By Hardy Jackson
I have mentioned Cousin Benny from time to time, but considering the importance of what is to follow, let me tell you about him again.
Cousin Benny, my first cousin, is like a brother to me. He is my Aunt Anne’s (Daddy’s baby sister) “little peach” — 6-foot, 2-inches, 300 pounds of retired Mississippi Bureau of Investigation manhood.
Goateed and pony tailed, he looks like the Big Lebowski’s missing brother or a refugee from a Grateful Dead concert.
Now Benny is not inclined to make things up. Nor is he inclined to see the world through rose-tinted glasses. You can’t put anything over on Benny.
If I am ever going somewhere I ought not to go, I want to take Benny with me.
Get the picture?
So when Benny told me he had met an angel, I paid attention.
It happened a few years ago. December. He and his wife, Martha, had come to visit his mother, who was in a nursing facility close to me.
He came back from the visit all excited. “Guess what I saw at the nursing home today?” Benny exclaimed as he sat down in my kitchen. “An angel.”
Not my first guess, or even my second.
He continued. “We were sitting in the lobby, waiting to go in and see Mother. This guy comes in.”
Benny has spent his life observing people but this one was special.
“He was bigger than me (and you gotta be big to be bigger than Benny), clean shaven, and red-faced from either the cold or the alcohol, you could smell it on him.”
His size was emphasized by his too- small outfit – warm-up pants, t-shirt and zip-up-the-front hoodie which failed to cover his “very large protruding belly.”
Benny figured it was some homeless wino in from the cold.
After picking up some information bro- chures from the registration desk the guy walks over to Benny, reaches in his pocket, and pulls out a $20 bill wrapped around a business card.
He hands it to Benny.
Benny politely refuses to take it.
The man insists.
So Benny takes it.
Then the man sat down on the couch with Benny and began to ramble on about nursing homes in general and about how he planned to get cigarettes for the smokers in rehab there. After a few minutes of that, he got up, reached in his pocket, and pulled out a wad of bills – most of them twenties – which he handed to Martha with instruc- tions to give them to needy residents.
He could be this generous, the man explained, because he was “a zillionaire” and an angel on top of that.
Yessir, an angel.
Not an archangel, he wanted that made clear, something along the lines of a “special forces angel who had not earned his wings yet.”
And with that, he left.
Neither Benny nor Martha saw where he came from, or where he went.
Benny and Martha counted the money — $300, all in twenties — which they turned over to the business office to be used to help anyone in the facility who needed it.
The information on the business card he gave Benny was sketchy – “One Man’s Ministry” followed by a name and city and a reference to “Blue Letter Bible.” I suppose we could do an internet search and find out more about him.
But I don’t want to.
I’d rather stick with Benny’s explanation. He was an angel.
Neither Benny, nor Martha, nor Hardy for that matter, have ever seen one of the Heavenly Hosts, but as Benny noted, “We have been told that they walk among us.”
And I thought, “Yes, maybe they do.”