Have you ever met an angel? I believe I know one.
When they told me that the biopsy of a suspected cancer in my breast was, in fact, the complete lumpectomy, like most people who feel they have survived cancer I fell into a period of great enthusiastic love for the world and everyone in it. At that time there was an upset in New York City about abandoned babies who had been born with Aids. (About 1987.) These babies had been left in corners and in doorways around town. They were picked up by the police and firemen and helpful people and brought to government offices – and, for lack of equipment, they were just left on desk tops.
At that time there was no program, no housing, no nursery for them in New York or any other big city. The problems that city employees had setting up nurseries in offices were enormous and sudden and on front pages of every paper.
I was looking to help anybody and everybody in the gratefulness of my good health at the time and I wanted to help those Aids babies. It was suggested to me to go to the Van Etten Center at Jacoby Hospital. I was told that the center was the first in the city that dealt with children with Aids. It no longer exists but at the time it was a rare and wonderful place.
I was impressed with everyone I met there. And I was overwhelmed by Marie Williams. She was a blooming woman, full of health and strength and energy. She was caring for a small number of Aids babies then. I asked her what she needed and she told me she needed a house, if she had a house she could care for many more. We worked out a plan so that she got her house. She then took on many more children who were born with Aids or born as drug babies and she took them home and cared for them. In some cases she wore those children next to her skin, like a backpack, for a long time and some of them actually changed from positive to negative and developed in good health. Over the years she has also taken under her wing or even adopted children who not only had Aids but also Cerebral Palsy as well as children who are mentally damaged.
One, (E), has Cerebral Palsy. He is a sweet, good looking big boy who is retarded, non verbal, wears pampers, is in a wheelchair, is 16 now, goes to school for children with special needs. He is not able to feed himself so Marie purees his food and feeds him — because of his disease she lifts him into and out of his bed. Through Medicaid she is able to have a person come in 5 times a week from 3 to 8 to help care for (E). This allows her to do what she needs to do for all the other children in her care in her home.
Marie writes to me regularly about the children. They were very small when we met. Now, one (J) is 20, her health is just okay. She is in and out of the hospital. One (S) is 20, has finished school and is courageously looking for a job. One (R) is 17, in school, having a hard time. One (G) is 17 and doing very well in school and looking into college. Marie is joyously proud of her – it has been a long road. Her health is very good now. As Marie says, “Thank God.”
Marie has lost children who had Aids but her achievements are widely appreciated. Her entire life is dedicated, 24 hours a day, to children she is given who start life with no hope. She straps them onto her body and she loves them back into life and almost all of them live much better, much longer lives.
Most of us are warm, generous people who help wherever we can. But there are the other ones, the angels walking on earth, who are taking care in ways that we don’t. They give me certainty. They certainly assure me that there really are angels.