Sometimes you live a story that makes you happy every time you tell it.
This is that kind of story.
I was on my way home to North Carolina, in the busy airport in Malaga, southern Spain, K-T-ing (pronounced kay-teeing. That’s what our family calls ‘killing time’), walking aimlessly through the crowds of people in the shopping area, just walking-moving-exercising before the long sit of the transatlantic flight.
I spied a little blond boy, three or four years old, running beside the moving sidewalk. I looked around the crowds, expecting to see a harried mother or father breaking out, chasing to corral him.
But I saw was no one.
So I followed him.
He was moving, clipping along, kept going. Clipclipclipclip. I sped up, with my carryon. Jogpulljogpull.
Was it ten minutes? More? I don’t know but I trailed him down the busy hall. Into an empty wide corridor. On and on. Then: dead-end at glass security doors.
The little guy stopped, looked through the glass, and stood there, not even breathing hard and he didn’t seem a bit afraid even though there was no one around but me.
“Hóla, niño.” I said, expecting he knew Spanish. “Dónde está tu mamá? Where is your momma?” He just looked at me.
I held out my hand, trying English. “Hey, buddy, shall we go find your mother?”
Without a word he put his little hand in mine and we walked back the way we’d come.
I chattered to him, figuring he didn’t understand. “Who are you, little guy? Where are you from? How will I get you back with your family?” He never said a word. And he didn’t let go of my hand.
As we got closer to the crowds, I saw an airport cleaning cart. I told the Spanish employee about the little runaway and she took him wherever they take lost children.
I watched them drive away, feeling sad. I would never know the answers to my questions. I would never know the end of the story. Oh, well.
There was still time before my flight, so I started K-T-ing again, in and out the gathered groups of people. Then, oh, my goodness! I saw my little guy with his mother entering a bathroom.
I noticed the dad nearby standing with their luggage. I introduced myself to see what language he spoke.
Ah! An Irishman, from Cork.
I spilled out my story. “I was walking that-a-way and I saw your son running and I followed him and he took my hand and I brought him back and a lady took him somewhere, and oh, I’m so glad he is back with you!”
“Oh, thank you, thank you! Our son ran off, he doesn’t speak, we were so afraid,” he said.
The mother returned, her hand tightly clutching her son, her eyes swollen red from crying. “Thank you so much. You are an angel,” she said.
“God loves you!” I said, as they gathered their things to catch their flight to Dublin.
I watched them go, feeling so happy.
It’s not every day you get to be someone’s angel.