Did you know that angels don’t always have wings? I can tell you a story that proves it.

While my mother was alive, my father was our favorite entertainment. He made up words and sang silly songs. He laughed himself to tears with his own bad jokes. But when my mother died, his laughter seemed to die with her.

A few months after her death he had heart surgery. We were very worried about him—he was 78 and depressed. Can you imagine our surprise when, only a few days after surgery, he was smiling and laughing more than he had since my mother’s memorial service?

It wasn’t until a few weeks after he was released from the hospital that we found out that he’d had been doing more than recovering during his hospital stay.

We found out, in fact, that while he was in the hospital, he had been “courting” his very attractive (20 years younger!) nurse, Gail. He told us that, at first, she had refused several of his invitations. Poor Gail, we could have told her that was futile. My dad (AKA Prince Charming) was, when he wanted something, irresistible.

Less than six months later, she accepted his proposal and they were married. With Gail by his side, Dad smiled and laughed and his blue eyes danced with joy and mischief.

Gail challenged him with her quick wit and sharp mind. She learned to play golf, although tennis was her game.  She adopted his friends, and embraced his chaotic, slightly crazy family.

And, in his nineties, when his balance began to fail, she walked next to him and held him up. She cut out newspaper articles for him to read and found television shows for them to watch. She invited his friends and family for dinner.

She never stopped encouraging him. She never stopped loving him, and, when he was with her, he was always smiling.

Maybe some angels have wings, but I can assure you that at least one of them has red hair and the most generous spirit I’ve ever known.

Dad and Gail