I am a county sheriff in the State of Pennsylvania in the U.S.A.
There was a couple, Virginia and Ed Mullins, who lived down the road
from me. I have known these people all of my life. Virginia and Ed had
been married thirty-eight years before Ed's death ten years ago.
Virginia and Ed had a small boy named Andrew they called Andy. Andy died
in 1965 when he was three years old from a rapid onset of pneumonia.
When Andy died, the life and substance of life went out of Virginia and
Ed. Because the memories of Andy's passing were too painful to bear,
Virginia and Ed built and lived in a small house next door to the large
house where they lived when Andy was alive. They built the small house
because everywhere they looked in the big house, they saw little Andy.
On Dec 10th or thereabouts of last year, we had a blizzard here in
the foothills of the Allegany Mountains in Pennsylvania. Everything and
everyone was snowed in. Nothing was moving during the storm. At about
7:30 P.M., at the height of the storm, someone knocked on Virginia's
front door. Virginia has a security chain I put on the door and she
opened the door slightly to see who was knocking. Virginia had turned on
the porch light. She looked out on the porch and saw three people
shivering from the cold. There was a man, a woman, and a youngster. The
man explained the roads were blocked with snow and they were stranded.
Virginia took pity on the three people and told them to come inside. The
people looked terrible. They were shivering and gaunt looking. The
youngster had a coat with a hood on the coat and Virginia did not see
the youngster for a few minutes. The people were unusually quiet.
Virginia asked them where they were from and the man said they were just
passing through. As the strangers began to warm up inside Virginia's
house, the man was a little more forthcoming. It seems the man and the
woman had their work assignments terminated when they were out West.
After their work assignments ended, they then lost a place to live.
Their money had run out. They had not eaten in two days. The mom pulled
the hood back from around the little boy's head and the little boy could
have been twin of Virginia's little Andy. Virginia was standing up at
the time. She fell back into her recliner in near shock.
Virginia always kept a full freezer and a full pantry. It was
something she picked up from her mother who grew up on a farm during the
Great Depression. Once Virginia had sort of "come to" from the
shock of seeing the little boy, she ushered the strangers to the kitchen
to get them something to eat. Of course, Virginia could not keep her
eyes off the little boy. The man's name was Sean and the woman's name
was Betty. Virginia asked what the little boy's name was and the couple
said the boy's name was Andrew, but they called him "Andy."
Virginia nearly collapsed but hung on to the kitchen counter and
steadied herself. Virginia gathered herself together once again. To get
food into these people in the shortest amount of time, Virginia put some
peanut butter and jelly on the table, along with some milk. Since the
three had not really eaten in days, they dug in and ate like hungry
Christmas was the season to be avoided for Virginia and Ed. The only
decoration they put up was a lone Christmas candle in their front
window. No tree, no lights, no tinsel, no cards sent, no decorations of
any kind. Christmas was the most painful time of the year for Virginia
and Ed, not just because they lost Andy, but because Andy had died on
Dec. 24. The grief Virginia and Ed carried knew no bounds.
Now there was another Andy. The same age, who could have been the
first Andy's twin.
Sean, Betty, and Andy finished off most of a loaf of bread and a lot
of peanut butter and jelly. Virginia suggested they go back into the
living room. Sean and Betty turned out to be kind, caring, sweet, and
gentle people. They were innocent victims of the hard times now rolling
across the globe. When the four of them got back to the living room Sean
and Betty sat down on the couch, Virginia sat down in her recliner, and
inexplicably little Andy climbed up into Virginia's lap. As she had done
decades before, Virginia wrapped her arms around Andy. What was most
stunning of all is that Andy laid his head on Virginia's shoulder in
just the same way and in just the same place Virginia's Andy had done
decades before. Virginia kept telling herself it was all coincidence.
Virginia kept telling herself this new Andy was not her Andy, but still…
Things grew calm and quiet. It was 10:00 PM. Virginia told Sean and
Betty they could sleep in the spare bedroom just around the corner.
Virginia told them she would set up a place for Andy to sleep on the
couch. Sean and Betty arose from the couch and said good-night. Virginia
and little Andy remained in the recliner. Virginia did not know whether
to feel joy or despair. So much grief… So much pain… For Virginia,
Andy had come back. Andy slept in Virginia's arms throughout the night.
Throughout the night, Virginia prayed but she did not know what she
prayed. Throughout the night Virginia tried to choke back the tears, to
The next morning, Virginia asked Sean and Betty if they had any place
to go or any place to stay. Sean was grieved but said "no."
The truth was they were homeless.
After fixing breakfast, one of the biggest breakfast's anyone had
ever seen, Virginia asked Sean to shovel a path through the snow to the
back door of the big house next door. After the path had been shoveled,
Virginia took Sean, Betty, and Andy next door. Virginia opened the back
door of the big house and the three others followed. Virginia explained
no one lived in the house and invited the three new people in her life
to live in the house until things settled out in the economy. Sean and
Betty were profoundly grateful. Sean and Betty went about cleaning up
and fixing up the old home.
The next day, a warm spell moved through Pennsylvania and all the
snow from the blizzard was gone within three days. Sean went about
making needed repairs to the inside and outside of the big house.
All the plywood that had covered the windows and front door were
taken off. Unbelievably, within days, the house had been repainted and
remodeled by Sean and Betty. A renovation and remodeling job that might
take months by a crew of four was accomplished within days by Sean and
Betty. The house looked new, inside and out. The house was livable and
lived in again just as three people had lived in the house decades
Virginia had avoided Christmas since her Andy had passed away.
However, since Virginia had this new Andy in her life, Christmas had
come alive again for Virginia. In the attic of the old house, in a box
sealed up soon after the first Andy's passing, were all the presents
Virginia and Ed were to give the first Andy on Christmas. Virginia
carried the big box downstairs and over to her small house next door.
This year, those presents from so long ago would be opened. The toys
inside would be played with by this new Andy.
Cynthia (my wife) and I would stop to see Virginia about once every
two weeks. I drove by Virginia's house every day going into the office
and going home at night. I saw the unbelievable speed of the remodeling
of the old house. Before Christmas, both Virginia's house and the house
next door were fully decorated for Christmas. All Virginia could talk
about was this new Andy. Cynthia and I met Sean, Betty, and Andy about
two weeks before Christmas. They were the nicest people we had ever met.
Virginia and Andy were inseparable.
Every Christmas Eve, Cynthia and I would go see Virginia. Cynthia and
I never had children and we really bonded with Ed and Virginia. Cynthia
and I were not quite sure about going to see Virginia this year without
calling her first, something we have never done before. Cynthia and I
decided to forego the telephone call and just go see Virginia and the
new people in her life.
On Christmas Eve, we drove up the road to Virginia's house. I
immediately knew something was very, very, very wrong. What I saw was
beyond imagination. The old house was like it was before Sean and Betty
arrived. The windows were boarded up. Once again, the exterior had
peeling paint and was in need of extensive repair.
Cynthia and I got out of the car and walked up to Virginia's side
door. We never knocked. We just walked in because we were like
Virginia's family. The inside of Virginia's house was incredibly quiet.
The house was so quiet I could not put into words the absence of noise
in her home. The side door opens into the kitchen. We walked into the
kitchen and did not see Virginia. We walked toward the small dining room
which adjoins Virginia's living room. We got to the dining room and in
the living room we saw Virginia sitting in her recliner. However, there
was something else. Virginia's living room was filled with light. The
light in the room was not from a lamp. The light was from some other
source we could not identify. As we entered the living room, the light
lifted up and disappeared through the ceiling. I looked over at
Virginia. It was obvious she had passed on. In Virginia's right hand,
she held a Teddy bear. In her left hand she held a picture taken in 1965
of her little boy, Andy. The boy in the picture looked exactly like the
little Andy I had seen with Virginia two weeks before. The scene was not
a sad scene. Cynthia and I felt we were standing on holy ground. The
room was full of unbounded love, peace, and joy.
I made the necessary phone calls in regard to Virginia's death.
Cynthia and I went next door to the big house, still with its boarded up
windows and peeling paint. I walked to the back door. From all
appearances, it appeared no one had been in that house for forty years
or more. Cynthia and I walked inside the big house and there was a layer
of dust and dirt on every inch of the floors, woodwork, and contents. We
could see no one had lived in this house in decades.
One other thing…the truck. When I first saw the truck driven by
Sean and Betty I was curious. The truck was an F-150 Ford pickup
manufactured in 1965. The thing about the truck was, the truck was new.
I mean, brand new. I checked the odometer reading and the odometer
reading said .8 miles. The truck was not rebuilt. The truck was as new
as it was when it came off the assembly line in 1965. Another unusual
thing about the truck was when the snow was piled up on everything in
this part of Pennsylvania, the truck did not have any snow on it. Not
one flake of snow was on that truck. The truck didn't even have a drop
of rainwater on it. The truck was clean as a pin. The truck looked like
it had come off the assembly line and materialized right in front of
Virginia's house. Because the truck was so old, I lifted the hood, just
out of curiosity. The engine was brand, spanking, new just like it would
have been in 1965. The truck had no dirt, no grease, no grime, not even
a speck of dust on it inside or out.
After the hearse left and my deputies had gone, Cynthia and I locked
up Virginia's house. We walked out to the car and got in. We sat there
for a long time. We should have felt sad, but instead we felt joy.
Cynthia said, "Virginia received the greatest gift for
Christmas." Cynthia was right. Virginia received Christ's greatest
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing
some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (NIV)
story is fiction but contains an incidence or incidences of truth. The message first appeared in
December, 2008, in the Virtual Church
web site at http://www.findthepower.com