Cathell from Used with permission.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *