A few years ago, my son Seth (about 8 or 9 at the time) who plays the cello played his first Suzuki book recital which included Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Through the course of taking lessons, he had two teachers Elizabeth Willey and Carey Cheney…both wonderful ladies with beautiful styles of their own. They both accompanied my son when he played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as his final piece. As I watched them weave their own harmony while my son played the “plain ol’ melody” in the middle, the piece took on a beautiful life of its on. I thought then, “This must be what angels do: they add beauty to the work you do, with you, as they teach you by your side.” The same thing happened when my oldest son, Joseph, played a more complex and beautiful duet with his teacher at his violin recital. These musical angels—skilled, polished, and experienced—have not only taught my sons with their special musical gifts, they also accompanied them in their “tests”…their recitals…and magnified their performance to more than what my sons could do on their own.
Each one of us has those angels…seen and unseen, noticed and not…that help us in our journey in life. I now see that I’ve been blessed with Angels who have taught me, accompanied me, and complemented my gifts (and lack thereof): my Mother, my Sisters, and my Wife.
Her name is Aurora, and she brought me into this earth in the Philippines. And just like any son, I longed for my mother. She was a physician with her own practice during my younger years and was very knowledgeable. I admired her for being so smart, and I wanted to be smart too. I remember climbing our fruit trees, gathering all the fruit I could, and offering them to her as a gift. I remember my sister and I singing for her during family nights. I don’t know how many drawings I’ve done and given them to her, but they were plenty. And then she and my father would take us to America to start our new life. My studies would always be first, and I strove to excel in them…which I did. Here is where I gained my love of learning. As the years went on, she encouraged me to take some kind of music lessons (she loved the piano), and I took up violin (the first in our family), then percussion in band, and then singing in choirs. Always, I would be encouraged to play for her and for others, and she would listen, pleased with a concert of her own. During these years, she would teach me how to memorize my talks, teach me how to budget, tell me stories of her life and of my grandparents, and teach me of God and her relationship with Him. I would learn the practical gifts of how to fold clothes, cook meals, clean the house, change diapers, and do laundry. Each step, each skill, each performance – they were building blocks in my Mother’s hands. She was building me to be able to navigate life on my own and to build and add beauty wherever I was.
Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” God needed me for a work to do here on this earth, and so he sent me to my angel mother to love me, get me started, and train me up…in His direction. She gave me her gifts, her strengths and even weaknesses, so that I may learn how to walk in His path. She was with me in my first steps, and now it’s my turn to continue. Thank you, Mom…
I have an older sister, Athena, and two younger ones, Janelle and Charlene. Somehow, God knew I’d need some help on the “people, personality, and relationship” side of things…and I couldn’t do it on my own. So, He sent me three beautiful angels to be with me as I grew up.
Athena is fun, has lots of close friends, bold, independent, creative with crafts, musically gifted in piano and song, and in tune with God. I always admired her for how she could draw people to her, how she made time for them, how fun she was to be with. She would never miss a chance to invite me to come over and play for her or talk with her. I remember those times when she’d come home from college and just spend our nights talking and sharing music. I remember how we’d gather as siblings, and she’d encourage me to play the guitar while we’d all sing and harmonize with each other. Whenever I had a problem or decision to make, she’d always ask me, “So, what are you going to do about it?” I hated that question…but it taught me to be responsible for my actions. I don’t think I could ever match the friendliness and activity that Athena has, but she has definitely helped me come out of my shell.
Janelle is seven years younger than me, but she is miles beyond when it comes to optimism and happiness. She is also a beautiful singer, has lots of friends, and spiritually sensitive to God. She always smiles…and I think her smile is now imprinted on her face permanently. She loves, purely. She sings beautifully and plays the piano. She even plays the guitar. I was the older brother who solved her problems, and she’d always come to me for advice. She trusted me, and I didn’t want to break that trust. She taught me to be trustworthy, to come out of my shell and serve…because she needed it. She is always smiling and happy, and her cheerful personality adds much needed sunshine to my day.
Charlene Joy (CJ) is the youngest of my siblings (and the cutest one, she’ll quip!). I loved little CJ growing up. I don’t know if it was just because she was so cute or something else, but I felt like she was what I needed at the time. I fed her, took care of her, dressed her, changed her diaper, taught her, played with her…skills that I use now as a dad. Through the years, she became a more confident young lady, playing the violin and guitar, and has a pretty singing voice. She loves to make things, too, from sewing clothes for her dolls or pet dog (when she was little) to making those “scrapbookish” any-occasion cards for people. I was the open ear when she needed someone to listen to her, and I was also her fount-of-knowledge of last resort…you know, the one you go to when the others don’t seem to work. It’s always interesting to listen about her adventures (and mis-adventures). I always admired her independence, free-spiritedness, as well as her willingness to tackle life as well as her tenderness and loving nature…all things that I’ve always needed to cultivate in myself.
My sisters were my companion angels growing up. The first two are mothers now, with their influence now planted into their own families. They brought beauty, love, fun, and life into my growing years…and their maturity still influences me. My dull sides have become more polished and bright because of my beautiful angel sisters.
Of all the angels God sent my way, one agreed to stay with me for the rest of the way. It took me a while to see her, even though she was right in front of me many times. God knew I’d need a woman who trusted Him and who radiated that trust to others…because He knows that I struggle with opening up. He knew I hungered for love, so He sent an angel who overflows with love and service, one who loves deeply, completely, openly, and honestly. He sent me one who loves music and poetry because I’d need someone to share my gifts with. He needed me to be a good father, so he sent me an angel who loves children, who honors family relations, and builds and inspires our children. He knows I’m attracted to beauty, so he sent me an angel of beauty, of virtue,…one of many talents, of many graces, of many gifts. He knows I forget, so he sent one who always remembers. He wants me to be generous, so He sent one who’s a natural “giver of good gifts”.
For each of my strengths and weaknesses, he sent me the one who’d magnify my strengths and fill in where I had gaps, my holes, where I severely lacked. God sent me an angel whom I would need…and who would need me too. She is my tangible reminder of God’s love, a reminder of His mercy to me, a visible reminder of who Christ is.
Of all the angels of my life, I’m truly grateful for my beloved Wife. She is the angel of my heart, the angel of my children, the angel of my home.