“Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
It was September 12th, 2022, Dixie Mall, Port Credit, Canada.
After a 5-year gap, my husband, Yip, and I were able to visit Canada again. Enjoying the “foreign market,” we were roaming a large shopping mall with our daughter, Sheva, who had connived with another sister to buy us shoes. I tried to convince Sheva I didn’t need shoes. “Spend your money on Dad. He can’t get his size at home.” And that was true. In India, where we live, size 13 is nearly impossible to find.
Tired, I waited inside the door of a shoe store while Sheva and Yip shopped. Standing behind my wheelchair, I gripped the handles firmly in order to stabilize myself. A man suddenly appeared before me. Noting the wrinkles on his face, I guessed him to be about my age (68). I also noted the vibrance and sparkle in his eyes. Dressed in sport pants and a T-shirt, his eyes locked in on mine, ignoring my surprised expression. His noticeably fit body matched the animated way he bounced as he spoke to me.
“Do you always use that?” He meant the wheelchair.
“Then you need Nike-Zoom X shoes.” He ignored the confusion on my face and carried on.
“The Nike Zoom-X are the most aerodynamic running shoes, scientifically engineered for athletes.”
It was a verbal onslaught—a lot of information coming fast right in my face, and I’m embarrassed to say my mouth dropped open. I could barely mumble, “I don’t know what you’re’ talking about.”
That didn’t stop him or even slow him down.
“Nike Zoom uses every muscle for every step. Nike-Zoom has a legacy and athletes use it for its renowned quality. It’s the most popular racing shoe world-wide, though you’ll find this particular make in almost all the top brands, not just Nike. The responsive cushioning in its soul will kick-start your day, and after 24 hours of wearing the shoes, the only thing you’ll want to do is mambo.”
“The sturdy support breaks records, whether they’re world records or personal records—you really need to get this shoe.”
And there he ended with a smile, and popped out of existence—or at least from my view. You see, he could pop in and pop out, because my neck doesn’t turn. It is “fixed” with 13 screws and rods, which is why I never saw him coming or see him leave—but Sheva did.
“Mom,” she said, “Who was that man?”
Still bewildered, I could only shrug. I retold his pep talk, described how confident he was, and how he encouraged me to buy the Nike-Zoom shoe. It all seemed bizarre and unlikely to Sheva, that someone I didn’t know would approach me and question my need for a wheelchair, and then tell me what I need to buy.
We kept going and tried another shoe store, but no luck for size 13. We continued our stroll, and further down the corridor I saw a sign: NIKE SHOES—CLEARANCE SALE. I couldn’t help myself and aimed my wheelchair toward its doors. “Let’s go check it out. I want to see the shoe that man was going-on about.”
I rolled down the centre aisle and was soon talking to a salesman who directed us to the Nike-zoom shelves.
“Size?” He asked, and soon returned with glowing neon-orange shoes. I cringed inwardly, doubting whether I could be seen in such a colour. “Any other colour choice?”
“There’s only one other, I’ll get it.”
He returned with a beautiful aqua-blue-green shoe. Bending over I put them on and took a few steps.
“You can walk!” cried Yip and Sheva at the same time.
It was true, and absolutely amazing. The way the shoe pushed me off and kept me walking at a good speed; how it steadied and balanced me. Unbelievable! It was so unbelievable that I had to do it again. I removed the Nike’s and put on my own shoes. They had the opposite affect; I was unsteady and unbalanced. I laced the Nike’s up again and walked with such ease. I couldn’t stop saying “Wow!” and, “Who was that guy?”
There were no second thoughts—I was going to let my daughters buy me these shoes—I needed them! What a mind change! Sheva was very excited. The clearance sale made them significantly cheaper, but they were still expensive. Sheva was over-joyed and happily bought them. I really wanted to find that man and tell him I’d bought Nike Zoom shoes. Sheva helped to keep an eye out for him.
We shopped until we dropped, and then took a coffee break. Eventually Sheva and Yip went off again while I remained seated in my wheelchair. Then, directly across from me, coming out of a mobile phone shop, was the man. But it couldn’t be—all his clothes were different. He now wore long baggy pants, a collared shirt and a work jacket. Why did this man look exactly like the Nike-Zoom guy? I watched him walk back and forth around the area. I was staring at him, hoping he would look my way and give me a gesture of recognition. Then it happened. He looked directly at me, starring, while he took a half-dozen steps towards me. Then he stopped. He continued gazing at me for what seemed like minutes, though it must have been seconds. Then he turned and walked out of the mall.
I was confused. Did he recognize me? Was it him? Trying to figure it out was getting very weird and exhausting. It was impossible, so I gave up and another thought took hold—how do guardian angels work? Perhaps they wear specific clothes needed for their specific assignments. Nike needs sporty fellows, but the shop where I spotted him a second time was a mobile phone shop … it could be anyone. It gives scope to the imagination. Angels are God’s servants. What a gift God gave me. Yes, the shoes cost money, but it was that invisible gift-card from God saying, “Don’t worry, spend the money, it’s on me. Get up and walk.”