Entertaining an Angel Unaware
                                                                                                By Neil Clement

   A brief flicker of light, so fleeting that clocks couldn't measure it, zoomed by a tiny star (yet unnamed) one night this past April. The exact time is unknown.
We do know it happened sometime between bedtime the night of the 3rd and 11:00 am of the 4th.
   
   Did you happen to see it by chance? I didn't see it, but I'm sure it happened.

   There just had to be a light of some kind! Certainly God would give some visible sign that He was receiving His precious gift back into His sheltering arms
after more than 7,000 plus days down here on planet earth.

   Oh, oh, there I go again, thinking in worldly terms ... what makes sense to me, an average mortal. .. how things should happen to suit Me.

   When God sends for one of His angels to return, I shouldn't have to see a sign of some kind. If I truly believe, I'll just know it intuitively.

   My how I miss the whole point of things in my own little insular world. Oh me of little faith!

   Do yourself, and me, a favor please. Take a moment and look up Hebrews 13, verse 2. If you read it thoughtfully, before you finish reading this little true
story about an angel, you'll be sure to follow the thread of love woven through our tiny tale.

   Twenty years ago, a tiny "stranger" came into our family when we were asked, as foster parents, to take in a baby who had been abused and neglected.
She miraculously survived the abuse and the hospital was ready to discharge her. The little tyke was nine months old and weighed only ONE pound over her
birth weight.

   Our little temporary (we thought) visitor resembled one of those novelty store plucked chickens - skinny arms and legs - and she lay still and quiet.

   Why our puny wee stranger couldn't even suck a nipple. Judy ingeniously fed her with an eyedropper at first to the amazement of our children.

   As years whizzed by, Betsy put on weight and began to sit up a little, chew a little and smile a lot. Describing Betsy is next to impossible, but here goes: her
hair was long and deep, deep brown in color; but not just plain brown, it was "sable" my wife said.

   Her brother, Glenn, told me "She truly had a button nose that made you smile without your even knowing it." He loved to massage her forehead, which
protruded prominently. Her other brother, Neil Brian, recalls her long fingers that had a suppleness that is rare.

   The outstanding uniqueness about Betsy was her skin. Soft doesn't even begin to describe it or even do it justice. Judy says, "It was like fine satin". When I
inquired of my daughter, Jill, immediately she said, "Her skin was so thin, you could almost see through it." My instant reaction was, "That's right! It was almost
as if you could see beneath her skin."

   As for me, when I bathed Betsy to give Jude a hand, as soon as I dried her arms and back, the thought would pop into my head that her skin was lustrous.
That it had a sheen, which made it radiant. It may sound crazy but that's how it struck me. When she placed her hand, invariably her left, against my cheek
and slowly moved it up and down, its tenderness was ... sorry, just picturing what I was writing flooded my body with a warm, tranquil, gentle rush of pure
serenity and my eyes with soothing, moistness that can't be transferred into written form of any kind!

   The striking feature in Betsy's pictures is her right eyelid that was always closed. Doctor's couldn't operate because Betsy's heart valve was faulty and
anesthesia might have caused heart failure.

   Betsy had marvelous powers of influence over many people who came in contact with her. One example was a foster son we had years ago. His name was
Tom and he adored her. The strange thing was that Tom had so much anger built up in his skinny, little body because his mom could not or would not take
care of him. He has spent his young life from age four until now at eighteen, either in foster care or in institutions. He took his anger out on his caregivers, of
course. He carved his initials in tables, broke screen doors, swung, kicked, and tried to bite, etc but NEVER with Betsy. Instead, he would say, "Betsy, roll over
on Uncle Tom's chest and we'll play." He was so gentle with her, even when he was angry with us. Bets was safe.

   The girls in the Pediatric Ward of Salem Hospital were also mesmerized by Betsy. During her dozens of visits and stays at the hospital for pneumonia,
usually, they developed such a love for her and such knowledge of her problems and special needs. Judy could call them at three in the morning, worried and
concerned, and they would tell her all the details and tell her exactly what they were doing. Judy could relax and drift off to sleep after she called. If you drive
past our cottage on South DuPont Road, you'll see a tree in the north part of the yard that was given to us by the girls in Pedi when Betsy left us this past April.

   Bob Hatfield was the caseworker for the Division of Youth and Family Services in Salem, who placed Betsy with us. We met ten or twelve years later and he
said, "I've always wondered whatever happened to that little abused girl I placed in your home. That poor, little kid!" I took her down off of my shoulder and
said, "Do you mean Betsy?" He turned around for a few moments, composed himself, and said, "I can't believe she made it." We felt the same way. The odds
were against her, that's for sure.

   As Christmas nears, we draw close to the Babe in Bethlehem. The season reminds us of God's unconditional love for us. Betsy loved all of us,
unconditionally. She never cried, manipulated, demanded anything. She never asked for anything or pouted. Betsy loved us for who we are and for what we
are. Let's all be like Betsy, today and tomorrow and on and on.

   Perhaps, if we listen carefully, maybe we'll hear a happy sound from the sky on Christmas morning that began on a pink cloud in heaven, zipped past the
man in the moon, slid down a rainbow and hopped onto the tail of a light ray from one of the distant stars so we could hear the joyous sounds of Betsy
Clement and her pal, Brenda Howard, roller skating in heaven!



"Hometown News"
December 1992