The doctor took Mom’s vital signs and pronounced her well enough to go back to the nursing home.
She had fallen a few days earlier down in Texas and had some breathing problems, so she was rushed to a hospital in nearby Llano.
A few minutes later, the young doctor returned to her room.
This time, Mom was AWOL.
She’d been kidnapped by an angel.
Not your typical Hollywood angel with the long blond hair and blue eyes and expansive wing span.
No, this was a real Hollywood angel. One with a no-nonsense wing span and a face and voice similar to Whoopie Goldberg’s.
“Wake up, girl,” Angel Whoopie said, tugging on the bed sheets.
“Who are you?” Mom said.
“I’m the angel that's here to bust you out of this place.These folks gone nuts down here, shootin’ little children in kindergarten, shootin’ bigger kids in the back for ‘joggin”.
“I don’t know,” Mom said. “People will be worried about me.”
“Girl, you’ve been giving to other people ever since your kids were toddlers. No offense, but that crate of a body you’ve been pushing around, is ready for the junk pile."
“Well, I guess it’s a little worn...”
“Woman, you’re thin white hair isn’t even working. You can barely see. Your back don’t work. Your legs don’t work. Your head’s barely working.
“All your husbands are up there waiting for you, and your daughter Leta, you know, is just learning her way around up there.
“Your sister Leta Mae’s there too. Not to mention your mom and dad and all your relatives, except your son and your sister Frances.
“They’ll be along in a jiffy.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t want to shorten their lives,” Mom said.
“You’re still not getting it, girl. Time and space are one and the same where we’re going. Your earthly family could stay here another 60 years, and it’d still be just a jiffy before we get ‘em.
“Come with me, Verba.”
“But I can barely move. I fell and...”
By that time, Angel Whoopie had extracted Mom’s 5-foot-4 inch soul out of her 4-foot-11 inch earth body.
“Careful, Angel Whoopie, you’ll break every bone in my body.”
“Hold tight,” the angel said. "We are gonna go right through the wall now.”
Mom screamed, of course, but no one heard. Her body hadn’t moved an inch, but her soul was stuck halfway in the hospital room and halfway out of the hospital.
“Notice any changes, girl?” the angel asked.
“My head feels much better. The reception has cleared up. Wow. My mind’s back. All of it.
“But my lower back aches as much as ever, Angel Whoopie.”
The angel pulled Mom’s soul the rest of the way through the hospital, and the back pain and leg pain disappeared. Then the two of them took a seat on a tree branch, like a couple of seven-year-olds.
Mom noticed she couldn’t see herself.
Angel Whoopie pulled a hand mirror out of her left wing pocket and held it in front of Mom’s face.
What Mom saw was a familiar face, one she recognized as herself when she was 20 years old. Her thin white hair had been replaced by the thick brunette color of her youth.
Her skin was smooth and taut, simply beautiful. Her eyes were sharp and penetrating.
“I don’t see the rest of me,” Mom said.
Whoopie flipped a switch, and the hand mirror unfolded into a full-length mirror.
Mom looked. Then she looked again.
“I look pretty good, don’t I?” she said, pushing her hair up on one side.
Angel Whoopie laughed. “You sure do, girl. You look like what they used to call a real dame."
"How far is it," came the obvious question from Mom.
“About 46 billion light years,” the angel estimated.
“That’s too far,” Mom whined. Angel Whoopie put two fingers in her mouth and made this shrill-sounding whistle.
Mom flinched but then noticed a small object coming closer out of the morning sky.
Moments later, except for its wings, she recognized it. Except for the wings, it was the same horse that came to her in a dream about her childhood a few weeks ago. A horse named Paint.
Within seconds, Paint was smelling mom and confirming she was the one who used to ride him in the brisk morning air.
Mom was smelling Paint’s nose. It was obvious the two admired one another.
Angel Whoopie lowered her right wing, scooped it undeneath Mom’s soul and flipped her high in the air.
She came down all proper like on Paint’s back.
Angel Whoopie then hopped on, too.
“We’re going to go 46 billion light years on a horse?” Mom asked.
“We’ll be there in a jiffy,” the angel said. With that they were off. The kindest, most beautiful and courageous woman I’ve ever known was off into the sunset.
God knows, it was 5 o’clock somewhere.
All I could say was, “Way to go, Mom. Way to go."